11/12/2008, Kampala - The President of the Republic of Uganda welcomed African ministers and high-level representatives from African and OECD countries to the 2008 NEPAD-OECD investment meetings. Discussions focused on: strengthening investment policy reform in Africa through peer learning and active private sector engagement; making optimal use of investment policy tools; and enhancing private investment in transport infrastructure.
Left to right: Hon. Fred Jachan Omach Mandir, Minister for Finance (General Duties), Uganda; Rt Hon. Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Ms. Rebecca Kadaga; His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda; Hon. Prof. Semakula Kiwanuka, Minister for Finance (Investment), Uganda; Mr. Mario Amano, Deputy Secretary-General, OECD; Amb. Olukorede Willoughby, Acting Chief Executive, NEPAD Secretariat; Mr Charles Awitor, Head, Regional Integration Division, AU Commission; Ms Victoria Forster-Jones, Programme Officer, AU Commission; Ms Maggie Kigozi, Executive Director, Uganda Investment Authority
President Yoweri Museveni, in highlighting the implications of the global financial crisis, alerted participants to the fact that “prescriptions of yesterday will not be relevant today”. This will entail a balanced assessment of needed reforms. OECD Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Mario Amano, noted that it was particularly fitting that the conference take place in Uganda, which is a reform-oriented member of the East African Community that has recently recorded pro-business reforms and a steady growth of private investment.
The Ministerial Forum on investment policy reform in Africa noted that, while the global financial crisis has already affected revenue flows to the continent, Africa’s progress in reforming the investment agenda is likely to mitigate its impact. NEPAD CEO, Ambassador Olukorede Willoughby added that “although these are difficult times, they are also interesting times: for Africa, the glass is clearly half-full and not half-empty”.
More, however, needs to be done. Participants concluded that consolidating investment policy reform was key to avoiding a backward slide and that African governments could further reduce the cost of doing business. Good practices were highlighted, including, amongst others, the launch of the Zambian Development Agency, and Kenya’s streamlining of business licenses where only those which promote environmental or health policies are retained.
When considering strengthening investment policy reform through peer learning, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) was unanimously considered to be a critical step forward in achieving good governance in Africa. The APRM Secretariat has indicated that it is revising the Questionnaire for Country Self-Assessment, taking into account business climate related issues. Development partners were encouraged to support the investment component of the APRM’s implementation.
The session on making optimal use of investment policy tools highlighted that Africa must recognise the need for assessing its investment framework so as to improve its business climate and that this can be achieved through using instruments such as the Policy Framework for Investment.
The discussion on private investment in regional road infrastructure strongly emphasised the link between adequate transport infrastructure, economic growth and poverty alleviation. Uganda’s Minister for Finance (Investments), Hon. Semakula Kiwanuka, underlined that Africa’s regional integration will simply remain “beautiful on paper” if infrastructure is not fixed, particularly in the transport and energy sectors. Efforts being made by East Africa in deepening regional integration were applauded in this context, and African governments were called upon to harmonise their infrastructure policies. Participants agreed on the importance of improving upstream project preparation and deepening domestic financial markets to ensure successful public private partnerships in infrastructure.
The discussion on furthering private investment in road infrastructure acknowledged the enormous gap between Africa’s needs and existing infrastructure in the transport sector and that increasing private investment in road infrastructure is an urgent priority. Governments were encouraged to improve regulatory frameworks and contracting arrangements and to prioritise road maintenance. Opportunities for attracting new investors such as Sovereign Wealth Funds were also highlighted.
For further information, journalists should contact Mr Karim Dahou, NEPAD-OECD Africa Investment Initiative, OECD Investment Division (firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel: +33 (0)1 45 24 19 38).
Documentation and presentations from the meeting are available on the conference webpage .
More information about investment-related work in Africa is available at www.oecd.org/daf/investment/africa