Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean

The ACP Quality Infrastructure Programme (ACP QIP) supports ACP policy makers, institutions and private sector actors to: (i) enhance the regional Quality and Regulatory infrastructure governance; (ii) strengthen the availability of the value chain-specific QI services; (iii) promote quality culture and practices.

Watch the video where Mr Deryck Omar, CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality, talks about his vision for Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean, and how UNIDO’s Meso-level activities within ACP Business-Friendly Programme fit into that vision.

ARSO’s experts trained by ACP QI programme

The UNIDO ACP QI Programme Africa organized a 3-day training session for the National Enquiry Point Experts of the ARSO Documentation and Information Systems Network (ARSO-DISNET) on Data Entry into the Africa Trade Web Portal (ATWP).  This training was held in Kigali, Rwanda and implemented with the support of African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) as main organizer of the DISNET group and the Rwanda Standards Board. Representatives from 24 ARSO DISNET Member States participated in the training.

Rapid Response Window: Mauritius and Nigeria

Work is ongoing with EDB Mauritius and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (in collaboration with UNIDO ITPO Nigeria) regarding investment opportunity profiling under the Rapid Response Window of the ACP Business-friendly Programme. The Investment Opportunity Profiling activity implies the identification of potential investment projects from companies within the country, their structuring, improvement, and management in the DIPS dashboard, and subsequent promotion via the invest-in-ACP Platform.

Concluded IMSS Campaign in Ethiopia and Zambia

The Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) and the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), supported by UNIDO under the ACP Business-friendly programme, have completed the Investment Monitoring and Support Services Survey Campaign aiming to enhance the respective countries’ business environment by improving and tailoring aftercare support services offered to existing companies. The data collection will help improve the participating Investment Promotion Agencies’ Aftercare support services, bring the institutions closer to companies and investors, and thus improve the business environment in Ethiopia and Zambia. Watch this video to hear more from Ethiopian companies that completed the survey.

Business Diplomacy: Leverage the diplomatic network of ACP countries to promote sustainable investments

Over 30 diplomats from French-speaking ACP countries actively participated in the French edition of the 3-day Business Diplomacy Training organized by UNIDO and the Secretariat of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). Acknowledging the potential of business diplomacy for the economic development of countries from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP), the Training was designed with the goal to further enhance the business diplomacy functions of ACP Embassies and their technical personnel.

The 79 member states of the OACPS are facing significant challenges due to the triple crisis of food security, energy, and financial market performance, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Given investments are essential to overcome these, almost every ACP country has at least one dedicated national-level investment promotion agency (IPA) mandated to attract and facilitate inward investments. However, recent empirical evidence collected by UNIDO and the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) from IPAs in the ACP region highlighted that most of the agencies struggle with challenges in targeting efforts, confronted with costly global investment attraction activities and a marginal overseas presence under their direct control.

Hence, the diplomatic network of ACP countries, as a permanent presence in strategic market locations abroad, can significantly enhance the impact of IPAs’ efforts in attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment (FDI) aligned with the SDGs, amplify an IPA’s outreach in foreign markets, and generate leads in a cost-efficient and effective way.

The objective of the Business Diplomacy Training was to equip the technical staff of ACP Embassies with the knowledge and tools to fully harness the potential of business diplomacy in fostering sustainable investments and economic growth. In particular, it aimed to achieve an understanding of the key drivers and pitfalls of business diplomacy, investor targeting and attraction, effective communication and image building strategies, the potential of institutional (between diplomats and national IPAs), diaspora and regional cooperation in FDI promotion, as well as new topics such as impact investing and supply chain strategies.

After opening remarks given by Mr. Anthony Brand, MSME Expert, Department of Sustainable Economic Transformation and Trade of the OACPS, H.E. Mr. Thérence Ntahiraja, Ambassador of Burundi, Ms Cécile Billaux, Head of Unit E2 (Trade, Investment Climate, Entrepreneurship and Value Chains), DG INTPA, European Commission, and Mr Christophe Yvetot, UNIDO Representative, Liaison Office to the European Union, diplomats from 24 ACP countries actively participated in the training conducted by Mr. Aleksandar Medjedovic, UNIDO Senior Business Diplomacy Expert. The three days were punctuated by group exercises, concrete case studies presented by an esteemed lineup of external speakers and networking opportunities.

This French edition of the ACP Business Diplomacy Training is the second one of its kind, after a first training held in English from 22-24 January 2024. The ACP Business Diplomacy Trainings are part of the broader “ACP Business-friendly: Supporting value chains through inclusive policies, investment promotion and alliances” Programme, funded by the European Union and the OACPS. Through this project, UNIDO is providing extensive capacity building and technical advisory support in matters related to investment facilitation and promotion to investment promotion agencies and institutions in countries in the ACP region, underpinned by the implementation of the UNIDO investment promotion toolkit, including digital tools such as the Invest-in-ACP Platform.

Read the issue N° 6 of the ACP Business-Friendly newsletter

ACP Quality Infrastructure presented at the General Assembly of ARSO

Mr. Bernard Bau, Programme Manager, and Mr. Aka Jean Joseph Kouassi, Chief Technical Adviser of the ACP Quality Infrastructure Programme were designated to represent the DG of UNIDO at the General Assembly of ARSO (African Organisation for Standardisation), planned from 5-7 July 2023 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Ms. Rola Bou Khozam, Quality Infrastructure Lead Expert for the Africa Component, who was on mission at ARSO HQ in Nairobi, Kenya, was also part of the UNIDO delegation.

During the GA, UNIDO’s representative presented the inter-regional Programme and highlighted the main activities planned for the African region.

In the margin of the GA, the UNIDO delegation had a working session with ARSO Secretary General, Mr. Hermogene Nsengimana to discuss about the modalities of implementation of the activities in good collaboration with ARSO as well as the hosting by ARSO of the UNIDO Programme Regional Coordination Unit.

ACP Quality Infrastructure programme welcomes new experts

On 11 May, newly recruited Quality Infrastructure experts Ms Ghita Benkirane, Ms Rola Bou Khozam and Ms Janice Hilaire were briefed at UNIDO HQ in Vienna about the ACP Quality Infrastructure Programme, designed to support regional QI services in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

 Investing in Quality Infrastructure in the ACP regions for SME Competitiveness, Trade and Sustainable Development

The “ACP Quality Infrastructure Programme”, is an Intra-ACP action funded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) through a EUR 7 million contribution. The Programme is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) through a regional approach in the region and is scheduled to run until the end of the year 2025. It complements and builds on the ongoing achievements of the overall “ACP Business-Friendly” Programme and reinforcing UNIDO’s meso-level component.

Read more about the ACP QI Programme

Spinning cotton into gold: Zambia scales up handloom textiles

The Handloom Textiles Association of Zambia (HATTAZ) was established to promote local production of artisan textiles. This initiative, led by the Cotton Association of Zambia with support from the International Trade Centre (ITC), has already left a positive imprint in villages across the country. It enables smallholder cotton farmers in Zambia to shift away from the export commodity narrative by adding value to their cotton – transforming it into yarn to produce hand-woven items. It also fosters a community of local farmers, spinners and weavers who have joined forces to collectively improve their livelihoods and uplift their communities.

ITC is working with HATTAZ to train women groups across Zambia’s provinces in weaving, business knowledge and market access in the framework of the ‘ACP Business-Friendly’ programme jointly funded by the EU and the OACPS. 

So far, 25 farmers have been trained on hand yarn spinning and 15 on advanced weaving, with the goal of passing on this knowledge to their respective communities to scale up impact. Weaving and spinning packages that include handloom machines, reeds, spinning wheels and yarn have also been allocated to each farmer group. Members of the initiative have been engaged to regularly participate in trade shows, international fairs and local district shows to improve their visibility and market access.

In July, HATTAZ attended the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show, a leading Southern African regional meeting place for investors and business actors seeking new opportunities and potential. This was a valuable opportunity for the Handloom Textiles collective to exhibit its locally-made artisan products – beautiful, unique, and with a social impact to boot. The event was a success at every level –networking with new buyers and investors, increasing national visibility and capturing ideas and inspiration for market development.

Francisca Chisuta is a weaver from the Mazabuka district in Zambia’s Southern province. For her, the event was both exciting and motivating: “I’m so proud to represent my group at a national level” she said. “I’m also taking away some important lessons I plan to share with them. For example, the importance of a good display to attract customers, and new ideas on pattern and colour combinations I can’t wait to try out!”

Highlights of the event included a visit to the stand by the President of the Republic of Zambia himself, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema. Members of HATTAZ explained to him the challenges they are facing in the cotton sector, and the importance of investing in value addition in-country to move forward.

Another notable visit was that of Hon Rodney Sikumba MP, Minister of Tourism of Zambia, who encouraged HATTAZ to get organized and apply for government funding. Linking fashion, the hotel industry and tourism with emphasis on women empowerment is high on their agenda, he shared in his speech.

Connecting with the Technical Education, Vocational Education and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) was also a networking milestone. The training authority expressed interest in working with HATTAZ and funding future training – another huge opportunity for all women weaver groups involved.

Apart from enabling trade fair participation, ITC is also working closely with HATTAZ on improving market access through website development and database expansion, to help farmers market their products as well as sell online using the platform. The groups that are already producing high-quality textiles have been successfully linked to fashion designers through this programme.

Providing farmers with the opportunity to add value to their cotton is building resilience to price and weather shocks, as farmers diversify risk and income by selling cotton-based woven products. These additional earnings help support their families and businesses year-long.  

Moving forward, HATTAZ plans to help improve its members’ exhibition, marketing, and negotiation skills with continued support from ITC and the ACP Business-friendly programme.

Angola: Enabling Effective Promotion, Competition and Investment Policy 

In March 2022, the Angola ACP Business Friendly project team conducted a series of workshops on competition policy, market studies and anticompetitive practice investigation for the staff of the newly formed Angolan Competition Regulatory Authority (ARC). ARC requested these workshops to support the development of its internal procedures, as well as guidelines for policy implementation and compliance by market players. As part of the ongoing technical assistance to ARC, the team will use the feedback and discussions from the workshops to inform the final versions of the guidelines on investigation of anticompetitive practices and competition market assessments and assist in piloting the application market assessment guidance.

The team visited Luanda from May 9-13 to continue their support to Angola’s Private Investment and Export Promotion Agency (AIPEX) to advance the implementation of the Aftercare Program (Programa de Apoio ao Investidor) and discuss other program support. During this visit, the team provided a detailed assessment of the structure, organizational arrangements, and operational components of the Department of Research Investor Support and International Business (DEAINI) and formulated recommendations to enhance the implementation of the AIPEX Aftercare Program. The team also organized a workshop to present on the Systematic Investment Retention Mechanism (SIRM). The discussions and work sessions with the various AIPEX teams allowed for the identification of next steps, particularly in the agency’s strategic focus, investor relationship manager focal points, attention to companies with expansion projects, and procedure standardization. Additionally, the team also held a workshop on good practices in relation to one-stop shops for investors to assist with the design of the AIPEX single window.

Next generation Special Economic Zones to accelerate economic diversification and industrialization in Central Africa

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the ACP Business-friendly programme funded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), organised on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 a webinar on the challenges and opportunities of new generation special economic zones (SEZs) for economic diversification and industrialization in Central Africa.

This webinar, in which more than a hundred participants took part, aimed to initiate a dialogue with the various stakeholders in the sub-region on the importance of special economic zones as an accelerator of economic diversification and industrialization in Central Africa in a context of industrial revolution 4.0 and the advent of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA). High-level panelists intervened through presentations followed by discussions.

According to Raymond Tavares, UNIDO Representative for Central Africa, “The development and promotion of new generation SEZs is part of a process aimed at attracting foreign investors to developing countries. These should be aligned with the requirements of sustainability and respect for the environment that underpin the 2030 agenda and can be hotbeds of innovation that will drive change in the rest of the industry”.

Central Africa has abundant natural resources that need to be further processed locally, thus enabling the sub-region to accelerate its process of industrialization and diversification. And the development of new generation SEZs is one of the means to achieve this objective,” said Jean Luc Mastaki, Acting Director of the ECA Subregional Office for Central Africa.

The SEZs do not claim to be a panacea, they are nevertheless a formidable tool for the well-being of our populations, for a mutually beneficial, integrated development of our countries and the continent, for opening up new opportunities and for seeking progress,” said Abdoulaye Maïga, Member of the Board of Directors of the Organization of African Economic Zones. He added that SEZs, in addition to being a tool to achieve development objectives, could also serve as an instrument of peace and security, citing the examples of Mali and Burkina Faso.

François Serres, international lawyer and specialist in partnership rights, recalled that the establishment of a SEZ must necessarily align with the industrial policy of a country to avoid creating a windfall effect for investors and operators in quest for opportunities and advantages.

Nilgün Tas, Deputy Director of the Department of Environment at UNIDO emphasized the environmental dimension in the operationalization of SEZs. She presented the benefits of industrial eco-parks that address interrelated aspects, such as the transition to the circular economy, resource-efficient production and industrial symbiosis.

We must build our SEZs from our realities, from things that exist and not come from elsewhere,” said Philémon Roger Essono Obam, Engineer specializing in the design and construction of food processing plants.

This webinar, which will be followed by other similar meetings, is part of the preparatory activities for the ECA Central Africa Committee of Experts and a prelude to UNIDO’s African Industrialization Day which is recognized and celebrated on November 20.