Investment Climate: Africa challenged to do more

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The Investment Climate Facility (ICF) in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) released its 2014 African Investment Climate Report on Thursday in Abidjan, Day 4 of the Bank’s 50th Annual Meetings in Abidjan.

Speakers at the report’s launch commended African governments for coming to the realization that reforming their policies for an attractive investment environment is a top priority if the continent is to become a business hub.

The report was launched under the theme, ‘Investment Climate: The Journey so far’ and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who is the ICF Co-Chair, gave a keynote address in which he commended governments for finally making reforms a top priority.

“The current fast growth being seen in many African countries is due to improved policies which is a result of governments having realized the importance of an enabling investment climate to attract and grow businesses,” Mkapa said.

But Mkapa also added that although many countries in Africa are now reforming their policies, the majority of them have only scratched the surface. Mkapa called for more efforts to create the best climate for investment in Africa.

“IFC and partners like AfDB can’t impose their will on governments to improve their investment climate; it’s a voluntary decision for governments to take by themselves,” Mkapa added.

William Asiko, the ICF Chief Executive Officer, said the 2014 report is an update of what the Facility managed to accomplish in the past year and the highlights of the report, as presented on Thursday show that 35 African countries have been impacted by 42 projects that were implemented.

Examples were drawn from Mauritius where an ICF project to modernize the operations of the office of the country’s Registrar General has reportedly reduced the time to incorporate a company from half a day to 30 minutes.

Also, the filing of returns, accounts and other documents in Mauritius has been reduced from 14 days previously to seven days.

In Senegal, ICF reported that a project to modernize the country’s tax administration has resulted in an easy and fast process of declaration and payment of taxes where it now takes 15 minutes, compared to two days previously.

Corporate tax reimbursements in Senegal have also reportedly been reduced from 175 days previously to now 15 days while VAT credit refunds have also reduced from 175 days to 15 days.

Success stories were also reported in Zambia, where ICF said it has helped modernize the country’s tax authority and reduced the time to register a new taxpayer from three days to one. Filing, payment and processing of tax returns has also been reduced to a day from 16 days.

The project in its first phase has also seen processing of tax refunds in Zambia be reduced from 45 days to 30.

Shortly after the report’s launch, a high level-panel discussed the importance of reforms and how the continent can draw maximum benefits from an enabling investment climate.

Panelists included Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Trade, Jean Louis Billon; Naglaa Elahwany, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation; Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heir’s Holdings, Nigeria; Ebenezer Essoka, the Vice-Chair for Africa, Standard Chartered Bank; and Essien Albert, CEO of Ecobank.


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