As part its efforts to re-engage with the Central African Republic, International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, supported the organization of a 5 day national forum on private sector development presided over by Catherine Samba-Panza, the country’s transitional Head of State.
Workshops during the forum focused on forestry, mining and agriculture as key development sectors, and introduced a public-private partnership (PPP) model to infrastructure development. Other key issues discussed included taxation, investment incentives, women entrepreneurship, and inclusion in the regional economy. A short film highlighted some investment opportunities available in the country.
The World Bank Group’s Investment Climate Team highlighted areas measured in the Doing Business report as an opportunity to improve the business environment for small businesses, through growth-stimulating reforms. Small businesses were particularly affected by the recent political and military crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR)
Jean Christophe Carret, World Bank Country Manager for the CAR, said, “The World Bank Group is open to re-engagement with key internal and external stakeholders in the CAR to promote private sector-led growth through support to the health and infrastructure sectors, including transport and energy.”
World Bank Country Director for the CAR, Paul Noumba Um, said, “Sustaining the achieved rigor in public governance is key. Relentlessly supporting and even accelerating public governance reforms will help control expenditures and increase revenues. With support from IFC, re-establishing the public-private sectors’ permanent consultative framework is one of the prime measures to be taken in order to improve the investment climate.”
The forum’s 500 participants included cabinet members and senior government officials, representatives of employers’ associations, civil society members, women entrepreneurs, business managers from across the country, and international business and development organizations. The forum’s goals included identifying bottlenecks hindering the development of the private sector, and nurturing a new economic development approach for the country.
IFC has previously worked with public and private sector partners in the CAR to improve the investment climate and support small business growth, particularly in and around the capital, Bangui. IFC was also engaged with the country’s chamber of commerce, helping it build its capacity to serve local businesses.
The forum was co-financed by IFC’s Conflict Affected States in Africa Initiative (CASA), which is supporting private sector growth in nine fragile countries in Africa, including in the CAR. CASA is supported by donor partners Ireland, the Netherlands, and Norway.