Ecowas Launches “Improved Business & Investment Climate In West Africa Project” Website

The ECOWAS Commission is pleased to announce the “go-live” of the web portal of its regional Investment Facilitation Programme; “IMPROVED BUSINESS AND INVESTMENT CLIMATE IN WEST AFRICA PROJECT”. The website hosts project relevant information, as well as the ECOWAS Investment Climate Monitoring Scorecard and Report of pilot Member States’ reform outcomes. This website demonstrates the emphasis the ECOWAS Commission is putting on private-sector competitiveness as a strategy for regional economic development and integration.

The “Improved Business and Investment Climate in West Africa Project” was a 5-year initiative funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the World Bank Group’s Investment Climate Advisory Services Team, in collaboration with the Private Sector Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission. The Euro7.7m Project, which was launched in 2014, was a critical component of the Support for West African Private Sector Competitiveness Programme of the 11th EDF.

The Project had the overall goal of supporting the ECOWAS Commission and the Member States to improve the investment climate in West Africa by facilitating investment policy and investment climate reforms and by reducing administrative barriers to cross-border investment entry and operation in the Member States. The key vehicles for implementation of the Project comprised identifying such barriers through public-private dialogue, while securing high-level commitments to reforms and catalyzing such reforms through advocacy, capacity building, and technical support that positively impacted benchmarking, reporting and publication.

Under the Project, a dynamic investment facilitation mechanism — the ECOWAS Investment Climate Scorecard — was developed by the Implementation Team as a tool for benchmarking Member States’ investment-related reforms under the Project. This mechanism is an innovative instrument that serves as a simple, flexible, and evolving policy tool to enable both the ECOWAS Commission and national policymakers of the individual Member States to achieve the following goals collaboratively:

  • Identify barriers that impede investments both nationally and regionally; and in turn, require reforms that can propel expanded investment activity in the ECOWAS Common Investment Market (ECIM);
  • Track the progress of national investment climate policy and investment entry reforms carried out by the Member States under the Scorecard;
  • Share good practices not only among government policymakers, regulators, and administrators, but also among private-sector investors, at both the national and regional levels;
  • Showcase positive reform achievements undertaken by the Member States to potential investors;
  • Encourage the creation of a transparent and attractive investment milieu to enhance private-sector-led development in West Africa.

The Project was implemented in six pilot Member States – namely, Cote d’Ivoire Ghana Mali Nigeria Senegal, and Sierra Leone – with selection based on two criteria of improving regional investment poles and strengthening the fragile states.

The Scorecard implements the key provisions of the ECOWAS Investment Policy and Code – which were adopted in December 2018 by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, as the policy, legal and regulatory drivers of the ECIM – through measurable indicators for benchmarking compliance by Member States; and for reform advocacy and monitoring in the ECIM. In so doing, the Project has helped deepen ECOWAS regional integration, especially in the area of regional investment in the ECOWAS common market.

From Project conception, planning, implementation and monitoring, the public-private dialogue was the vehicle that informed the policy reform choices, commitments and approaches of all pilot Member States, as it also has informed the outcome of the Scorecard Assessment, which Member States showcased in the peer-to-peer learning and project closure event held in December 2019 in Dakar, Senegal, in which all the 15 Member States participated.

In that PPD platform, which brought together Ministries in charge of Investment, Investment Promotion Agencies, the Private Sector, the Media and civil society, the pilot Member States had the opportunity of sharing their experiences and lessons learnt under the Project, as well as showcasing the impacts made by reforms on investment flows and private sector competitiveness with themselves and other Member States. From suggestions and recommendations on how to improve on the Programme in order to realise the goal of improving the attractiveness of the region in competition for FDI from the rest of the globe, the Programme is being prepared to cover the rest of the Member States.

Some of the key achievements recorded under the project include:

  • Upscaling the capacity of policymakers and regulators in investment climate and investment policy making as well as transfer-pricing regulations, documentation and implementation in Member States, leading to increased national fiscal revenues;
  • Facilitation of intraregional and foreign direct investment in Member States through the removal of investment climate and investment policy barriers;
  • Developing model special economic zone (SEZ) laws in Liberia, Nigeria, and Senegal, as well the blueprint for the forthcoming ECOWAS SEZ Law and Implementing Regulations;
  • Lending technical support to pilot Member States to compile and publish their investment incentives regimes to make them accessible to all stakeholders and improving their administration by the Member States Governments;
  • Helping some of the pilot countries like Senegal, Nigeria, and Ghana to reform their investment codes, and
  • Facilitation of public-private dialogue platforms (National Scorecard Implementation Committees) to continuously address and remove investment-deterrent barriers.

Finally, the Project recently spawned the approval of the ground breaking 5-year World Bank Group (WBG) Upstream SEZ Project in West Africa (UPSEZWA) that constitutes an innovative strategy to create new markets and to address inveterate market failures in both the ECOWAS common market and the reminder of the African continent. UPSEZWA provides cross-cutting and multi-disciplinary upstream legal advisory services to establish world-class SEZ legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks throughout Africa, including through the forthcoming ECOWAS SEZ Law, to create transformational SEZs as developed and operated by private-sector enterprises. The innovative focus of UPSEZWA is on Medical (COVID-19) SEZs in the novel coronavirus world at both the national and ECOWAS regional levels that are expected to spill-over into the rest of the African continent under the AfCFTA.

www.investclimate.ecowas.int

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