Les Rencontres Africa 2017, Funding solutions to foster the private sector development in East Africa October 2017, Nairobi, Kenya.

Introduction

A multi stakeholder workshop on responsible investment in the private sector was held in Nairobi from 5th - 6th of October 2017 by Societe Generale, AfricaFrance, AFD and Proparco. Over 300 people including senior representatives from the government, private sector, civil society, development partners and institutional organizations participated in this event.

The workshop was aimed at finding funding solutions to foster the private sector development in East Africa, and the event led to the initiative towards developing the partnership between Africa and France.

During the workshop, the participants shared that Africa is the continent for the future and figures are undeniably proving it today. With high growth forecasts, innovative economic fabric, modernized modes of governance and demography with strong potential. Moreover, there exists some constraints that hinder private sector development.

  1. Knowledge gaps- one of the key problems that SMEs encounter is knowledge. Information is power, the workshop helped to facilitate direct communication between researchers and policy makers. One of the key outcomes of the outcome was to encourage active interaction between participants from diverse professional and technical backgrounds. As a result, comprehensive implementation plans and sensitization of private sector empowerment has been prepared. The technical sessions of the workshop highlighted on pathways for change and stakeholders integration.

  2. Private sector transformation requires access to capital- for most SMEs and private sector firms, access to fund avenues from mainly commercial banks remains a nightmare. Majority of them die in their first two years due to lack of sufficient resources. The key proposed solution is the involvement of different stakeholders to leverage risk when lending money, cohesive policy formulation that will reduce information asymmetry and eradicate transparency issues.

  3. Regulation- the process of going through different intermediaries in a bid to get access to work permits, licenses and other vital regulatory requirements increases the costs of operations and running startups. A vibrant regulatory framework with the market watchdogs, taxman and other vital government organizations needs to integrate. Emerging global consensus on what constitutes impact investing they can be incorporated in existing national regulatory frameworks.

  4. Empirical decisions based on empirical evidence- many stakeholders have shown interest in applying international standards recognized by sovereign states when conducting their operations, however the guidance on how to apply them in practice is needed. East African Venture Capital Association executive director Eva Warigia emphasized on having a network in which the association represents its members in areas where different stakeholders are involved. This will reduce the time required to get things on the track.

Bottom Line

Africa is a continent of the future these words have often been heard, figures are undeniably proving this today. With a demography with strong potential, high growth forecasts, dynamic entrepreneurship and modernized modes of governance, Africa has started to emerge. Partnerships in economic, human and cultural exchanges will boast the momentum and support growth. The continent presents exceptional opportunities to network and exchange ideas and develop a synergetic relationship between Africa and the rest of the world.

Afrinet Capital