The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is mainstreaming $30 billion (N4.8 trillion) for the establishment of an investment facilitating agency in the sub-region.
The move was in response to the need for improved business environment capable of attracting more investments into the sub-region.
At the just concluded conference on feasibility study guarantee and reinsurance agency in the sub-region, drivers of a renewed process for conducive business environment maintained that such an agency would ensure that efforts by national governments to attract foreign, regional and local investors are better coordinated.
Regional experts at the forum, in Abuja, yesterday, further submitted that public awareness is imperative for the scheme, as a lot of people in the region are not correctly informed of the availability of an international modem, which supports attraction of investment to other regions.
The task on hand now, according to them, is the identification of the exact and tested modems by the proposed agency with the aim of supporting both local and foreign prospective investors in countries of the region.
What is needed in the new time is the political will of member states and the needed stability, as the agency is expected to be put in place before the end of the tenure of the present management of ECOWAS commission in February 2016.
Briefing journalists at the end of the conference, the ECOWAS Director, Private Sector, Dr. Alfred Braimah, said the projected fund would be freed “in conjunction with the private sector equity contribution.”
“Bearing in mind that the infrastructure requirement in the West Africa sub region is high as of today, the investment requirement to tackle the challenge is therefore also very high. But ECOWAS member states are committed to making sure investors have value for their money.”
He added: “It is true that infrastructure is a challenge, it is also true that whatever you call a regional infrastructure has a national element in it, for example, if you take transport like on the highway, along Lagos- Abidjan corridor, you would see that its not a facility for one country alone, and so, for most of those regional programmes that would improve trade and investment, all the member states are willing to provide and contribute to the ECOWAS, to make sure those infrastructure are intact.
“Member states are also ready to provide the right diplomatic condition to make business conditions favourable.”
The unconducive the African environment for business informed the ECOWAS commission to look at an appropriate modem that could support the attraction of investments to the region.
This unfortunate reality, it was learnt, prompted various government officials to visit countries like Japan to understudy how it was able to attract investments over the years.
Findings have since shown that those countries that have solid foreign direct investment base including Japan, also have in place “investment guaranteed tools” that stood them out so well in the area of investment and trade.
Braimah added that societal advancement and the fact that the private sector gets more resourceful in terms of capital endowment, made it imperative for governments the world over to look at the public private partnership option as a driving force for the growth of any country’s economy, unlike the pre colonial regime, when infrastructure were fully provided and managed by government.
He said the knowledge that partnering with the private sector is the only way out made it compelling on the commission to now begin the quest for the establishing the agency.
“The option is for us to look at an investment guarantee and reinsurance agency, it is basically to be the fallback and frontline guarantee for projects that government can handle jointly with private sector and can also handle on their own.
“That is what informed the idea that generated from private sector organisation, the West Africa insurance company association for us to look at the possibility of establishing this agency.” he added