At present, trillions of dollars of under-invested capital are seeking higher returns while, at the same time, developing countries seek investment, expertise, knowledge and implementation capacity to grow. What can we do now to accelerate these linkages in agribusiness, transport and logistics, and digital infrastructure in Sahelian and WAEMU countries, three sectors with significant growth and job creation potential? This year’s Development Finance Forum (DFF) in Abidjan will bring together business leaders, policy makers, thought leaders and financiers from private and public sectors in the regions and beyond to collectively drill down on what can be done to address some of the biggest challenges to scaling up private investment in these areas.
The DFF aims to bring together the stakeholders that can change the risk-return landscape in developing countries - both to achieve clarity on the roles each has to play, and to explore promising ideas, initiatives, and partnerships that need extra impetus to become successful. Through its focus on action and the identification of specific constraints and opportunities in Africa, the DFF aims to offer a pre-investment platform for the public and private sector to explore market-building alliances and opportunities in Africa.
The DFF will provide a forum for policy dialogue forum among the leading public and private sector participants on three themes considered critical to the development of the region.
Agribusiness: Food Security and Agribusiness Competitiveness
Increasing the competitiveness of agribusiness is critical for job creation, growth, food security and stability in West Africa. With agriculture accounting for 35% of West Africa’s GDP and 60% of the active labor force, the sector is pivotal for the region. West Africa is a world leader in the production of cocoa, cotton and cashew, and livestock is of great value in many of these countries. West African value chains, however, significantly lag behind those in other parts of Africa. Promoting better performing regional agribusiness value chains requires coordination between different policy, investment, and institutional reform areas across different sectors including agriculture, trade, private sector, finance and infrastructure. The DFF participants will discuss regional and local solutions to implement politically feasible, well-coordinated, and adaptive approaches to increase sustainable access to infrastructure, finance, and natural resources, improve value addition within supply chains, and remove constraints for private sector investments in agribusiness.
Transport: Urban Mobility and Regional Logistics Corridors in West Africa
Urban mobility and regional logistics corridors are considered critical to deliver the goal of Sustainable Mobility for All in West Africa. They can provide improved regional connectivity and enhanced access to efficient, climate-friendly, and safe transport services. This, in return, would create opportunities for people and firms through enhanced access to education, jobs, services and markets. Local and regional economies can also greatly benefit from improving the efficiency of regional corridors, including through their connection to end-users within cities. Sustainable mobility enables social and economic development and addresses environmental challenges posed by climate change. The DFF participants will tackle key constraints and policy issues including harnessing private finance and know-how at local, national and regional levels to sustainably improve urban mobility, key reforms needed locally to help improve the performance of regional corridors, and improvements needed in the regional corridor operations to better support importers/exporters of West Africa.
Digital Infrastructure in West Africa: Promoting Competition and Private Sector Development
The development of high-speed internet can stimulate economic growth and job creation, support e-commerce, foster entrepreneurship, extend access to finance, and help governments tackle poverty through improved service provision. However, countries in West Africa lag in digital infrastructure. Several markets in the region can benefit from greater competition and, in particular, wholesale, carrier neutral broadband infrastructure to reduce the cost of deployment and make broadband more widespread and affordable. Many of these countries could also benefit from the entrance of other operators. Regulation that curbs market dominance and promotes infrastructure sharing is critical to enable a digital ecosystem to develop further. The DFF will provide a forum for operators and independent infrastructure providers interested in these markets, as well as for regulators and policy makers, keen on strengthening their capacity to tackle market dominance and realize the many benefits of digital development.