DAR ES SALAAM – The Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF) is celebrating the impact of 73 reform initiatives that are making Africa a better place to do business. Implemented between 2007 and 2016, these initiatives are making it possible for businesses to register, pay their taxes, solve commercial disputes, clear goods through customs, and so much more, in a quick, simple and transparent manner.
Simplification and efficiency are helping to speed up economic growth, ultimately changing the lives of millions of Africans. Specifically, ICF has worked with 21 African governments, three regional organisations and the private sector to set up online business registration and licensing systems, to set up electronic single window systems for trade that speed up the clearing of goods at customs, and to set up online systems for paying taxes.
In addition, ICF has helped countries to create electronic land registration systems, to set up electronic systems for commodities trading, and to increase government’s ability to partner with the private sector in public-private partnerships.
ICF has also built the capacity of African governments, public institutions, private sector and citizens in a variety of areas including business skills, commercial law, hydropower plant maintenance, contract negotiation, financial markets and global food standards. Countries were encouraged to learn from each other and share best practices, further increasing the impact of investment climate reforms.
ICF Chairman Neville Isdell paid tribute to the team’s vision and commitment to delivering transformative change in Africa, calling out a series of key achievements, including 9 commercial courts created and 4 arbitration courts operationalised to resolve commercial disputes quickly and transparently, 5 single windows for trade established to modernize the clearance process of goods in key African ports and 6 online tax systems introduced to reduce the time and cost businesses incur in fulfilling their tax obligations.
“That ICF has played such an important role in galvanizing the transformation of the continent’s investment climate is a source of great pride. We are confident that our legacy – the blueprint for public-private partnership that we leave behind – will allow others to build their own success long after our departure,” said Neville Isdell.
Speaking about the achievements, ICF Co-Chair and Former President of the Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, said: “ICF was set up to prove that investment climate reforms can be done quickly, using little resources while creating great impact for the private sector, governments and countries in general. We have done this. We have shown that it is possible. Now it is up to African countries to follow the example set by ICF and to pursue greater investment climate reforms that will spur Africa’s development and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of its people.”
Efforts made by many African countries to improve their business environments have been recognized by the World Bank in its annual Doing Business Report, which ranks how easy it is to do business in different countries. Over the past nine years, many countries that have worked with ICF have improved their rankings, including Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and Rwanda. The 2016 Doing Business Report ranked five African countries amongst the top ten improving nations, with sub-Saharan Africa alone accounting for roughly 30% of all regulatory reforms that make it easier to do business.