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Highlight: Taking stock of business development reforms in Africa

24/10/2012, Nairobi, Kenya, sub-Saharan Africa

IDRC joined with TrustAfrica and Strathmore University to convene an international conference on “Business Climate Reforms in Africa: Celebrating Achievements, Sharing Experiences and Networking among Stakeholders.” The conference, held October 24-25, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, was organized as part of the Investment Climate and Business Environment Research Fund (ICBE-RF), a joint initiative of IDRC and TrustAfrica started in 2006.

With the African continent lagging behind other parts of the world with regard to investment rates, innovation, and business development, the ICBE-RF was initiated with the goal of supporting local researchers in their quest to make African growth inclusive and sustainable. The ICBE Research Fund combines competitive research grant mechanisms, training workshops, and partnerships between business schools and private-sector organizations to find answers to the challenges facing the business community on the continent. Findings are ultimately expected to contribute to a better investment and business environment in Africa. The research-to-policy approach of the Initiative promotes interactions of all stakeholders in the business environment, including policymakers.

The conference brought together leaders of investment promotion agencies, policymakers, civil society organizations, business leaders, and researchers. Over two days, participants had the opportunity to reflect on impending factors to business development in Africa, and to celebrate achievements in reforming the continent's business and investment environment. Conference participants also discussed ways to keep the current reform momentum alive, informing new policies with empirically backed evidence from research.

As pointed out by the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u: “Business climate reforms should ultimately improve Africa’s competitiveness and export markets. Competitiveness embodies an institutional and policy environment approach.’’ Speaking at the same conference, Simon Carter, IDRC's Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, emphasized that “…stimulating the economic environment will go a long way towards attracting more entrepreneurs and creating jobs.”

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