NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 29 – The private sector is now calling for a paradigm shift in relations with the donor community in order to raise the investment and competitive profile of Africa.
Industrialist Chris Kirubi argues that as the engine of growth for the African economy, the private sector needs to be consulted by the development partners on how funds to the continent are utilised.
“The partners such as European Union offer a unique opportunity for Africa but we need to change the way it relates to the private sector which fuels growth in all these countries,” he said while making his contribution at the third European Union African Business Forum.
Observing that money to African governments continued to be misappropriated by those in power, Mr Kirubi particularly challenged donors to empower women and the youth in order to drive growth and competitiveness across Africa.
“If you can support our women and our youths, this continent would be very far. No one should disregard the role of women and youth empowerment in development,” he stated.
His views were supported by the Director of South African based marketing company, Upbeat, Nathalie Chinje who said the development partners should start channelling funds through for economic growth to be realised in Africa.
“We need to have strong private sector representation in all these forums that are headed by the EU and other organisations, because there are people out there who are eager, innovative and who are willing to take Africa to the next level,” she told Capital Business on the sidelines of the two-day Forum.
Development partners sometimes decline to fund projects particularly those by people in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector, as they are not packaged attractively and because the entrepreneurs lack the expertise to run such programs, she said.
In this respect, she urged her fellow African businesses to strive to improve their skills so that they can benefit from the loans and grants extended by the donors.
“We have this fantastic SME Development Program and we believe that the growth of the continent has to go through such kind of development,” Ms Chinje added.
The Forum brought together more than 250 business leaders and government officials from Africa and Europe and was held a few months ahead of the African Union Summit of Heads of States and Government in January 2010.
It was an opportunity for businesses to share their views, network and defend the interests of the sectors they operate in with the policy makers.