National Champions Need to Be Supported to Attain Robust Prosperity

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Kigali — The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), through its Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa (SRO-EA), will organise the 18th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) from 17 to 20 February 2014 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ICE meeting will focus on the theme of "National Champions, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Structural Transformation in Eastern Africa".

This theme was informed by the realisation that even though the Eastern Africa region has continued to achieve impressive growth rates averaging 6.4% growth between 2008 and 2012 compared to 3.7% for Africa and 1.7% for the rest of the world, this performance has not been translated into rapidly improving job markets and failed to lead to broad-based poverty reduction.

"We need to see national and regional champions created and supported, and help foster effective collaboration between public and private sector and the development world. This is the essence of the emerging economic philosophy called Africapitalism, a private sector led partnership mode focused on Africa's development", said Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of UNECA and Tony Elumelu, a businessman from Nigeria in a jointly written article.

The 18th ICE meeting is expected to define how much can be expected of domestic investors to attain sustainable growth through industrial development and structural transformation.

"In the emerging new economy, National champions have become strategic partners for better and inclusive transformation," said Antonio Pedro, Director SRO-EA. "Our countries have to position them to be major players for sustainable prosperity with the view to own our development process".

Pedro highlighted that investments and resources spent on growing National Champions would pay off in long-term wealth accumulation and would promote infrastructure that enhances the quality of life and provide opportunities for diversification.

"Foreign Direct Investments can also boost national champions, if foreign companies were investing in human resource development whereby the knowledge and technological skills are transferred to local players", Pedro added.

Alongside the 18th ICE plenary sessions, special ad-hoc expert group meetings (AEGMs) will equally be held to review UNECA non-recurrent publications on: - Leveraging New Trading and Investment Partnerships for diversification in Eastern Africa: the role of emerging markets;

- Fostering social cohesion for improved regional integration; and

- Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and National Champions

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