20 June 2014

Africa: IFC Investment in Africa Hits U.S.4.5 Billion

Of the US25 billion of its world investment portfolio, the International Finance Corporation, which is a member of the World Bank Group focused on private sector development, says Africa accounts for US4.5 billion of the amount.

Liberia is one of the countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa benefiting hugely from IFC interventions In Liberia.

But as indicated by IFC's Resident Representative, Frank Ajilore, their expectations for Liberia is not as they wished or envisaged.

"Our investment has not been as we expect it to be," Mr. Ajilore told a news conference Wednesday, and stated the reasons as the lack of the environment because "Liberia is just coming out of a conflict situation."

In order to address the situation, he said, the first consideration is the building of an environment which will allow private sector to participate in the economic activities.

"So currently, our focus is on building that investment climate to be able to set the platform for private sector entities to be able to participate in the economy," he said, and reflectively added that since 2010, the IFC only has fifteen advisory programs; one of which is the collateral launched Wednesday in Monrovia.

The IFC is working with the Commerce Ministry in support of SMEs activities, and at the same time has been instrumental in the establishment of the Commercial Court.

IFC also helped in establishing the ASACUDA system at the ministry of Finance intended to aid the government in its customs and excise operations.

"So the collateral registry is one of those we helped to put in place," he said.

Concerning its role in the collateral registry initiative, Mr. Ajilore said it was more of administration, stressing "we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Central Bank of Liberia."

The IFC was involved in carving the law regarding the process as well as backing the development of certain activities that led to the success of the process.

On the issue of whether an assessment was done on the need for collateral registry initiative, he answered in the affirmative, saying "yes, we did some assessment with the SMEs.'

"The SMEs and the enterprises majorly have associations that you can tussle, entities like the Liberia Chambers of Commerce," the IFC resident representative said.

Access Bank, according to him, is IFC's SMEs bank that has over fifteen thousand customers.

At the same time, he said the Liberian government, as part of its broader economic revitalization program relying on the goodwill of partners such as the IFC, has asked the entity's involvement in its listing and local supplies linkage program. As part of that initiative, a team from the IFC along with the ministries of finance, commerce and justice and National Investment Commission will see a demonstration of the listing of operation in Nigeria.

"We believe that this is a very important tour that will open up and able to get backing of government in the program," Mr. Ajilore said.

The SMEs linkage program which is to tie in small businesses to concessions is part and parcel of the endangering of opportunities for SMEs, he said and added "This is going to be led by the national investment commission and the Liberia Chamber of Commerce." At the same time, IFC official said he is of the strongest conviction that collateral registry initiative will work in Liberia, as it is has worked in countries that established it.

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