Namibia: Social, Environment Factors Key for Successful Investments

OTHER than concentrating on profits, a larger open market and infrastructure, the social well-being of the population and the state of the environment in which the company will invest can make a difference on whether an investment will be successful.

These were the views of the stakeholders at an event of the International Trade Centre (ITC) late last year, under the Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa (Piga) project and in collaboration with the Investment Promotion Agency of the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China.

Represantatives from the four countries where Piga is active - Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozombique and Zambia - and Chinese investors operating in them, as well as sustainability experts and business representatives, attended the meeeting.

The stakeholders said while social and economic development aims to reduce poverty, boost incomes and secure food and energy, finding the balance between a business case and development factors can make all the difference.

"Investments must be aligned to inclusiveness, agriculture, energy and education. The focus is on investments that help diversify the economy, add value to natural endowments and generate employment. It is, therefore, key for investors to learn about the development priorities of the country because there are specific incentives linked to the priority sectors," said Innocent Melu, investment manager of the Zambia Development Agency.

Environmental and sustainability concerns should also make it to the list said one of the delegates at the meeting.

"Climate change is an economic reality, not a threat; it is real and needs to be taken into account by all investors. Climate change and land and water sustainability are not mere corporate social responsibility issues, but are 'survival of your company' issues," said Clare Pearson, Director of international development at DLA Piper Global law firm.

Founder and chief operating officer of Sunshine Nut Co, Donald Larson said while consumers have more and more demands on traceability, companies cannot just choose to abide by a certification and use it as a marketing tool.

This is what needs to be done, to look at all financial, environmental, social and transformational factors.

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