Kamil Kamaludeeen: Statement at 2- Days Investment Facilitation ForumSep 9, 2013
Your Excellencies and Distinguished officials of government, Honorable O. Natty Davis, Chairman National Investment Commission, Hon. Dr. Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture, the Members of the Delegation from the Office of the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN colleagues, and participants, all protocols observed. I am greatly honored to address this opening session of the 2 days Inaugural CAADP Liberia Investment Facilitation Platform and Related Public-Private Dialogue on Domestic Investment in the Liberia Agriculture Sector Investment programme (LASIP). I wish to thank the Government of Liberia for the foresight in leading in the organization of this forum, and all collaborating partners including other Liberian public and private institutions, development partners such as USAID, IFC, EU for the facilitation and support. I consider this workshop as timely and UNDP through its CO and its Regional Private Sector Africa Facility for Inclusive Markets Project (AFIM) based in Addis Ababa is delighted to be a key part of this forum.
Ten years ago, African countries pledged to commit 10% of their annual budget as investment in the Agriculture in order to realize a 6% annual growth in the Agricultural sector. That pledge among other considerations for that sector is a compact now known as the Comprehensive Agriculture Development Programme launched under the aegis of the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD). As we all know, NEPAD is the implementing arm of the African Union (AU), Since 2003 when this compact was launched, 33 African governments and 1 region, ECOWAS, have signed CAADP Compacts and 21 have developed detailed national agricultural investment plans toward achieving the overarching goal of the African Union of fostering agriculture-led economic growth in Africa. ECOWAS has developed a version of the CAADP , known as West Africa Agriculture development programme (ECOWAP), and Liberia developed its Liberia Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (LASIP) in 2010 as a 5 year strategic plan to promote agricultural growth and investment in the country the aim of which is to stimulate private sector led investment in the agriculture sector in Liberia and to spur export growth via public-private collaboration and partnership, and to raise the public sector’s focus on the promotion of small farmer growth and development.
We at the UNDP are delighted to be a part of this effort as we have been in the past. UNDP Liberia has just signed a new programme on Private Sector and Natural Resources Governance, with the Government with the National Investment Commission as the Main Interlocutor. I am happy to note, that this programme focused on addressing the very challenges to private sector development ant that this forum is all about. On private sector development the programme will focus both on “upstream” efforts to improve the policy and regulatory environment as well as “downstream” interventions to develop capacity of local entrepreneurs for improved productivity and competitiveness. Among other things we will support areas such as increasing access to business development services for MSMEs including business incubation, south – south knowledge transfer for enterprise development, improve access to finance for MSMEs, facilitate strengthened market linkages for MSMES and support strengthened capacity for relevant quality vocational training, value chain upgrading and local content procurement leveraging. As part of this will be a focus to look at supply chain linkages with the extractive sector (enhancing local content). Our programme also focuses on the conflict sensitive and sustainable management of extractives and natural resources. In this context the UNDP welcomes the government’s commitment to the development of private sector, with investment in Agriculture, an imperative. I wish to thank the government for taking this bold step to host this very important forum.
As you embark on this two day Public-Private Dialogue and Investment Facilitation Platform I wish to remind you of the challenges ahead. Creating the business linkages between emerging agribusiness, entrepreneurs and potential local and international investors and showcasing the opportunities presented within the Liberia Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (LASIP) for further private sector investment and entrepreneurial focus is one major step, that buttresses, the government and various development partner’s ongoing efforts to support the growth of the agribusiness and agriculture sectors. However, there is need for domestic financing, entrepreneurial skills, national ownership, leadership and responsible business practices in order that business may triumph. Coming out of this forum, I hope would be unpacking selected projects that are underway and seeking investment support and to highlight specific opportunities for private sector investment in support of Liberia's LASIP. This forum would have achieved its objective, in my view, if there are low hanging fruits, such as 2 to 3 Liberian businesses that have great potential, but that need a little push through investment linkages with big companies/investors so that they grow. We should be able to see for example, that a restaurant/hotel would be interested in partnering with a local producer of horticulture products. We will welcome and encourage agriculture cooperatives, producer association and SMEs especially those involving women and young discussing with bigger off-taker companies and urban food retailers concrete opportunities to provide food, input supplies, transportation, processing, distribution and other services along the value chain.
Certainly, there are so many good things happening in Liberia. Last week, Liberia hosted the High Level Meeting on Fragility. In the same week, there was another meeting to determine a common African position, on the Post 2015; in the same week, LIBA in collaboration with CBL and UNDP and other partners launched the LIBA Business Incubation Center and Website. Today, we are having this forum to promote investment and bolster agriculture production. Similarly, these two day programme kicks off what would regard as a “CAADP Week” in Liberia as it precedes a three day regional conference being held under the theme “Maputo at 10” that is also being organized by the Government of Liberia through the MOA in collaboration with NEPAD that will run from the 11-13 of September. In a sense Liberia is making history, consolidating its peace and stability, joining the community of nations once more. Staying the course, addressing both the soft and hard issues of employment and infrastructure, I believe the country is bound for great success toward its vision of a middle country within the pre- defined time frame. The development of long term vision with a transformation agenda, and current effort aimed at investment promotion and facilitation, including comprehensive strategy for private sector growth that recognizes the needs of the local entrepreneurs, while keeping an eye on effective management of natural resources is a right step in the right direction. Therefore, Liberia’s Private-Public Dialogue and investment facilitation is one surest solution to unlocking the progress to sustained growth and development. Let me thank you all for coming and to wish you fruitful deliberations.
I thank you.
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