COMESA-AMSCO sign pact for Private Sector development
The private sector in the Eastern and Southern Africa region is set for a major boost following the signing of a development agreement between COMESA and the African Management Services Company (AMSCO). Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the COMESA, Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya and the AMSCO Regional Manager Abraham Lanor in Lusaka Tuesday, the latter commits to provide training programmes to strengthen project support for private sector development in the COMESA Member States.
AMSCO will design and implement the Private Sector Development (PSD) and poverty reduction programmes on a sectoral or thematic basis. The aim is to complement the existing PSD Programmes of COMESA and will be done in collaboration with existing Country PSD initiatives and interested donors.
AMSCO is a Special Purpose Vehicle established by the International Finance Corporation in The Netherlands, to serve as the operational unit of the African Training and Management Services (ATMS) Project. It will recruit and second international experts to strengthen the management and technical capabilities of beneficiary enterprises and apex bodies of the private sector.
The Company will also recruit country nationals to understudy and get trained by the AMSCO Managers and by the programme;
Mr. Lanor who represented the AMSCO Managing Director Mr. Paul Malherbe said his organization was pleased to sign the agreement with COMESA as it provides a platform for his organization to support economic development in Africa through the private sector.
“We have been waiting for this opportunity for some time”, said Mr. Lanor. “This agreement now makes it possible for us to get close to Regional Economic Communities that have the mandate to promote regional integration through private sector driven development economic development”.
The ATMS funding will be provided to qualifying beneficiary enterprises and impact initiatives with priority to small enterprises (less than USD3 million in revenue and less than USD3 million in Gross Assets); medium enterprises (USD3 million to USD15 million in revenue and Gross Assets); and African-owned enterprises and National and Regional Private sector member associations.
In his remarks Mr. Ngwenya cited numerous challenges that COMESA face in the development of the private sector. Among them is the lack of support to programmes and projects being undertaken by the various private sectors.
“There is an apparent lack of skills among entrepreneurs in SMEs and this has adversely affected the achievement of the standards that the market requires”, said Mr. Ngwenya. He further observed that the private sector needs to get more involved during the tripartite negotiations for the Free Trade Area. He said the signing of the agreement marks an important step towards support for the private which COMESA undertakes key programs in the region such as the leather and leather products, textile and garments and the agro processing sectors.
“In particular, the program should focus on the development of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) given that they are the key drivers to economic development”, said Ngwenya.
On infrastructure, the Secretary General identified the need for the private sector in the various Member States to work together on infrastructure projects that the region is implementing. Besides, the Public Private Partnerships lacked the capacity to undertake infrastructure projects and a clear understanding on what was required.
Under the MoU, the priority beneficiary enterprises shall include the private sector enterprises duly registered to transact business in the Member Countries, commercially operated state enterprises, national and regional private sector member associations and institutions aiming at ensuring socio-economic development and Public Private Partnerships initiatives
The ATMS is a joint project of the United Nations Development Programme, International Finance Corporation and the African Development Bank project for the provision of Training and Management Services to African Private and Public Enterprises.
Image Source: www.chronicle.co.zw