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ICC and COMESA Business Council join forces to foster private sector development in Africa

  • 13 November 2020

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council (CBC) have announced a commitment to strengthen private sector development in Africa.

The collaboration was formally announced by ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO and CBC Chair Marday Venkatasamy during a virtual meeting of the ICC/WCF Africa Action Network. The meeting gathered more than 65 leaders from ICC and CBC networks, including ICC national committees, chambers of commerce, business associations and other partners to find practical solutions to local and regional challenges in Africa.

Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding, signed in the presence of the ICC/WCF Africa Action Network, ICC and CBC  will contribute to the advancement of economic and social progress in Africa by taking joint action locally, nationally and internationally to provide targeted solutions to global challenges, like climate change, inequality, and finance for development. Critically, the collaboration will also provide small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to tools, resources, skills and networks to strengthen their businesses and constructively influence policy and economic decision-making processes.

Signing the MOU on behalf of ICC, Mr Denton said: “There are enormous similarities between the objectives of ICC and those of CBC. The fact that we are now able to bring CBC and ICC together to work for the advancement of the interests of business in Africa is a fantastic opportunity. We will not let you down. We look forward to working closely with the COMESA region and are greatly honoured by the trust they have shown in ICC by seeking to join forces for the common endeavour to improve the lives and livelihoods of all those who live in Africa.”

On behalf of CBC, Mr Venkatasamy said: “This agreement symbolises ICC and CBC’s commitment to engage, collaborate, and partner to foster private sector development in Africa. This engagement is very timely, for both the CBC and ICC, as the impact of COVID-19 has necessitated a change in trade dynamics, which has emphasised the need for greater reliance on business and private sector-led growth. We look forward to working together towards strengthening the participation of African businesses in multilateral negotiations related to trade, investment and sustainable development.”

In collaboration, ICC and CBC will advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals by creating social and business solutions to shared regional challenges and increase the participation of African businesses in multilateral negotiations and forums related to trade, investment, and sustainability.

Prior to providing insight into the trade facilitation landscape in Africa, ICC Executive Board member Valentina Mintah referred to the MOU saying: “The signing of today’s MOU between ICC and COMESA will contribute to the advancement of economic and social progress of Africa and its trading partners while providing the necessary tools, advocacy and resources to assure the voice of African business in policy-setting, investment sustainability and multilateral trade negotiations.”

Today’s meeting of the ICC Africa Action Network also included welcome remarks from Babatunde Savage, Chair of ICC Nigeria and ICC Regional Coordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa, and Kiprono Kittony, Vice-Chair of ICC’s World Chambers Federation.

Business and chamber leaders also discussed global priorities for ICC and participated in a panel discussion exploring the challenges and opportunities for strengthening partnerships for businesses in COMESA and international markets. The meeting concluded with a call to action for members of the Africa Action Network to engage in a set of agreed actions to help facilitate trade in the region.