In January 2014, almost a year after the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSC-F) for the DRC and the Region, the Heads of State of the PSC-F signatory countries approved a Regional Plan of Action (RPA) for Implementation of the PSC-F. The RPA included provisions for holding a Private Sector Investment Conference (PSIC) for the Great Lakes region to strengthen economic cooperation, expand trade opportunities as well as stimulate job creation to bring about long-term stability and peace in the region. The Heads of State and Government of the PSC-F signatory countries asked the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region and the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to organize the PSIC.
The Preparation for the PSIC has entailed a number of key activities. With support from UNDP an Investment Opportunities Brief (IOB) was produced showcasing illustrative projects gathered during extensive consultations with various stakeholders in the public and private sectors of the member states. In June 2014, in collaboration with the UN Global Compact, a roundtable on responsible investment for the Great Lakes which included discussions among government officials, private sector and academia to benchmark and highlight quality investments that would enhance PSC-F implementation. Subsequently, a Regional Consultation on the IOB and the PSIC which was held on 17-18 December 2014 in Luanda, Angola. This Consultation reviewed and endorsed the IOB and the preparation of the PSIC. By the deadline given to member states on 31 January 2015, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) emerged as the only which submitted a formal proposal to host the PSIC and was given the right to host the Conference.
On 31 August 2015, the ICGLR and the Pan-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) supported by the Office of the Special Envoy of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region (OSESG-GL) held a meeting attended by representatives of National Chambers of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Private Sector Foundations/Association (PSF/A) and Business Councils to launch the establishment of the Great Lakes Region Private Sector Forum (GLRPSF). In tandem, PACCI assisted by the ICGLR and OSESG-GL held a workshop on 1-2 September 2015, attended by NCCIs, PSF/As, Business Councils, Regional Economic Communities, and other Development Partners. The workshop discussed the regulatory environment and investment climate and how to improve it to enhance attracting investment into regional projects.
Structure of the Conference
The Conference will be designed to foster interaction, learning and ‘matchmaking’ of concrete investment opportunities. With a view to achieving its objectives, the Conference will be structured to include plenary context setting and wrap-up sessions with high level speakers from the public and private sectors, as well as parallel dialogue sessions around priority sectors more conducive to match-making. It will also feature parallel exhibitions from member states as well as projects which are not covered in the main conference.
The IOB compilation process revealed several projects which are at different stages of preparation and design as well as a variety of actors engaged in defining, designing and/or implementing the various project ideas that were proposed. The PSIC will inevitably build on on-going and planned initiatives at national, regional and continental levels that are aligned to the objectives of the PSC-F.
Since the IOB, on which the PSIC will be based, identified seven key priority sectors (Infrastructure, energy, mining, agriculture, tourism, ICT and Finance), the PSIC is envisaged to be held in a series of conferences over time, with each Conference focusing on a few priority sectors each year. This will enable in-depth treatment of themed sectors in the main conference halls, and provide greater likelihood of securing appropriate investments. Other priority sectors will be showcased at subsequent conferences, through exhibition pavilions where project-sponsors will be on standby to make presentations on demand. The first conference might feature in the main: infrastructure, energy, mining and agriculture; while the second conference might feature Tourism, ICT and Finance. The IOB will be updated every other year, taking stock of developments and identifying emerging priorities.
The Conference Phase
The conference is proposed to take place in Kinshasa, DRC, at the Grand Hotel, on 24-25 February 2016. It will be spearheaded by the PSIC-SC and PSIC-CS, organized and presented in conjunction with DRC as the Host country, and in partnership with development partners of the Great lakes Region. The key activities at the conference will include:
- Presentation of 12-15 realistic value propositions from the key agreed sectors (agriculture, infrastructure, mining, energy, tourism, ICT and Finance) identified in the IOB, to a carefully targeted group of potential investors outlining the specific opportunities and their commercial viability. These will include both outright private investments and public-private partnerships (PPPs). Other projects not highlighted in the main plenary but of importance to individual promoters may be sign-posted to the exhibitions in the pavilions.
- Provision of an opportunity for potential joint venture partnerships between foreign companies and local Great Lakes companies, and intra-partnerships among Great Lakes local companies.
- Great Lakes Governments communication about improvements in the business and investment climate of Great Lakes Region and a prioritized action plan for continued improvements. This might be through a public-private dialogue broadcasted live with provisions for callers-in from the member States.