Business News of Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Source: GNA

ECOWAS intensifies preparations for Second China Business Forum in Accra

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will hold an inaugural meeting of Presidents of Regional Business Associations (RBAs) as well as a joint meeting with the Inter-Ministerial Private Sector Organizing Committee to intensify preparations for the Second Business Forum with China from March 20–21 in Accra.

A statement from the Communications Unit of ECOWAS said a two-day meeting, which ended in Accra on March 9, and attended by officials from the relevant Ministries, Departments and Private Sector of Ghana, enabled ECOWAS officials to review preparations for the Forum from the perspectives of the ECOWAS Commission, Ghana’s Government and the private sector.

Mr Eno Umoessien, Leader of the ECOWAS Delegation said the meeting was to enable them to evaluate the preparations and challenges to ensure that the Forum achieved its objective of attracting more Chinese investments into the West African Sub-Region and leveraging the Asian country’s massive foreign reserves.

Over 1,000 participants from West Africa, including 200 private sector operators and 150 government officials attended the inaugural Forum, which was hosted by China in Beijing in September 2008.

It focused on stimulating Chinese investments in energy, mining and petrochemicals, construction, textile and light industry, as well as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, financial services, machinery, electronics and telecommunications.

The statement said, several Memoranda of Understanding and agreements for investments worth billions of dollars had been signed between Chinese companies and the Governments of Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria’s Western State of Osun, for various infrastructure development projects such as airports, roads, dams and discussions were on-going for other projects.

It said China had opened the West African Office of China-Africa Development Fund in Accra, Ghana since 2011, to coordinate its operations in the Sub-Region.

The Second ECOWAS-China Business Forum will focus on attracting additional Chinese investments into the power sector and infrastructure development, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, agro-food and allied services, mining, as well as Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

It will be organised in a three-layered structure with the opening ceremony, presentations and a third session dedicated to business, trade and investment discussions by private sector and government operatives from the two sides.

The meeting, which was attended by representatives of five associations, provided participants with the opportunity to share activity reports for 2011, plans for 2012 with discussions on the impending regional forum.

In attendance were representatives of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Federation of West African Employers Association, ECOWAS Federation of Women in Business and Entrepreneurs, NEPAD Business Group of West Africa and Investment Promotion Agencies of West Africa.