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The Africa Investment Promotion Agency Network (AfrIPANet) is a UNIDO Programme that has been established to provide African Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) with a common platform to discuss and design investment promotion strategies. The network aims to build the capacity of African Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) by providing accurate, up-to-date investor information and technical assistance to help them to re-adjust investment promotion strategies towards the implementation of customized business support services to reap the benefits of international investment and link local productive sectors to the global economy.

AfrIPANet was initiated in 2001 and has grown since then from strength to strength, drawing on more participating countries and deepening discussion and debate on investment promotion strategies in Africa. Currently the network comprises a forum of 38 IPAs in Africa.

As AfrIPANet grows and develops, it is becoming increasingly important to formalize the initiative. In the recognition that for further growth and strengthening, an informal network would not suffice, AfrIPANet members agreed on the need to formalize the network to have an identifiable African regional body on investment promotion. 

At its 4th meeting in 2008 AfrIPANet members unanimously adopted a governing instrument, a Memorandum of Association, and elected their first Executives and a Steering Committee. The position of the two Vice-Presidents went to Mr. Daouda Moussa and Mr. Denan Kuni of the IPAs of Niger and South Africa respectively.  The Investment Promotion Agencies of Nigeria, represented by Mr. Stephen Amase, Uganda represented by Professor Maggie Kigozi and Côte d’Ivoire represented by Mr. Daouda Siloue and the Regional Investment Promotion Agency (RIA) of COMESA represented by Mrs. Heba Salama were elected to join the President and the Vice-President in the Steering Committee.

Objectives of AfrIPANet

The UNIDO-Africa Investment Promotion Agency Network (AfrIPANet) was launched in November 2001 in response to the challenges facing African investment promotion agencies (IPAs).  These agencies have been established over the last several years to serve as the primary national institutions charged with promoting and facilitating investments, especially foreign direct investment (FDI). 

There were unrealistically high expectations that the newly created IPAs would swiftly prevail over the government and market failures hindering the flow of FDI into Africa.  Challenges such as complex international marketing, intense competition, over-regulation and weak governance, as well as limited financial and human resources, have constrained their impact.

AfrIPANet aims to address some of these constraints through realising the following objectives:

  • To develop new strategies suitable for the limited resource base of African IPAs and improve their effectiveness in mobilizing domestic and foreign investments;
  • To provide guidance and support to the IPAs in designing activities and improving their effectiveness in influencing policy decisions;
  • To provide guidance to UNIDO and donor agencies in the design of capacity building activities and focus interventions in areas expected to bring the most impact;
  • Provide a permanent platform for training and capacity building of IPAs and maintain continuous linkages between the IPAs and UNIDO's network of Investment & Technology Promotion Offices (ITPOs);
  • Build upon the achievements of UNIDO's integrated programmes in the member countries and bring permanence to the partnerships between UNIDO and IPAs as established through capacity building programs.

For the inaugural meeting of the Network in November 2001, a pilot survey of foreign investors was conducted to provide inputs to the discussions regarding what kinds of investors come to sub-Saharan Africa, what their expectations were, what their experiences have been and what their predictions regarding growth and future investment are.  The results of this pilot survey covering Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania entitled "Foreign Direct Investor Perceptions in Sub-Saharan Africa" were summarized for presentation and possible uses of the information for developing promotion activities were discussed. The 10 member IPAs unanimously recommended that the survey should be conducted for all member countries on a regular basis. Broadening the scope of the study would provide high quality information on the factors that currently facilitate and encourage FDI flows (as well as those that constrain and discourage it) to the region and allow the IPAs to design more focused strategies. 

Member investment promotion agencies are also foreseen to benefit from UNIDO tools and networks:

  • The Network of Investment and Technology Promotion Offices (ITPOs) includes UNIDO offices located in selected capital exporting countries. Their primary objective is to promote investment opportunities from developing countries among the business community of their respective host countries. ITPOs sensitize small-scale industries to the business opportunities in developing countries. The ITPOs also host the investment promotion professionals from developing countries for on-the-job training under the delegate programme.
  • UNIDO provides technical assistance for establishing and operating "Subcontracting and Partnership Exchanges" (SPXs) . SPXs are technical information, promotion and match making centers for industrial subcontracting and partnership between main-contractors, suppliers and subcontractors.
  • UNIDO International Technology Centers focus on industrial application and commercialization of new technologies and innovations. The centres and their networks function as a bridge between the research community and the commercialization of technologies.
  • COMFAR (Computer Model for Feasibility Analysis and Reporting) is a UNIDO developed computer software that permits the user to simulate the short and long-term effects of financial and economic situations in investment projects.
  • UNIDO INTEGRATED PROGRAMMES (IPs) aim at improving industrial competitiveness and thereby contribute to poverty reduction. To optimize the chances of achieving this, the focus of integration is not only at the level of UNIDO services selected for the programme, but also integration at the level of donor mechanisms, with national counterparts and with other development activities in the country or region. An integrated programme focuses on the critical problems that constrain the achievement of the country's industrial objectives, it seeks out areas where UNIDO assistance could have a catalytic or multiplier effect; looks for synergy with United Nations and other external aid programmes; and aims at a reasonable balance among economic, social and environmental considerations. The building blocks of the Integrated Programmes are the following UNIDO services:
  • Industrial governance and statistics
  • Investment and technology promotion
  • Quality and productivity
  • Small business development
  • Environmental management
  • Industrial energy and Kyoto Protocol (Climate change)
  • Montreal Protocol (Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer)