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Harnessing the potential of business diplomacy for investment promotion in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries

24 January 2024

ACP training group

BRUSSELS – The 79 member states of the the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) are facing significant challenges in relation to food security, energy, and financial market performance, all exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As investments are essential to overcome these challenges, almost every African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) country has at least one dedicated national-level investment promotion agency (IPA), mandated to attract and facilitate inward investments. However, recent empirical evidence collected by UNIDO and the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) from IPAs in the ACP region shows that most of the agencies struggle to target their efforts, are confronted with high costs of effective global investment attraction activities, and have a marginal overseas presence under their direct control.

UNIDO believes that the ACP countries' diplomatic networks, as a permanent presence in strategic market locations abroad, can significantly enhance the impact of IPAs' efforts in attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment (FDI), amplify the IPAs' outreach in foreign markets, and generate leads in a cost-efficient and effective way.

Over 40 diplomats, including ten Ambassadors from ACP countries (Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Eswatini, Jamaica, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe), have actively participated in a three-day business diplomacy training, organized by UNIDO and the Secretariat of the OACPS. The training was designed to further enhance the business diplomacy functions of ACP embassies and their technical personnel.

The objective of the programme was to equip the technical staff of ACP embassies with the knowledge and tools to fully harness the potential of business diplomacy in fostering sustainable investments and economic growth.

In particular, it is aimed to achieve the following: (i) understanding and navigating the key drivers and pitfalls of business diplomacy, while strategically targeting and attracting investors, (ii) mastering effective communication strategies and image building to harness the potential of diaspora and regional cooperation in FDI promotion, (iii) leveraging partnership settings between national investment promotion agencies and business diplomats, and (iv) raising awareness about newly developing topics influencing FDI dynamics and determinants, such as impact investing and supply chain strategies.

The three days were packed with interventions by expert speakers and with networking opportunities. Concrete case studies were presented by Angela Musgrove, Director on the Board of Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies, Kamal Chetty, Chief Executive Officer of Investment Fiji, Edin Erkocevic, Business Sweden Director & Swedish Trade Commissioner for Turkey, and  Mekondjo Kaapanda-Girnus, Namibia's Ambassador to Belgium, the Netherlands & the European Union.

This business diplomacy training is part of the broader “ACP Business-friendly: Supporting value chains through inclusive policies, investment promotion and alliances” programme, funded by the European Union and OACPS. Through this project, UNIDO is providing extensive capacity building and technical advisory support in matters related to investment facilitation and promotion to investment promotion agencies and institutions in countries in the ACP region, underpinned by the implementation of the UNIDO investment promotion toolkit, including digital tools such as the Invest-in-ACP Platform.

For more information, please contact:

Stefan Kratzsch, Team Lead, UNIDO Sustainability Standards and Responsible Business Unit (IET/PST/SSB)