Industrial restructuring and upgrading programme in Central Africa
The most notable economic characteristic of the Central African region is the abundance of raw materials. However, countries in the region have not yet transformed from resource dependence to a dynamically diversified industrial economy, and therefore they failed to respond to the demands of the regional market. Industry in these countries largely remains rudimentary, or is diversified to a very limited extent. The region is also characterized by a poorly developed private sector. The contribution of small- and medium-sized enterprises to GDP is rather low.
In this context, the 10th European Development Fund’s Regional Strategy Paper for Central Africa emphasized economic integration and the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement. A so-called "Programme to support trade and economic integration" (PACIE) was initiated to assist Central Africa in its effort to achieve a sustainable integration into the world economy.
The "Industrial restructuring and upgrading programme" in Central Africa is an integral part of the PACIE, focusing on developing competitiveness, trade and common market. The programme aims to help strengthen the productive capacities of the Central African countries.
The Programme is funded by the European Union (EU), and managed by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa in cooperation with the Economic Community of Central African States. It is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
UNIDO’s technical assistance seeks to stimulate competitiveness and regional integration of the industries in Central Africa, and spur growth in employment, as well as to promote manufactured goods from Central Africa on the regional and international markets.
To achieve these goals, the programme will upgrade and modernize companies, improve their access to finance, support institutions which can assist companies’ activities, and strengthen entrepreneurial culture and entrepreneurship. The programme will benefit from UNIDO’s technical competences and experience drawn from the upgrading and modernization programmes that are already in place in countries such as Tunisia, Senegal and Tanzania.
The programme has four main components:
• Component 1: Strengthen regional institutional capacities related to industrial upgrading and support the private sector;
• Component 2: Strengthen capacities of supporting institutions that provide assistance to the private sector;
• Component 3: Support the national structures of the programme and improve the business environment;
• Component 4: Pilot programme – enterprise upgrading and business competitiveness
The programme covers seven countries: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, and São Tome and Principe.
The main stakeholders are the following:
• Industrial manufacturing SMEs and craft industries eligible for industrial upgrading, in addition to service companies linked to industrial activities;
• Supporting and management structures of the industrial sector;
• Public administrations;
• Professional organizations of the private sector and producer associations;
• Financial institutions;
• Consulting firms and individual consultants;
• Academic institutions and vocational training institutions.
The programme will:
• Enhance and harmonize the regulatory and business frameworks in Central African countries in order to improve the competitiveness of SMEs engaged in the manufacturing sector;
• Improve the capacity of industrial supporting institutions (both public and private) and the consultancy sector. This includes providing tools and methodologies to expand and improve their services regionally and nationally;
• Improve the overall market position, financial performance, management capacity, organizational and process quality, and operational capacities of the SMEs operating in selected value chains, thereby improving their competitiveness and regional market share.