Capacity Building for Promoting Trade and Investment in Africa

It is common cause that improved trade and investment hold out promise for attaining higher economic growth and greater gains in the fight against poverty, indeed, for the attainment of the millennium development goals. International development experience attests that countries that have entered export markets, opened their economies up to imports, and strengthened their investment climates have tended to grow faster over sustained periods of time. Unfortunately, African countries have not harnessed these potential benefits of trade and investment due to a combination of factors, not least: (1) poor infrastructure, (2) benighted government policies, (3) weak productive capacity, and (3) restricted access to export markets, particularly in those areas in which they have a comparative advantage, notably agriculture and labor-intensive manufactures. Through a survey of the literature, this paper seeks to proffer a critical appraisal of the multilateral, bilateral, and national initiatives and experiences at capacity building for trade and investment promotion for developing and least developed countries in general, and African countries in particular. The goal of the paper is distill thematic issues and lessons learnt and best practices in capacity building for trade and investment promotion, in turn to provide strategic guidance to ACBF in the implementation of its Second Strategic Medium Term Plan (SMTP II, 2007-2011) insofar as trade and investment promotion is concerned. With some foresight, the discussion in this paper appeals to two of the Foundation's six core competency areas, namely, economic policy analysis and management, and professionalization of the voices of the private sector and civil society in the development process.