News

Lessons learnt and recommendations for the way forward

November 30, 2016

Our journey to deliver over 70 projects over the past nine years of operations has yielded a rich vein of learning experiences for ICF and our partners and we feel strongly that we have a responsibility not just to report on what we’ve delivered but also to reflect on how we have delivered it.

Some initiatives have been an unmitigated success, surpassing even our own ambitions, whilst others have been extremely challenging to implement. We believe that we can scale up the impact of our work – and the impact of other initiatives in this field beyond ICF –by sharing our experiences candidly and stimulating a conversation into how best to engage on these critical issues.

In this way, we hope to accelerate the pace and scale of successful investment climate initiatives and enable others to save critical time and resource that may currently be directed into areas where we have already ventured and prepared the ground for reform. In this spirit of open exchange and collaborative learning, ICF has documented various aspects of project implementation that serve as lessons to inform future project design, implementation and completion. These are as follows:

Pre-approval Processes

National budget cycles should be taken into consideration during the project development stage. Project Agreements that are signed after approval of the National Budget may experience challenges in sourcing funds for government contributions during implementation, causing delays in implementation.

Projects which are approved during general election periods are also likely to experience delayed implementation. Prior to approval, the adoption of relevant regulations, decrees, or laws by the beneficiary government and approval of ICF Procurement Guidelines by national procurement authorities, help reduce the risk of delays in implementation.

Project Management Team

Leadership matters. Projects with strong leadership, ownership and a dedicated, full time team are usually successfully implemented. Project Directors in particular must be assigned as full time staff.
Management capacity is often limited in post-conflict countries so all projects should be initiated with the creation of a project management team, whose members may well benefit from technical assistance or skills transfer provided by partner institutions.

Roles and responsibilities need to be clearly articulated in order to maintain clear accountability in delivery (i.e. through performance based contracts) and clear lines of communication should be maintained between all parties in order to promote ownership.

Financial Management

Disbursement schedules for government contributions in the Project Agreement should be adhered to during implementation in order to ensure projects are delivered on schedule and on budget. Projects also need to account for donor and Government contributions. Financial management should adhere to basic financial governance principles such as segregation of duties, reconciliation of the bank account, keeping comprehensive and accurate records about expenditures and maintaining appropriate checks and balances.

Operations

ICF Procurement Guidelines should be shared and understood by the Project Procurement Officer as well as the national procurement agency in order to facilitate shared understanding of and realistic planning for procurement activities, particularly regarding timelines for procurement. In cases where there is a preferred supplier/consultant to provide goods/render services under the single sourcing method, this should be stipulated in the Project Agreement in order to avoid delays in the procurement process.

For larger and/or more complex projects, a change management specialist is required to sensitize users to the new systems. Resistance to reform can be a major barrier to successful implementation so in addition to training, appointing a change management specialist strengthens the project management team’s ability to foster ownership of the system and/or reforms by all stakeholders.

Communication campaigns geared towards building awareness of the changes being implemented through the project need to be adequately budgeted for and implemented at various levels throughout the project life.

Campaigns that only take place when the product is launched do not provide adequate time for users to be sensitized and if key stakeholder groups are not aware of the reforms which have been delivered, and therefore do not engage with the new systems, the value of the reform will be limited. Consultant contracts should be deliverable-based in order to boost accountability by ensuring that payments are made against verifiable outputs.

A Project Operations Manual allows both the project management team and the funder to establish a clear and shared understanding of the roles and responsibilities of that team and the Steering Committee, the stages of seeking non-objection from ICF in the procurement process and establishing financial management procedures. Decision-making and implementation often moves more quickly when there is ICF presence at the project sites. Regular site visits allow ICF to gain a contextual understanding of the environment in which the project is being implemented and to adapt the approach as required.

Governance

Steering Committees (SCs) should have fewer than 8 members in order to facilitate regular, well-attended meetings. SC members should have sufficient levels of authority to make decisions on behalf of the institution they represent. The SC should also meet quarterly to ensure the project management team is committed and that project implementation is on schedule and benefits from their support.

Infrastructure

When designing investment climate reforms that save time, reduce bureaucracy and simplify procedures, administrations and institutions need to be virtually connected. This requires governments to have the right infrastructure for communication (i.e. high speed broadband connectivity) to accelerate the flow of information between those institutions, particularly where large volumes of data are involved.

Skills

Effective implementation of investment climate reforms requires high calibre leadership skills, a detailed technical understanding of the specific reforms and exposure to countries applying best practice standards.

Countries with a higher skills base are more likely to succeed in implementing end-to-end investment climate reforms than those with limited skills so South-South learning platforms can be invaluable. In order for end users to maximize the value and benefits they derive from investment climate reforms, basic IT skills are necessary to enable them to adequately use new systems. There is a need for broader reform programs in education systems across Africa to produce entry level administrators with the necessary skills in areas such as ICT, management and leadership.

Recommendations:

Since ICF was established nine years ago, we have witnessed an extraordinary shift in the investment climate across the continent. Economies that were relatively closed, with complex bureaucratic systems and limited accountability between government and citizens are opening up, becoming more regionally and globally competitive and as a result, the inflows of capital have been transformative for many societies.

The investment climate shapes people’s trust and confidence in doing business in countries. It is the foundation upon which jobs are created, businesses are established and grown, and governments raise tax revenue to fund vital social services, leading to sustainable development and ultimately poverty alleviation.

Therefore, it is critical not only to analyse and address all sources of inefficiency and friction, but it is also vitally important to communicate proactively and widely about the reforms being undertaken to build trust in the reform process and its outcomes. In this way, the diverse stakeholders for any given reform understand both the limitations of the status quo and the potential benefits of the reform so they are appropriately motivated to support its implementation.

Strong change management and engagement throughout the implementation process is important to build public anticipation of the benefits of reform – taking it out of the technical domain and framing it as a people-centric initiative which will make a meaningful difference to people’s lives and livelihoods.

This approach is already yielding results. Investors and governments alike have demonstrated a great appetite for reform and one of the most encouraging trends we have seen through our work is that successful reform is often the departure point for further reform –accelerating and deepening the impact and rendering it more sustainable. A progressive, demand-centric approach to attracting and retaining investment thus becomes embedded in a nation’s administrative culture and infrastructure and re-shapes the way it engages investors and citizens.

In that sense, we believe we have barely scratched the surface in terms of investment climate reform in Africa. We envisage that the real impact of our work will continue to be realized over the years to come.

Governments will see the reform process as a key pillar in building their competitive advantage. Organizations such as ICF can play a catalytic role in pioneering new models for reform and scaling up the impact of the reforms by linking governments across the continent to share experiences and exchange best practice, pooling vital skills and knowledge. This is the ultimate test of an African-led, public private partnership and we are honoured to have opened up this space for so many people to benefit.

01 December 2016

For the past nine years, ICF had one goal – to work with African governments and the private sector to improve the investment climate in Africa. Now, nine years later, we have successfully completed this mandate and will therefore close at the end of December 2016. Read More »
30 November 2016

When ICF was started in 2007, business faced real challenges when trying to operate in Africa. Despite the increased awareness among international business communities of the investment potential that African countries had to offer, much cynicism remained about whether things will ever really change in Africa. It was therefore fundamental to further enable business, as a means of creating wealth, employment and opportunities, ultimately resulting in better livelihoods and the increased well-being of communities across the continent. Read More »
30 November 2016

Our journey to deliver over 70 projects over the past nine years of operations has yielded a rich vein of learning experiences for ICF and our partners and we feel strongly that we have a responsibility not just to report on what we’ve delivered but also to reflect on how we have delivered it. Read More »
23 November 2016

The South African Municipal Capacity Development Project has successfully come to an end. Funded by ICF, Anglo American South Africa and the Government of South Africa, the project aimed to improve the service delivery performance of five municipalities to make them more attractive for doing business. The project was implemented by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). Read More »
23 November 2016

The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) has launched its upgraded One Stop Centre for investment promotion. Funded by ICF and TIC, the upgraded Centre will boost TIC’s role of encouraging, promoting and facilitating investment in Tanzania. Read More »
31 October 2016

Since its establishment, ICF has been able to build a diverse project portfolio by working with multiple African governments and various regional organizations. In just nine years, ICF’s unique approach has attracted an unprecedented number of projects that have delivered real results for African businesses. Read More »
31 October 2016

In Burkina Faso ICF assisted in establishing an electronic single window to speed up the clearance of goods at customs. As a result, pre-clearance processing has been reduced from 15 days to three days. This trade facilitation project integrated seven government agencies, five private sector agencies, 10 commercial banks and five insurance firms. The number of documents required for imports has been reduced now to only seven compared to the former 10, and only three documents are needed for exports. Read More »
07 October 2016

The ICF-funded Seychelles Financial and Regulatory Capacity Support project has come to an end. Implemented since August 2015, the project sought to increase the ability of the Seychelles Government to diversify the financial services sector in the country and provide better regulation and oversight within the sector. Read More »
03 October 2016

When the Government of Burkina Faso decided to reform and improve its business environment in the latter half of the 2000s, it embarked on a comprehensive and transformational mission. Three decades of sometimes overreaching and rigid government had left the country with an opaque, confusing and arbitrary bureaucratic system wholly unfavorable to both business and Burkinabés. Read More »
03 October 2016

Africa has always been a continent with significant investment potential. When ICF was conceived in 2005 at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, businesses faced real challenges when it came to operating in Africa, primarily as a result of weak infrastructure and a discouraging investment climate. Since 2007 ICF has been involved in various projects with an aim to improve and change the investment climate in Africa. Our 2016 Completion Report gives an overview of the challenges that were addressed and the successes that were achieved in the past nine years of ICF operations. Read More »
09 September 2016

Implemented between 2007 and 2016, these initiatives are making it possible for businesses to register, pay their taxes, solve commercial disputes, clear goods through customs, and so much more, in a quick, simple and transparent manner. This simplification and efficiency is helping to speed up economic growth, ultimately changing the lives of millions of Africans. Read More »
07 September 2016

On 31st August 2016, ICF held its Completion event in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to mark the end of its activities and celebrate the achievements it has attained since 2007. With over 73 projects implemented in 9 years, ICF’s work has made it easier for businesses to operate in 36 African countries. Read More »
06 September 2016

Damte Tariku has been trading coffee at the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange since 2012. He works for S. Sara Coffee Export Enterprise, a family-ran business, which exports more than 40 containers of coffee each month to Asia, Europe and America. Although S. Sara owns four coffee farms, it still needs to buy coffee from other suppliers to supplement its export volumes. Read More »
01 July 2016

Starting a business can be a cumbersome, lengthy and often expensive process. Many countries’ business registration processes involve bureaucratic systems which often rely on manual procedures. These lengthy processes can gradually hinder and discourage entrepreneurs from opening a business. Read More »
01 July 2016

According to the 2016 World Bank Doing Business Report, when a country’s business registration and licencing processes are not simple, business owners might choose to run their business without the appropriate licensing. The establishment of online registration platforms, including digital forms of identification such as electronic signatures, is a good way to modernise business registration and licensing processes. Such platforms provide greater access to businesses and help to reduce time and costs associated with registering and licencing a business. Read More »
31 May 2016

Most small business owners in Africa are competing for business in an increasingly competitive global environment and entering into agreements with third parties is a business norm for those wanting to succeed. However, when one party or the other fails to keep the promises that were agreed on, disputes arise and it is vital for business continuity that all disputes are resolved in an effective and timely matter. This is why Alternative Dispute Resolution plays a critical role in promoting business activities in Africa. Read More »
31 May 2016

Contract enforcement refers to the systems and processes involved in being able to get a contract enforced through legal action. Proper contract enforcement practices enhance the predictability of commercial relationships and reduce uncertainty by assuring businesses and individuals that their contractual rights will be upheld by local courts. Read More »
03 May 2016

It is evident that successful integration into the world economy increasingly depends on the realization of a series of complex measures that fall under the heading of trade facilitation. During a World Trade Organisation Roundtable in Kenya last year, Anabel Gonzales, Senior Director of the World Bank Group Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness, said that these measures include anything from institutional and regulatory reform to customs and port efficiency and are inherently far more intricate and costly to implement. Read More »
03 May 2016

Cargo delays at African ports are one of the major obstacles to trade in Africa and in turn hinders economic development on the continent. When cargo spends too much time at ports while waiting for clearance for export or import, it increases the costs for traders, businesses, and ultimately the consumer. Read More »
03 May 2016

On 29th April 2016, ICF and the Government of Rwanda celebrated the successful completion of four projects aimed at improving the business environment in Rwanda. Read More »
31 March 2016

The Seychelles Government has launched a national Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy with the aim of increasing private sector participation in the provision of public infrastructure and services in the country. The policy provides a framework for Government and the private sector to interact in partnership arrangements that are mutually beneficial to both sides. Read More »
31 March 2016

During the past few years the topic of land registration in Africa has been addressed numerous times. Recently, the Ethiopian Urban Development and Construction Affairs Standing Committee pressed for sound land registration systems in the country, to maximise efforts to upgrade the documentation of land registration systems. Read More »
31 March 2016

In 2008 it used to take about 235 days to register land property in Sierra Leone due to laborious manual processes of recording land titles. Information about land was submitted by members of the public and stored as hardcopy paper archives resulting in long delays and high costs which in turn caused reluctance among commercial banks to accept property as a form of collateral for credit. Read More »
29 February 2016

The economic foundations of the West African country of Senegal include industries encompassing agriculture, natural resources and commodities, while tourism and the hospitality industry are also growing in importance. Against this relatively diverse economic background, ICF, together with the Government of Senegal, has been particularly involved in projects in the areas of customs modernisation to facilitate trade across borders, tax reform and construction permits. Read More »
29 February 2016

The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) is responsible for the registration and storage of all asset related documents in Mauritius. This includes documents related to movable and immovable property transactions. Read More »
29 February 2016

Around the world, governments and multinational corporations are increasingly setting their sights on Africa as a new frontier for doing business. Potential investors want to understand where and how to invest in the most rewarding and efficient manner. Read More »
02 February 2016

A business goes through several stages of its life cycle, from inception to registration, expansion and finally closure. In each of these stages, businesses have to interact with various government institutions, like business registration bureaus and licensing bodies. The Rwanda Business Lifecycle Project set out to improve the services that the Government of Rwanda provides to businesses at each stage. Read More »
02 February 2016

In 2016 we enter our ninth year of helping to foster a positive business environment across the African continent. At ICF we believe that the private sector plays a key role in boosting economic growth, through the production of goods and services, and distributing wealth through wage earning jobs – both of which are crucial in helping countries to develop and fight poverty. Read More »
26 January 2016

William Asiko, the CEO of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), will be speaking at the tenth Biennial US-Africa Business Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which takes place from 1 to 4 February 2016. It is the first time that the summit is being held in Addis Ababa. Read More »
25 January 2016

Monday 25th January 2016, Lusaka — The COMESA Business Council’s (CBC) Local Sourcing for Partnerships (LSP) project supported by the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), USAID and the Private sector will hold the first training of its kind in Zambia for 80 food suppliers on quality standards and food safety. The training will take place from 25-28th January 2016 at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia. Read More »
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