The side event was successfully organised, jointly by the EU and the African Union, and was attended by over 200 participants. Opening remarks by Mr. Sam Kutesa (President of the UN General Assembly) and opening speeches emphasized the need for creation of enabling environments for private sector engagement, and the key catalytic role that the private sector will play in the transformation agenda of the African continent, as well as in financing the development of the continent, leveraged by blending mechanisms.
The first panel (Contributing to build a strategic framework for working for, and with, the private sector towards achieving the AU ‘Agenda 2063’) was attended by H.E. Commissioner Acyl (African Union), Ms. Linda Mc Avan, member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Development Committee, Klaus Rudischhauser and Ms. Lynette Chen, CEO of NEPAD Business. It was moderated by Ms Jacqueline Mugo, Secretary General Business Africa. Panellists re-iterated their view that the real way out of poverty for Africa is to generate meaningful economic growth that will lead to job creation. They also shared their view on the priorities, in particular the need to establish an enabling environment that will allow investments in the region, and in particular the need to support capacity development in public administration, local manufacturing processes, upskilling, training of the workforce in order to create jobs in particular in SMEs. Panellists also underlined the need to ensure that the appropriate tools are in place, in particular to leverage private sector investments. Finally, they insisted on the need to involve private sector in the early stages of policy formulation (the AU is setting up a framework to consult private sector stakeholders) and called on the private sector to be responsible and work for public interest, engaging with, and implementing the right policies, whereby the payment of taxes is essential to the advancement of public spending and the financing of public goods and services, which in turn catalyse the necessary growth of the private sector.
The second panel (“Catalysing private sector resources and engagement for development through blending, in particular in the agriculture and energy sector “) was attended by Mr J. Moineville, (Deputy Director General of the Agence Francaise de Developpement); Mr Marc Engelhardt, (Director of development and Sector Policy of KFW Development Bank); Mrs Heike Ruettgers (European Investment Bank) and Eng. Isaac N Kiva (Director of Renewables Energy at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum of Kenya). Mr Roberto Ridolfi moderated the second panel. In a context where the EC wants to step up its blending activities and is looking for blending to be smarter and leverage more private investments, the panellists presented innovative case studies, presenting a strong involvement of private sector stakeholders. His Excellency Erastus Mwencha, AUC Deputy Chairperson closed the event and commended the European Union for its cooperation with the AU and the efforts to catalyze and mobilise resources from the private sector. He added that both Agriculture and Energy not only are paramount sectors for ensuring sustainability and food security in the future, but also are the avenue for transformation of the continent, and are in need for continued and targeted support.