Connect with us


Bulgaria strengthens its co-operation with the OECD via an Action Plan




As part of Bulgaria’s efforts to deepen and structure its co-operation with the OECD and contribute to the country’s public policy and reform agenda, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has presented an Action Plan to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

Bulgaria’s OECD Action Plan opens the path for greater engagement with a range of OECD bodies and identifies a number of policy areas where OECD experts will interact with Bulgarian officials to strengthen public policy and the drive for successful reforms.   

Prime Minister Borissov delivered the Action Plan during a bilateral meeting with Mr Gurría in Poznan, Poland, in the margins of the 4-5 July Western Balkan Summit of the Berlin Process.   

“The activities outlined in the Action Plan will give Bulgaria access to key information and recommendations to develop and strengthen its reform agenda in favour of strong, inclusive and sustainable growth,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “It is Bulgaria’s plan, based on Bulgaria’s priorities. We are committed to leveraging OECD expertise and sharing best practices to help Bulgaria advance its reform agenda and move closer to the standards of the OECD.”

The Action Plan consists of 21 policy areas that will support Bulgaria’s key reform priorities in: economic policy, investment, financial affairs, fiscal affairs, budgeting and public expenditures, corporate governance and state-owned enterprises (SOEs), science and innovation, education, digital economy, consumer policy, trade, development, tourism policies for sustainable and inclusive growth, agriculture, the fight against corruption, employment and social entrepreneurship, environment and climate change, statistics, public management and regional development, health and competition. 

During the implementation of the Action Plan, the OECD will conduct a number of policy reviews in various areas of the Bulgarian economy, to provide specific recommendations drawing on OECD best practices. This will include for instance an OECD Economic Survey of Bulgaria, a Public Governance Review and an Investment Policy Review. In addition, Bulgaria intends to adopt and implement several international standards, including the OECD Codes of Liberalisation of Capital Movements and of Current Invisible Operations, while enhancing its participation in OECD committees on corporate governance, digital economy policy and public governance, amongst other.

Continue Reading


A Recipe for Africa: Tolerance, Trade and Youth Opportunity




Africa has a recipe for sustainable growth, following this year’s agreement on a ground-breaking trade deal that promises to soften borders across the continent, the Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum on Africa told participants.

While big challenges remain to translate the promise of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) into jobs and economic growth on the ground, there is a palpable sense of hope that the components for success are now in place.

“I like to think of this CFTA as the most delicious African dish that can be produced,” said Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre. “The ingredients have been assembled, the cooks are in the kitchen. The guests are impatiently waiting for this dish to be served.”

The “dish” is vital for the 200 million young Africans aged 15-24 who need to see the continent move up a gear to a higher level of economic growth if they are to secure jobs and contribute to their countries’ prosperity as the workers of the future.

Sipho Pityana, Chairman of AngloGold Ashanti, said the free trade deal is a “catalyst”. However, it is now up to political and business leaders to implement the removal of trade barriers and ensure sufficient investment in infrastructure and logistics to truly accelerate cross-border trade flows.

“We need to soften our borders to enable easy movement,” Pityana said. “We need leadership that is capable and has the determination to act collaboratively.”

For investors, this is a critical moment – and also a testing time for the claim made by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the meeting that this will be “Africa’s century”.

“From a business point of view, I view Africa as a large-scale start-up, just as East Asia was in the early 1990s,” said Alex Liu, Managing Partner and Chairman of A.T. Kearney. He argued that the continent could leapfrog ahead in certain areas, just as it has already done in mobile payments.

Including the whole of society will be crucial to delivering sustainable success, given the rapid pace of change in the workplace and the disruptive effects of new technologies with the arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Africa’s left-behind youth and discriminated-against women have already made clear they are not prepared to tolerate the status quo.

“If we don’t bring society with us then we will end up with similar tensions that the first and the second and the third industrial revolutions had,” Farrar said.

That also requires long-term thinking and a multistakeholder approach from business. Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer of the END Fund, a philanthropic initiative tackling neglected tropical diseases, said it is clear that successful companies have to chase more than profit.

“It’s amazing how many times I engage with the pharma sector and they say: ‘We keep the best people because of our programmes on engaging in neglected diseases’ – but that’s one of the things that helps with retention, helps with talent acquisition.”

André Hoffmann, Vice-Chairman of Roche, said Africa’s extraordinary natural heritage also needs to be cherished and is an opportunity for development. “Nature is not something that stops you from developing but it is an opportunity. In fact it is a $1 trillion opportunity for investment,” he said.

Meeting outcomes

Reflecting on the challenges and opportunities of the region, the meeting produced numerous notable outcomes:

• An action plan was launched to tackle the crisis of gender-based violence. The plan is initiated by African Monitor working with multiple stakeholders and backed by the government of South Africa through the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and UN WOMEN in South Africa. The plan has three core priorities:
o To work with the technology industry to deploy a free emergency response system for women under attack in nine provinces in South Africa
o Support for women entrepreneurs as a means of promoting economic empowerment
o Establishment of a fund to help support South Africa’s gender-based violence strategy and action plan

• The Africa Growth Platform was launched to help start-up businesses access finance, advice and better regulatory conditions. Founding partners are Alibaba Group, A.T. Kearney, Dalberg Group, Export Trading Group, US African Development Foundation and Zenith Bank.

• The African Risk Resilience Platform was initiated. It will combine private-sector resources with those of governments to help countries prepare for climate- and disease-related disasters.

• The World Economic Forum teamed with the International Trade Centre to kick off an E-Commerce Action Agenda. The initiative is aimed at promoting cross-border data services in Africa, an industry that could create 3 million jobs across the region by 2025.

• The African Union, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, launched a new foundation paving the way for the private sector to help build capacity and resources to strengthen health security across the continent.

• The World Bank and the Forum teamed up with African governments to launch an innovation challenge aimed at finding new ways of using drones across Africa. The competition, supported by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, is a precursor to the Africa Drone Forum, which will be held for the first time in 2020 in Rwanda.

• The Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership signed a national partnership with the country of Ghana. The partnership aims to combine public- and private-sector resources to tackle plastic pollution and unmanaged waste. The partnership is the first signed with an African country, following an initial partnership signed with Indonesia earlier this year.

• Five private sector partners announced $23 million in new pledges for the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment. Donors include Goodbye Malaria, Project Last Mile, GBCHealth, Zenysis Technologies and Africa Health Business.

Continue Reading

EU Politics

The European Union continues to lead the global fight against climate change




The European Commission today adopted a Communication reaffirming the EU’s commitment to accelerated climate ambition. Preparing for the Climate Action Summit by the United Nations Secretary General in New York on 23 September, the Commission recalls that the European Union has been at the forefront of global climate action, negotiating an inclusive international framework to respond to this challenge, while acting domestically with unity, speed and decisiveness. The EU has put concrete actions behind its Paris Agreement commitments, in line with the Juncker Commission priority of establishing an Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy.

Commission Vice-president for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: “With the Paris Agreement, for the first time all parties committed to reduce emissions. Now we must make sure these reductions are timely enough to avoid the worst of the climate crisis. The European Union will bring to New York the fruit of our work on the Energy Union: a realistic perspective of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, backed by ambitious policies set in binding legislation. The EU has ensured that all sectors contribute to the transition. At the Climate Action Summit, we hope our plans will inspire other countries, and we hope to be inspired. Our message is simple: Europe delivers.

Commissioner for Climate Action and energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: “The European Union has a powerful story to tell at the UN Climate Summit later this month. We are a global climate leader and our climate action is an outstanding example of delivery, including in the context of our Long Term Strategy process. The EU’s approach is to ensure that climate ambition is not only about headline targets, but about actual delivery on our promises, about making sure that objectives will be fulfilled and emissions reductions will happen. As shown by the EU-wide survey published today, our approach has a very strong mandate from our citizens. I am proud to share these messages also in New York.”

The European Union is the first major economy to put in place a legally binding framework to deliver on its pledges under the Paris Agreement and it is successfully transitioning towards a low emissions economy, with a view to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Ambitious climate action enjoys strong democratic support. According to the latest special Eurobarometer on climate change as published today, 93% of Europeans believe that climate change is a serious problem.

Moreover, the EU and its member states, true to their commitment to multilateral action rooted in science, are actively preparing to communicate by early 2020 a long-term strategy with the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, as proposed by the Commission. The Commission presented its vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy in November 2018 and a large majority of member states endorsed this vision in June 2019. According to the Eurobarometer, 92% of Europeans supported making the EU climate-neutral by 2050. Under the Paris Agreement, all parties have to present a long-term strategy by 2020.


The EU continues to deliver on its commitments:

The EU has the most comprehensive and ambitious legislative framework on climate action in place and it is successfully transitioning towards a low emissions economy, aiming at climate neutrality by 2050 – between 1990 and 2017 its greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 23% while the economy grew by 58%.

The EU has already over-achieved its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target and has completed its unique binding legislative framework that will allow us to over-deliver on our climate targets for 2030. At the same time, the EU Adaptation Strategy has encouraged national, regional and local adaptation action since 2013.

Conscious that our emissions make up only around 9% of the global total, the EU is continuing its outreach and cooperation, financial and technical, to all partner countries. The EU remains the world’s leading donor of development assistance and the world’s biggest climate finance donor. Providing over 40% of the world’s public climate finance, the EU and its Member States’ contributions have more than doubled since 2013, exceeding EUR 20 billion annually.

Strong support from citizens

Ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, the Commission carried out a special Eurobarometer on climate action and energy, which shows that in all EU Member States, citizens overwhelmingly support action taken to fight climate change, and want the EU and national leaders to increase their ambitions in this regard and strengthen Europe’s energy security.

The Eurobarometer shows that 93% of Europeans believe that climate change is a ‘serious problem’, and 79% see it as a ‘very serious problem’. Compared with the last Eurobarometer in 2017, climate change has overtaken international terrorism in being perceived as the second most serious problem facing the world today, after poverty, hunger and lack of drinking water.

The proportion of European citizens who have taken personal action to fight climate change has increased in all EU Member States to an EU wide average of more than nine in ten citizens (93%). The Eurobarometer results also show a demand for national governments to step up their own targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy (92%), and to give more public funding to renewable energy (84%). A strong majority of Europeans (72%) feel that reducing energy imports will have a positive impact on the economy and energy security, and 92% believe that EU must secure access to energy for all EU citizens.

Continue Reading


5 takeaways from the 2018 Africa Investment Forum




“We want investments in Africa to land on a smooth investment runway. No bumps,”  – Akinwumi  A. Adesina, President, African Development Bank, at the 2018 Africa Investment Forum.

When Adesina laid out his vision to “tilt the flow” of capital towards Africa’s critical sectors through the Africa Investment Forum, the notion of convening a purely transaction-based forum, seemed more of an aspiration than a reality.

One year down the road, the verdict is undisputed: Africa’s investment opportunities are attracting investments in a big way, as highlighted by the five outcomes below.

1. The Africa Investment Forum platform offers a solid pathway for investments in the continent

The inaugural Africa Investment Forum “Market Days” secured record levels of investment interest in deals worth billions of dollars in just under 72 hours.

63 projects valued at $46.9 billion from 24 countries and across 7 sectors were discussed during closed boardroom sessions involving investors, project sponsors and government representatives. Investment interest was secured for 49 projects worth $38.7 billion.

A further $51.2 billion worth of deals were featured in the Africa Investment Forum Marketplace Project Gallery (a showcase of key projects for investors, but not discussed during boardroom sessions).

2. Multilateral partners delivering as one

Africa’s economic transformation is being achieved through collaborative leadership and strategic partnerships. Beyond the African Development Bank,  the Forum’s founding partners include: Africa 50, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), African Export Import Bank (AfreximBank), Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), European Investment Bank (EIB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and Trade and Development Bank (TDB).

Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), multilaterals and global investors are keen to work together in ways never done before. This was demonstrated in the US$800 million deal agreement signed between Africa50, African Development Bank and the Governments of Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. This project which seeks to develop and finance the first road-rail bridge linking the two capital cities – Kinshasa and Brazzaville, was chaired in the Boardroom by Africa50.

3. Key multi-billion dollar signings

4. The Africa Investment Forum’s convening power

The Africa Investment Forum has positioned itself as an honest broker between governments and private sector stakeholders including project sponsors, investors and transaction facilitators.

A much heralded feature of the inaugural Africa Investment Forum “Market Days” was the presence of seven African Heads of State, who reiterated their commitment to providing an enabling environment for investors, with some of them further participating in several boardroom sessions of their respective countries.

The Lusophone development finance compact signed between the African Development Bank, the Government of Portugal and six Portuguese speaking countries of Africa (PALOPs) is another strong demonstration of the Forum’s convening power. A pipeline of private sector and private-public partnership (PPP) projects in excess of US5 billion have been identified in these countries.

5. The Africa Investment Forum’s Digital Platform

Following the 2018 edition, the African Investment Forum has launched a new digital platform,  to connect investors with investment opportunities in Africa, and vastly improve the quality of project information and documentation.

The Platform, as it is known, provides a live database of private/PPP projects and a repository of information on investors and technical assistance providers on the continent. The Platform currently hosts a community of over 500 users and 110 companies with more than 30% outside of Africa.

Looking ahead

The Africa Investment Forum is dedicated to advancing projects throughout Africa to bankable stages, raising capital, and accelerating the financial closure of deals.

Preparations for the 2019 edition are well underway. Roadshows have been held across the continent and further roadshows are scheduled for investors in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

The Africa Investment Forum, Africa’s Investment Marketplace is a game changer, and promises to provide the continent’s finest opportunity for accelerated economic transformation.

The 2019 Market Days will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 11 to 13 November 2019.

Continue Reading



Copyright © 2019 Modern Diplomacy