The private sector in Eastern and Southern Africa will have a boost following the signing of a development agreement between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the African Management Services Company (Amsco).
Comesa secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya and Amsco regional manager Abraham Lanor signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Lusaka, Zambia last week under which the latter commits to provide training programmes to support private sector development in the Comesa member States, including Malawi.
The statement said Amsco will design and implement private sector development and poverty reduction programmes on a sectoral basis to complement existing Comesa private sector programmes in collaboration with existing country and donor initiatives.
The 19-member trade bloc noted that Lanor said his organisation was pleased to sign the agreement with Comesa as it provides a platform for his organisation to support economic development in Africa through the private sector.
Ngwenya cited numerous challenges that Comesa faces in the development of the private sector such as lack of support to programmes and projects being undertaken by the various private sectors.
Ngwenya is quoted in the press statement as saying that the private sector needs to get more involved during the tripartite negotiations for the Free Trade Area (FTA).
Under the MoU, the priority beneficiary enterprises shall include the private sector enterprises duly registered to transact business in the member countries, commercially operated state enterprises, national and regional private sector member associations and institutions aiming at ensuring socio-economic development.
Amsco is a special purpose vehicle established by the International Finance Corporation in the Netherlands, to serve as the operational unit of the African Training and Management Services (ATMS) Project. It will recruit and second international experts to strengthen the management and technical capabilities of beneficiary enterprises and apex bodies of the private sector.
The ATMS funding will be provided to qualifying beneficiary enterprises and impact initiatives with priority to small enterprises less than $3 million (K1.05 billion) in revenue and in gross assets, and medium enterprises of $3 million to $15 million(K5.25 billion) in revenue and gross assets.