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Switzerland, African Development Bank Group collaborates to create opportunities for the Swiss private sector across Africa

The Swiss private sector would like to play a more substantial role in the African Development Bank’s operations in Africa. This desire was expressed during meeting between Bank senior management and the Swiss economic mission, spearheaded by Ivo Germann, Director of Foreign Economic Affairs at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The Swiss delegation was received by Swazi Tshabala, the Bank’s Senior Vice-President, Kevin Kariuki, Vice-President in charge of Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, Vice-President for the Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Complex, and several Bank directors. Anne Lugon-Moulin, the Swiss ambassador and head of mission in Côte d’Ivoire, also attended.

Senior Vice-President Tshabala stated that Switzerland is one of the African Development Bank’s preferred partners. “There is a great deal of convergence between our priorities and yours. At a time when we have just launched our new ten-year strategy, which aims to address the various challenges facing Africa, we have concerns about the reform of the international financial architecture, climate change, and the employment of women and young people on the continent who are looking for a better future. The Bank has a rather special position in Africa.”

Germann explained that “Swiss companies are interested in finding out how they can benefit from the convergence of objectives in certain sectors in Africa. They wish to take part in the Bank’s efforts and can contribute high-quality expertise.” The economic mission that includes some 15 business leaders is touring Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, he said.

Germann hailed the Bank as a preferred partner able to offer opportunities to Swiss companies and spoke of major challenges such as industrialization.  He also expressed concerns about the importance of the informal sector and transparency, among other issues.

Frank Mvula, Director of the Bank’s Fiduciary and Inspection Department outlined the principles of the Bank’s procurement of funds and eligibility conditions. “The Bank’s procedures are based on the principles of transparency, public tendering and competition, with specific systems for different types of contracts,” he said. “All information on opportunities is published and accessible.”

Michael Rheinegger of the Swiss-African Business Circle, the leading independent organisation promoting business contacts and links between Switzerland and Africa, spoke on behalf of members of the private sector, expressing the desire to “have the right contacts in the Bank for more focused and in-depth discussions.”

Vice-President Kariuki, whose remit covers Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth, presented the continent’s enormous energy potential, renewable energies and opportunities for interconnections between the countries. He invited Swiss companies to explore opportunities in those areas, which are crucial to the continent’s future.

Vice-President Akin-Olugbade said that in its ten-year strategy, the Bank emphasises private sector participation as a contributor to development projects. “The system used by the Bank’s Board of Directors to approve projects is based on extensive documentation, including feasibility studies carried out at country level.” 

Luciano Ferreira, Head of Procurement and Contracts at AquaSwiss, a company specialising in desalination and water treatment, asked about opportunities in this area.

Aida Ngom, Director of the Private Sector Development Department, responded with the example of the Kigali Bulk Water Supply Project, the first large-scale independent water production project in Rwanda, under the public-private partnership model between the Government of Rwanda and Kigali Water Limited.

Akin-Olugbade encouraged Swiss companies to develop joint ventures with national companies to gain greater visibility.

Germann was officially supported by Adam Baha, SECO Advisor for Africa and the Middle East, and Felix Wanner, Deputy Regional Coordinator, West and Central Africa, Africa Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The 15 or so Swiss business representatives attending the meeting carefully noted the guidance from Bank officials.

The delegation was also asked to participate in the Africa Investment Forum, the continent’s investment marketplace bringing bankable projects and investors together.

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