The private sector in the Eastern and Southern Africa region is set for a major 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).
Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya and AMSCO Regional Manager Abraham Lanor in Lusaka, Zambia, the latter committed to providing training programmes to strengthen project support for private sector development in the COMESA member states.
According to a statement released by COMESA here Friday, AMSCO will design and implement the Private Sector Development (PSD) and poverty reduction programmes on a sectoral or thematic basis.
The aim is to complement the existing PSD Programmes of COMESA and will be done in collaboration with existing Country PSD initiatives and interested donors.
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.
Lanor said AMSCO was pleased to sign the agreement with COMESA, as it provides a platform for it to support economic development in Africa through the private sector.
“We have been waiting for this opportunity for some time,” said Lanor. “This agreement now makes it possible for us to get close to Regional Economic Communities that have the mandate to promote regional integration through private sector-driven development economic development.”
The ATMS funding will be provided to qualifying beneficiary enterprises and impact initiatives with priority to small enterprises (less than US$3 million in revenue and less than US$3 million in Gross Assets); medium enterprises (US$3 million to US$15 million in revenue and Gross Assets); and African-owned enterprises and National and Regional Private sector member associations.
“There is an apparent lack of skills among entrepreneurs in SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and this has adversely affected the achievement of the standards that the market requires,” Ngwenya said.
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 and Public Private Partnerships initiatives.