One of my key frustrations in launching new business ventures in Africa or helping African nations develop foreign direct investment initiatives is having insufficient or inaccurate information when making key business decisions. One of the benefits of the Internet is having easy access to essential information that facilitates the ability to conduct business effectively and transparently. On July 9, 2009, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the African Union Commission announced the launching of a new tool, the Investment Monitoring Platform, designed in partnership with the Microsoft Corporation, that will map investment flows in Africa and offer investors more information for analysis and decision making.
According to UNIDO's press release, "The new Investment Monitoring Platform will provide data and information on the characteristics of foreign and domestic investors, as well as their motivations, actions, perceptions, intentions, and impact." UNIDO further explains, "The data on the platform will be supplied through bi-annual surveys of both foreign and domestic investors conducted in more than 20 African countries by UNIDO." With the goal of covering 22 countries by the end of October, the first surveys will commence on July 23, 2009 in Kenya and Senegal.
In addition to being supported by the African Union Commission, says UNIDO, the Investment Monitoring Platform is "financed by the European Union Commission, the Governments of Austria, Italy, Turkey and South Africa. It is the result of the collaboration between UNIDO and the Investment Promotion Agencies Network (AfrIPANet), established in 2001 and currently comprising more than 40 members throughout Africa. One of its objective is to promote partnerships among investment promotion and industrial development stakeholders at the national and regional levels."
In expressing his support for this innovative initiative, UNIDO Director-General, Kandeh K. Yumkella said, "The information gathered will also allow for a better understanding of the impact of the global financial crisis on investment flows in Africa. It will help Government and national agencies design more effective investment and business policies, promotion strategies and services that respond to investor needs, and formulate viable industrialization strategies for the continent."
There are great investment opportunities throughout Africa, but corruption and the lack of transactional transparency are key barriers that force investors to look at other markets. I hope the Investment Monitoring Platform will deliver the results intended to assist investors in making sound business decisions.