Sustainable Business for Africa (SB4A): a platform for improving the investment climate through dialogue between governments, businesses and civil society
Having a skilled workforce gives a major boost to a country’s investment climate. Through its External Investment Plan (EIP), the European Union is supporting initiatives to develop and improve of vocational education. In Côte d'Ivoire, dialogue between local businesses, chambers of commerce and vocational training experts has honed vocational training to employers’ needs.
The EU is committed to leveraging more funds for development and creating sustainable and decent jobs, particularly in Africa and countries in the EU neighbourhood. That is why it created the External Investment Plan (EIP), launched in 2017. The EIP promotes private investment that can spur long-term economic growth and create jobs.
The EIP works in three ways:
• First, a fund provides financial guarantees and grants to lower the risk of investing in partner countries.
• Second, expertise and technical assistance is available to help get projects off the ground.
• Third, it supports improvements in the investment climate in partner countries, so they can attract more investment and make doing business easier, while addressing the structural needs of the economy.
To underpin these efforts, the Sustainable Business for Africa (SB4A) platform was created at the sixth EU-Africa Business Forum, held in Abidjan in November 2017.
SB4A establishes a process to enhance systematic public-private dialogue aimed at addressing the challenges that businesses and investors face. Facilitated by EU delegations and in collaboration with governments, SB4A promotes and prioritises business environment reforms, to help economies develop sustainably and create decent jobs, especially for young people and women.
SB4A explores ways to adapt vocational training schemes so they equip people with the skills employers need. It also foresees addressing informality and how to improve conditions for unregistered businesses, especially in fragile environments.
An SB4A example: Making vocational training relevant to real jobs in Côte d’Ivoire
The EU-funded PROFORME project, implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), improves vocational training and youth employability in Côte d’Ivoire. In that country, 43% of young people are unemployed, and less than 10% of secondary students have vocational training.
PROFORME brings local authorities and the private sector together to hone vocational training to employers’ needs. The project adapts training courses to the requirements expressed by employers. It also creates regular opportunities for dialogue between local businesses and vocational training centres. Workshops regularly gather local businesses, chambers of commerce and vocational training experts from the public sector.
To date, PROFORME vocational training has covered more than 50 job areas, and some 7,500 persons have benefited from training. The project is further working to improve the regulatory environment for vocational training.
Sustainable Business for Africa Platform