At a regional meeting held on 4 May in Midrand, South Africa, the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) unanimously endorsed a proposal by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) to establish a WAIPA African Chapter in order to strengthen regional activities. Tabling the proposal on behalf of UIA, Angela Katama advocated the introduction of a system whereby the exchange of data on transnational corporations (TNCs) could be facilitated among Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), and the publication of an IPA news magazine for Africa. She also suggested that periodical regional training workshops be set up for investment promotion officers from African IPAs, and the organization of regional or sub-regional investment promotion fairs. Those ideas received strong support from other African IPAs and were consequently endorsed by WAIPA.
The WAIPA meeting, which was chaired by Nathaniel Apotsi, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, brought together senior representatives of IPAs from 30 African countries, along with top African government officials, African and international business executives, and representatives from intergovernmental organisations and NGOs. Held in the context of Africa Connect, the conference focussed on "best practices" in investment promotion in Africa and investment incentive regimes in African countries, subjects which provoked lively debates between the business community on the one hand and the IPAs, other government and intergovernmental institutions, on the other. Africa Connect was organized by UNCTAD in cooperation with the South African Council of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) as a parallel event to the UNCTAD IX intergovernmental conference.
Páid McMenamin, Managing Director of International Development Ireland and Chairman of the WAIPA Working Group, announced that over 65 countries had become WAIPA members, including African IPAs from Cameroon, Côte d´Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, Zanzibar (United Republic of Tanzania) and Zimbabwe, as well as IPAs from 17 countries from Asia and the Pacific, 12 from Central and Eastern Europe, 14 from Latin America and the Caribbean and 9 from Western Europe.
Mr. McMenamin presented an up-date on WAIPA activities and informed the African IPA representatives on the progress which WAIPA has made since its founding meeting, held under UNCTAD auspices in April 1995. He reported on the finalization of the WAIPA Statute at a Working Group Meeting in Manila, the new WAIPA newsletter ProInvest which was launched in November 1995, and the support that the Philippines´ Board of Investments has pledged to WAIPA activities in Asia. He also reported on UNCTAD´s and UNIDO´s continuing assistance to WAIPA and indicated that the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) had officially been requested to become a WAIPA support agency.