The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and the Government of Benin, through its Ministry of Planning and Development will convene the first of three sub-regional South-South and triangular cooperation capacity building workshops in Cotonou, Benin. The workshop will take place from 21-23 February, 2017.
The objective of the first day of this workshop is for West African countries to exchange their experiences and knowledge on institutional and programme management of South-South and triangular cooperation with countries and inter-governmental institutions from outside Africa. The second and third days will be dedicated to the discussions among African countries toward developing an action plan for follow up that UNOSSC can support.
The workshop highlights the intention of UNOSSC to scale up its engagement with Africa and to support the agenda of African Countries. The invitation to the workshop was extended to all West African countries, through UNDP Country Offices and UNOSSC databases of national South-South focal points. In addition to West African countries, Kenya will participate as the country has stepped forward to convene the East African Workshop in May 2017. A Southern African workshop to follow is in the planning stages.
The countries that were invited and have agreed to participate include: Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal and Togo. The following resource countries will also share knowledge and experiences on institutional and programme management of South-South and triangular cooperation: Bangladesh, Brazil, Costa Rica Mexico and Thailand.
Hon. Mr. Abdoulaye Tchane, Minister of State for Planning and Development of the Republic of Benin, opened the workshop. Over 200 people, most of them from government departments and academia, attended its opening session.
During deliberations on first day of the workshop, the role of public private partnerships in development emerged as a strong focus from several presenters.
Benin kicked the ball off noting that most of its identified projects are funded by the private sector. Benin highlighted the general development spirit that embraces public private partnerships, noting that even Ambassadors are now development agents – searching and gathering good practices and experiences. In that regard, the representative of Benin’s Ministry of Planning emphasized that safeguarding investment is a key component of development cooperation.
The representative of Thailand indicated that 61 percent of investments in development action plans are by the private sector.
Bangladesh noted that 40 public services are currently run by entrepreneurs under their public service innovation programme.
Colombia also indicated their focus on micro public private partnerships.
Participants debated issues of trust between the public and private sectors. “The private sector fears that the public sector is inept or corrupt, and the public sector fears the private sector because of its profit motive,” noted one panelist. Despite this, it was clear that many of the governments in developing countries are taking a fresh look at the private sector as a development partner and ally in reinforcing development of communities.