Programs in Africa

Uneven economic and political freedom across sub-Saharan Africa speaks to the region’s diversity. Many countries are experiencing an economic upswing, but slow democratic development threatens greater and sustained growth and improved quality of life for Africa’s citizens.In other countries, existing democratic institutions are threatened by economic uncertainty.

CIPE has worked with the private sector (especially micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises) in Africa over the last 30 years through business associations, think tanks, women’s organizations, and youth-centered programs. These partners work with CIPE to strengthen democracy by engaging governments on transparency, the business-enabling environment, accountability, the rule of law, and initiatives to combat corruption.

Through dialogue, collective action, and collaboration with government and civil society, the private sector is helping to build the institutions that will allow democracy to flourish.

Ethiopia: An Innovative Program Driving Governance Reform

CIPE works with chambers of commerce and sectoral associations around Ethiopia to help the country’s private sector participate in democratic and economic policy reform, through using public-private dialogue platforms with the government at the national, regional, and city level. CIPE also helps build the institutional capacity, sustainability, and management skills of Ethiopia’s business associations

CIPE has worked with more than 50 membership-based organizations in Ethiopia, starting in Oromia and Tigray regions and expanding into South Region, Amhara, and Harar. Recently, CIPE began work in the four remaining regions of the country: Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela, and Somali to help chambers of commerce, business associations, and women’s entrepreneurship associations build their capacity to organize and advocate. CIPE also works at the national level to provide sustainable long-term business association management training via the Ethiopian Chamber Academy.

With CIPE support, chambers of commerce and other regional-level bodies have begun to undertake coalition building to address key priority issues with their regional government.

Nigeria: Improving the Business Environment through Collective Action Initiatives

In Nigeria, CIPE works with seven state-level coalitions of 150 business and professional associations in Enugu, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, and Niger states. CIPE supports their efforts to advocate specific reforms that will improve the business environment and make public officials more accountable. Through training, technical assistance, and grants, CIPE has helped these coalitions to strengthen the voice of the private sector on key issues using election debates, public campaigns, and public-private collaborations. Most recently, CIPE supported the development of an eighth coalition representing women in business from across the country. This support has built the capacity of the private sector to collectively advocate policy and regulatory reform and has strengthened the democratic process by boosting private sector participation in governance.

CIPE takes a long-term approach to building sustainable private sector coalitions in Nigeria. First, CIPE identifies a network of relevant state-level business and professional organizations and builds their capacity through workshops and technical assistance. Next, CIPE supports key coalition activities and informs relevant members of the public sector and the media on the role of business in a democratic society. Finally, CIPE provides advanced training and support to coalitions focusing on sustainability and internal governance, and provides financial and technical support to take on larger and more complex advocacy initiatives. The ultimate goal is to help the eight coalitions become the institutionalized collective voice for the private sector in their respective jurisdictions.

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