|The need to address Africa’s challenges and opportunities for promoting growth and poverty reduction is urgent. The competitiveness of the private sector needs to be enhanced substantially. Africa should focus on attracting capital for investment, it is argued. However, the latter somehow requires a good investment climate. Even without existing competitive advantage there must be convincing scenarios and strategies for competitive business operations. The onus is not only on the private sector to work at this. The government has a crucial role to play, especially in developing holistic national strategies for enhancing competitiveness. Important challenges are how to involve other stakeholders and not only address the macro level, but consider the complex links and interstices between national frameworks, regional/sector industry development, and efforts to improve competitiveness at the enterprise level.
The question is whether we have the tools and concepts necessary to formulate sustainable strategies for increased competitiveness, and whether there is the capacity and commitment to implement them. There is the need to measure up to global standards, but also to acknowledge different business systems and take local terms and perspectives into consideration. The panel will address these issues on the basis of discussion of particular research and development initiatives. Studies on productivity growth, industrial clusters, public private partnership, entrepreneurship, innovation, and private sector development are invited. Presentations on applied research utilising multi-disciplinary methods and perspectives are encouraged, but other contributions are also warmly welcome for consideration.