The Awakening of the Private Sector in Guinea-Bissau

November 11, 2022

Women working in agriculture in Guinea-Bissau

UNDP Guinea-Bissau/Elena Touriño Lorenzo

The Government of Guinea-Bissau and the Embassies of South Africa, Cape Verde, and Nigeria, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), are jointly organising and hosting the inaugural edition of the Bissau Rising Investment and Trade Forum. This public forum notes that even if Guinea-Bissau is a small and relatively untapped West African market, the country has unlimited potential for innovative and sustainable growth and is open for business. 

During the presentation of the event, which will take place from 30 November to 4 December in Bissau, UNDP Resident Representative Tjark Egenhoff stressed that "the time has come, and it has come for Guinea-Bissau to change an image that we must draw in a realistic way, but which is an image with pinpricks of hope and a look at the opportunities that exist. And all this is only possible with the Bissau Guineans. The dynamics of the event will be based on the meeting between investors and entrepreneurs of the four countries involved in the initiative, to create opportunities through cooperation, to foster innovation and to generate new values. "It is intended to establish a solid base for the development of business and partnerships between entrepreneurs from these countries [South Africa, Cape Verde and Nigeria] and our country," explains José Carlos Varela Casimiro, Minister of Economy, Planning and Regional Integration. "The Forum is a great opportunity to present our economic potential as well as our main priorities, contained in the National Development Plan." 

Press conference for the presentation of the Bissau Rising Investment Forum

UNDP Guinea-Bissau

Digital economy and infrastructure, energy and waste management, blue economy and tourism, finance, banking and insurance, creative industry, logistics and transport, and agriculture, water and sanitation are the key sectors that can act as catalysts for positive change in Guinea-Bissau. One such change will be the joint building of an open platform for business leaders, policy makers and influencers from Africa and beyond to serve as a foundation for business development and sustainable growth. For Noa Noel Lehoko, South Africa's Ambassador to Guinea-Bissau, this "very important event that comes at the right time" is a key start to testing commitment to an African agenda. "We need to promote more inter-African trade through the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement." His Cape Verdean counterpart, Camilo Leitão da Graça, appealed to the historical, cultural, and linguistic proximity between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. "Strength often does not lie in the size of the country, but it comes from the soul, the dynamism, and that is what we try to contribute to." 

"This is not just an event, but a process of accompaniment by Guinea-Bissau's friendly institutions to create a business climate that is favourable to both domestic and regional investment, to create jobs and prospects and to also create the stability that the country needs," the UNDP Resident Representative pointed out in his speech. The creation together with national partners of Guinea-Bissau's first innovation centre, which will be ready to start working before the end of the year, will provide continuity and support to a process that does not end on 4 December. "We want to maintain the connection with the relevant ministries of the three countries and other countries in Africa to continue with the dialogue. Also, with the private sector and the government of Guinea-Bissau to analyse the elements that have not been conducive to private investment in the past and be able to move to another level of discussions here a year from now," concludes Egenhoff. 

Woman working on solar salt production in Guinea-Bissau

UNDP Guinea-Bissau/Elena Touriño Lorenzo

The Industrial Association of Guinea-Bissau (AIGB), the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Services (CCIAS), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and private sector representatives such as telecommunications company MTN are also partners of Bissau Rising.