Djibouti South-South Development Exchange Roundtable
The Government of Djibouti recognized the need for a diversified path to economic and social growth that encompassed combatting poverty and enabling a dynamic private sector. Toward this goal it developed its long-term growth strategy, “Djibouti Vision 2035”, and engaged in a knowledge exchange with Cape Verde, Dubai, and Mauritius. The knowledge-providing countries shared how specific strategies in significant yet under-exploited sectors could help contribute to overall economic and social development.
The Government of Djibouti had developed its long-term growth strategy called “Djibouti Vision 2035”, recognizing the need for a diversified path to economic and social growth that would include multiple sectors and stakeholders and specifically target combatting poverty and enabling a dynamic private sector. Five under-exploited sectors of the economy – transportation and logistics, telecommunications, tourism, fisheries, and light industry – were identified as opportunities that could be seized upon to achieve aid in the desired growth. The progress made by the Government of Djibouti to enact its Vision 2035 has been positive. However, the Government also recognized its lack of policy instruments, knowledge, and expertise needed to develop specific plans in the five under-exploited sectors that would contribute to the Vision’s ability to eliminate poverty and enable the desired dynamic private sector.
The Government of Djibouti requested World Bank assistance in arranging a knowledge exchange with Cape Verde, Dubai, and Mauritius to learn from their successes in developing sectoral plans and growth strategies that have contributed to poverty reduction and private sector growth in their respective countries.
Participating in the exchange from Djibouti were representatives from government, development organizations, the private sector, civil society, and academia. From Cape Verde, Dubai, and Mauritius, policy-makers and private sector professionals provided expertise for the exchange, which was held June 20-23, 2014 in Djibouti, and consisted of the following activities:
- Field visits. Field visits were arranged for the participating delegation from the knowledge-providing countries. Participants visited major infrastructure sites such as the new port of Tadjourah, the container terminal Doraleh, and the Djibouti Telecom station.
- Expert speakers. On the second day of the exchange, experts from the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Djibouti spoke about the current state of the economy of Djibouti. The Prime Minister, on behalf of the Head of State, also delivered a speech and officially launched Djibouti Vision 2035. Other speakers included representatives for each of the knowledge-providing countries who highlighted their experiences in conducting structural reforms to promote economic development in their countries as well as representatives of the Chamber of Commerce of Djibouti, who spoke of the challenges and opportunities facing the private sector.
- Inter-active roundtable discussion. The third day of the exchange was dedicated to a series of interactive roundtable discussions that covered four main themes: (i) the private sector as engine of growth, (ii) tourism development, (iii) regional integration through the service industry, and (iv) economic growth and poverty reduction.
- Presentation of recommendations. The final activity of the exchange was the presentation of recommendations that emerged from the roundtable discussions.
- Raised awareness on the importance of coordination between the public and private sectors in the identification of obstacles to economic and social development. For example, Djibouti was able to learn about Mauritius’ Joint Economic Council, which is a formal mechanism established to provide the public and private sectors with a platform for effectively and officially communicating and developing joint priorities. Such mechanisms have helped to enable the private sector to take root and become a driver of development and growth in Mauritius while ensuring that governmental priorities are a part of that growth.
- Increased knowledge on the importance of integrating governance into development strategies. The role of the public sector in improving financial services and facilitating small and medium-size enterprise access to compete in the public procurement market were recognized as key principles of growth.
- Called attention to the potential of Djibouti as a logistical platform for both the transport and telecommunications sectors and as a possible tourist destination. This potential was highlighted by the field visits to Djibouti’s facilities and where visiting experts were able offer their expertise on current and future possibilities of its infrastructure.
- Ensure that formalized follow-up activities are identified and defined to better assess how the knowledge-receiving country is utilizing the knowledge gained from the exchange.
- This exchange was different from typical South-South exchanges in that the knowledge providers travelled to the knowledge-recipient country rather than the reverse. Travel to recipient countries allows knowledge providers first-hand observation of the challenges and opportunities that exist in the recipient country and also allows them to share their expertise (based on what they have seen and know) to a wider audience through workshops, roundtable discussions, and other speaking opportunities in the recipient country.
The South-South Knowledge Exchange Facility financed the exchange. In addition to this support, the Bank team also worked closely with the Government of Djibouti to organize the exchange events.
Providing knowledge during this exchange were representatives of the public and private sectors of three countries – Cape Verde, Dubai, and Mauritius.
As Djibouti moves toward realizing its Vision 2035 and establishing five-year plans in growth area sectors, it has already begun to implement some of the recommendations from this exchange. A good practice note and a video of the exchange were both disseminated in English and French thus spreading the lessons from the event across a wider audience. Additionally, several of the recommendations of the interactive dialogues have begun to take shape: reforms have been enacted to consolidate fiscal policies and clarify the opacity of the fiscal system; and a guarantee fund has been established to support small and medium-size enterprises.
Participants from Djibouti included government officials, private sector participants, and representatives of civil society. Government officials were those responsible for the various sectoral portfolios, including energy, agriculture, telecommunications, finance, justice, tourism, education, and more.
This conference allowed me to expend my knowledge…especially on the extent to which sectoral reforms will have a positive impact on development…” – Program participant
“This experience has shown that there is no miracle in development. We need leadership and a clear decision in execution of public policies.” – Program participant