The government of the Netherlands and the International Trade Centre (ITC) on Monday signed a four-year partnership agreement to support innovative projects to enhance the trade competitiveness of the services sectors in selected African countries, focusing on digital technology and agribusiness services.
A statement by ITC noted that the partnership, called the Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V), will contribute to the “structural transformation in agribusiness and related value chains, it will support thousands of small businesses and tens of thousands of jobs, thereby creating entrepreneurial opportunities for women, youth and poor communities.
NTF V, with $15 million from the Netherlands, was signed by Steven Collet, Director for Sustainable Economic Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Pamela Coke-Hamilton, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre.
Through efficient agribusiness and support services, NTF V is expected to contribute to increased trade, better incomes, and help reduce poverty.
“The pandemic has shown us the importance of digitalization – and of the resilience of global and local value chains. With NTF V, we will be able to increase our focus on using innovative digital solutions to make value chains more resilient and to support small businesses operating within these value chains. With the generous support of the Netherlands, we will support countries that have been severely hit by the ongoing Covid-related crisis. NTF V will allow us to contribute to building back better and to support sustainable inclusive development where it matters most,” said Coke-Hamilton.
Collet underlined the importance of the renewed partnership, which builds on a collaboration between the Netherlands and ITC.
‘We have a long-standing, trusted and productive relationship with ITC. The last fifteen years of successive NTF programmes have delivered meaningful change, thanks to partnerships with Dutch development actors,” Collet explained. “In the next phase of our partnership we need to up our game and enhance competitiveness of SMEs in African countries, focusing on digital technology and agribusiness services and the link between the two.”
The NTF V programme builds on the results achieved under the NTF IV programme (2017-2021), supported more than 8,000 jobs at beneficiary companies and generated over $60 million in revenue in Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
According to the statement, over 1,600 small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs made changes to their business operations to enhance competitiveness, and more than 1,200 market linkages were created.
The ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).