On Friday afternoon a hundred students and staff from VHL University of Applied Sciences in Wageningen had a conversation with Mr. Robert Dijksterhuis from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland).
Mr. Dijksterhuis gave a bird's eye view of current Dutch policy priorities and the mission of his new agency in promoting inclusive growth. Mr. Dijksterhuis pointed to the shift in development financing from aid to trade related instruments. Though the total budget was severely reduced, the trade related instruments budgets increased. This change was very critically received in parliament and one political party(ChristenUnie) successfully rallied to reallocate 50 million of the fund back to development funding.
It is clear that Europe is but one player in the global landscape with regard to investment in Africa, and a relatively small one. And quite often Asian countries are easier to do business with as they are more upfront about their real interest.
After the break the real conversation started with perspectives of students from a.o. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nigeria, Germany and the Netherlands, some questioning the new approach but the majority supporting it. The conversation could be followed by people through livestream of wurTV. The following discussion topics structured the dialogue:
Under what conditions can Foreign Direct Investment contribute to inclusive Private Sector Development?
What are the dilemma’s faced by the Dutch government in combining Aid & Trade in one Ministry?
How can traditional development actors become more entrepreneurial?
Dutch Good Growth Fund The Netherlands Enterprise Agency will administer three types of funding for private sector development. It will provide finance to Dutch small and medium enterprises that wish to invest in developing countries. It provides finance to SMEs from developing countries. And it will provide insurance coverage for companies wanting to export to developing countries.