CDE's mandate, initially derived from the Lomé Convention and then broadened under the Cotonou Agreement (Annex III), positions the Centre as a joint ACP-EU institution dedicated to support private sector development in ACP countries.

The Center provides non-financial services (consultancy, technical assistance, studies, training) to ACP companies, especially SMEs and intermediary organisations (chambers of commerce, professional associations, business services providers, etc.), and to joint initiatives of ACP and EU economic operators. According to its Strategy, the economic sectors of focus are: agroindustry, aquaculture, green energy, ecotourism and ICTs.

CDE's objectives are the following :

  1. increase ACP private enterprises' competitiveness, thus facilitating their access to markets and finance;
  2. facilitate ACP-EU business partnerships;
  3. develop business support services in ACP (capacity building of private sector organisations and providers of technical, professional, management, commercial and training services);
  4. assist investment promotion activities and organisations;
  5. support initiatives linked to innovation, transfer of technology and know-how, and promotion of best practices in business management;
  6. inform the ACP private sector about the provisions of the Cotonou Agreement;
  7. provide information to EU companies and private sector organisations on business opportunities and modalities in ACP countries.

The CDE also contributes to the improvement of the business environment, with a view to support enterprises taking advantage of regional integration and trade, by:

  1. disseminating information about product quality and standards; 
  2. assisting enterprises in meeting quality standards;
  3. promoting regional and national business environment reforms, including by facilitating the dialogue between private sectors and public institutions; and
  4. strengthening national and/or regional service-providing intermediaries.