2001 was a highly eventful year for the CDE. It has had to adapt to the new mandate the institution has inherited from the Cotonou Agreement whilst pressing on with
its time-honoured activities focused on developing the private sector in the ACP states.
The achievements described in this report offer ample proof that the Centre's teams have managed to bring these two tasks to a successful conclusion.
There has been an upturn in the number of operations and companies offered support. At the same time, the Centre has been putting the finishing touches to its new strategic policy plan which is designed to upgrade its approach to the private sector, whilst continuing to improve the local services that are its speciality in our countries.
It has also been streamlining its system of management.
Against the background of the bleak outlook across the globe, particularly in the wake
of the tragic events of 11 September, our companies are still suffering from the implications of the world economic slowdown. Moreover, they are faring worse than businesses in other regions. Hence the key importance of the continuing multi-faceted support provided to them by the CDE. This applies in particular to factors that can help these undertakings to become better organised, improve their expertise and training and offer access to new information technologies that help reduce distance and time-related constraints. This support is more than ever a guarantee of their longevity and their long-term development.
Our private sector is also eagerly awaiting the imminent launch of the PRO€INVEST programme, whose complementary relationships and synergies with the CDE offer intermediary structures a further opportunity to cater more effectively for the demands of our companies. The actual launch of this programme also strikes me as being a unique opportunity to revive the much-needed dialogue between the private sector and the political and administrative authorities. Such a dialogue is of vital importance for creating the confidence needed to attract investment and promote development.
Poverty has become one of the biggest threats this century, so the issue has to be dealt with more urgently than ever before. And it is of pressing importance that the range
of initiatives designed to create sustainable development should be able to count on the support they need to help stop this threat.
Thanks to its position, as a link in the chain of support provided to the private sector under ACP-EU cooperation, the CDE is one of the most highly prized agents for development in the ACP countries. It has acted as a partner to our business sectors for a quarter of a century, operating on a local basis with a pragmatic attitude, and has managed to stay the course. Let us hope that the year 2002, which coincides with the Centre's 25th anniversary, will mark a new departure for the institution and its staff, for the benefit of our countries.