I and the other members of the Board are satisfied with the work done by the Centre during the year. We took a number of decisions of fundamental importance to its future, and the staff responded by taking the necessary action.
The Board welcomes the Centre’s implementation, in accordance with the guidelines it had laid down, of its new strategy for supporting the ACP private sector, a vital contributor to economic and social development in those countries.
It also appreciates the work already done or in progress on the enormous task of modernizing, simplifying, decentralizing and improving the Centre’s various procedures.
The programme-based sectoral and regional approach has enabled the Centre, with an equivalent budget, to reach a larger number of enterprises across a wider spectrum, evidence of improved efficiency in the use of public funds. The Board approves of the way in which, while pursuing its programme-based approach, the CDE is still lending support to individual ACP enterprises not included in its programmes, so that its services remain available to all components of the private sector.
There is however one matter on which I have to express disappointment, and that is the Centre’s lack of the resources it would need to meet the growing demand reaching it from the field. The CDE already has projects corresponding to almost 40% of its annual budget in the pipeline for 2005. This is a real problem that the Board is going to have to address.
It is one thing to have a sufficient budget, another to spend it effectively. Hence the Board’s call on the CDE to press ahead with the compilation of a set of indicators to measure the impact of its operations on enterprises and their environment. We have already examined satisfaction rating surveys covering two years, and we encourage the Centre to carry on with this exercise. It was for similar reasons that the Board gave its approval to the proposal to commission an independent assessment of the Centre’s activity, to provide pointers to ways in which its performance in carrying out its mission could be improved still further. This process is now under way.
A very considerable achievement during a difficult year has been the virtual completion of the radical reorganization of the Centre called for by the Board, with the result that all members of staff were in their new posts in the new establishment plan by 1 December. Lastly on the subject of reform, the Centre has now reached the end of the ISO 9001 certification procedure, something in which it can take pride. It has not been easy, but dedication and a lot of work have brought the desired result.
These past, current and scheduled improvements are making the CDE a worthwhile partner, increasingly alive to its clients’ concerns. As a result, in our opinion, it is in a good position to claim its place as a key component of the European system of support to the ACP private sector and to take charge of more programmes, bilateral and European, as it is already doing
successfully with PRO€INVEST.
I should not wish to end without thanking the staff and encouraging them to carry on with their efforts to improve their performance, and of course the Director, who reaches the end of his five-year term of office in 2005 and has every reason to be proud of the progress made under his stewardship.
Finally, I must convey the Board’s congratulations and support to the new Director, Hamed Sow, at the start of his term of office.
Audley L.T. Walker