Wednesday, 21 December 2011


2011 was a unique year for CBC; we started with year with a renewed focus in Infrastructure, particularly Power which is critical for most of the Commonwealth’s countries.

In February we held the first Commonwealth Ministerial Power Summit that build on our work with the Nigerian Government on the Power sector privatisation plans and brought together stakeholders in the Power Sector from India, the Caribbean and Africa.

We have held Country Investment Forum’s in Namibia and Zambia hosted by the respective Heads of Government and Regional Forums focusing on Infrastructure in SADC, EAC and the Caribbean. However the highlight of the year was the Commonwealth Business Forum held in Perth alongside CHOGM. The Forum was the biggest we have ever held, bringing together 16 Heads of Government and 1400 business leaders from 70 countries across the Commonwealth and beyond.

We are proud of what we have achieved over the last year; we have seen considerable investment in Infrastructure particularly power and Transport. Additionally, this year has seen large investments in the Mining sectors of Nigeria, Namibia, and Mozambique. In Oil and Gas, investment into Nigeria, Uganda and Trinidad and Tobago, interestingly there have been high levels of south-south investment in this sector.

The Commonwealth Business Forum alone resulted in nearly $10 billion invested in Africa from Australian Companies. But a true highlight of the year, and a real indication of how much the world has changed over the last decade that CBC has been operating, was introducing a Tanzanian businessman to the Prime Minister of Australia as the latest investor in her countries Mining Industry.

I'll also take the chance to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Thursday, 24 November 2011

India and the UK

India and the UK have a long established partnership that manifests in many ways; the links between our 2 countries are strong and healthy and there is much room to grow.

In 2010, bilateral trade between the UK and India grew by 20%, bringing the total to £13 billion. UK goods exports to India grew by 37% and goods imports from India rose by 27%. However, despite an overall growth in exports from the UK, the country’s comparative position has been slipping. In 2005 the UK was the 5th largest exporter to India, whereas the UK is now the 18th largest exporter. India is the 13th largest export market for the UK, while the UK is India’s 5th largest export market, accounting for 3.6% of all India’s exports. There is a general view that the relationship is under –utilised.

The potential for growth in trade and investment between the UK and India is huge as reflected by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when declaring last year that the 2 countries ‘should aim at the doubling of our bilateral trade turnover in the next five years’. However as the British Prime Minister David Cameron summed it up while in India ‘we cannot rely on sentiment and our shared history’ to make this happen.

1) Firstly, UK companies operating in India

2) Secondly, Indian Companies that use the UK as a base to raise capital and to operate abroad

3) Thirdly, related to the Second point, but Indian companies that operate in Britain, but are fully engaged with the UK’s economy.

Britain in India
British Business has a strong presence in India and has for many years. Many of the UK’s big names are present, Arup, Mott Macdonald, Serco, Amec, JCB and Unilever.

The success of the expanding Indian economy is widely acknowledged by UK investors. The most recent being the set up of ‘India Gas Solutions’ by BP and Reliance Industries in a $7.2billion investment focused on global sourcing and marketing of natural gas in India. This is one of the largest ever foreign investments into India and clearly demonstrates the continuing importance of each country to the other.

As access to India’s services sector grows, I have absolutely no doubt that the UK will jump up the league table of bilateral trade and investment flows almost overnight. The India-EU trade pact that is reportedly to be completed in the New Year should help with this.

India in the UK

Of all the Indian Companies operating in the European Union there are more in the UK than the other 26 EU nations combined. The London Stock exchange is host to 31 listed companies, 20 more than New York, and many more than Singapore and Hong Kong. Most of the Indian companies operating here do so to take advantage of the City of London as a financial Hub, as an access point to Europe and as a Geographical bridge between the East and the West. I hope this will remain the case in the future.

Essar Energy is a good example of a fast growing company that used London in this way; they raised US$2 billion through an initial public offering in May 2010.

I believe that if we want such partnerships between India and the UK to grow and strengthen, then the City of London’s pre-eminence must be protected. With regards to the proposed ‘Tobin Tax’, the UK’s strong stance against it is sensible. If the British Government gives an inch by way of the financial services tax they will lose a mile in international business.

The Second Category of Indian Company operating in the UK are the fully engaged ones – like TATA.

Tata is now the UK’s biggest manufacturer, with almost 40,000 workers. When including Tata's service industries, such as consultancy, the Company is the largest private sector employer in the UK.

This is a Model that can be especially fruitful for both countries. Key to ensuring this is converting the Indian Companies that are in London to take advantage of the City into fully integrated Companies along the Tata Model.

There is also great scope for synergy with high end engineering design and mass marketing. It is what James Dyson did in China, but the only problem is that Dyson products are now made in China without any involvement from Dyson due to weak IP regulation. This would not happen in India.

Tata has demonstrated how profitable working with a pre-existing British firm can be by buying into existing brands. Let the British design and the Indians scale up.

In reality, India and the UK have an existing partnership that will continue to grow slowly on its own, but if we want to turn it into a true 21st Century Partnership it requires a catalytic intervention from Governments and the private sector. The ‘sea change’ that both Governments called for during David Cameron’s visit to India last year will not happen unless the relationship is managed and developed actively. I would like to see more direct involvement from top Indian and British business leaders.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Commonwealth Business Forum 2011

Commonwealth Business Forum 2011

Perth, Australia, 25th -27th October 2011

Partnering for Global Growth: The Commonwealth, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Rim

Communiqué and Report to Heads of Government (CHOGM)

The New Commonwealth

This has been the biggest and most vibrant Commonwealth Business Forum ever. Over 1400 business and government leaders from 54 countries participated over the three days, including 16 Heads of Government. 150 global business leaders and experts addressed the Forum and we held 20 country/state investment windows, including 6 led by Heads.

The CBF is a growing part of the CHOGM experience, evidence that trade, investment and economic partnerships are now part of the lifeblood of the new Commonwealth. In the words of Australia’s leading financial title, “a new kind of Commonwealth was on show” in the Perth CBF, which can aid the revival of the association and make it relevant to the modern world. We expect this “rebranding” will enhance the role and strength of the Commonwealth further.

We therefore ask Heads of Government to reshape the way the Commonwealth works and focus more on cooperation for trade and investment, jobs and growth to complement its work on good governance. CBC is willing to mobilise the Commonwealth private sector in this effort under the leadership of the incoming Commonwealth Chair in Office, the Prime Minister of Australia.

The Commonwealth and the Investment Climate

The business leaders and experts agreed that the majority of the Commonwealth - including developed as well as developing countries - are better placed than many to weather the current economic turbulence. Commonwealth countries are investment destinations of choice, have high governance and business standards. The World Bank and international agencies recognise that these standards continue to rise. It is important to maintain this momentum. Australia, as a successful developed economy and chair-in-office is in an excellent position to lead this Commonwealth effort.

Global Outlook

The attention of the business community is now on the overall health of the global economy. Economic forecasting is not the purpose of the CBF, but the dangers of a double dip recession in Europe and North America, with collateral damage to all emerging markets is real. At the same time, the underlying changes occurring in the global economy continue to point to a long and historic cycle of growth. 4-7% growth rates in emerging markets are now a long-term norm, part of the embedded structure of the new world economy.

While national and personal debt levels in many larger economies are high, one bright light is that globally, corporate balance sheets and reserves are in very good shape. This illustrates the importance of governments taking firm action to manage markets and fiscal systems to promote confidence, so that these capital resources can be used to invest in growth.

The opportunities for growth in the next century revolve around biotechnology, information technology, green growth and renewable energy. Governments need to work with the private sector, universities and civil society to harness technology to create sustainable growth.

Free Trade and Open Markets

We welcome the leadership of the Australian Government in committing to zero tariffs for emerging economies, and we urge leaders to explore ways in which bilateral and multi-country agreements can be advanced to promote growth.

Public Private Dialogue

The importance of dialogue between governments and business at a global and national level has never been greater. This is illustrated by the discussion of a number of key topics –climate change, infrastructure, and natural resources that remain fundamental to development in all economies. There is a declining trend line in available public funding. Private capital can take up the slack, but this requires a clear and predictable rate of return. This is a further example of how well managed public private partnerships are needed to facilitate investment.

The message to leaders is to stay the course to effectively manage globalisation for growth. We urge Heads of Government to focus on the following priorities: skills and education for jobs; access to finance for business growth; infrastructure development; support for SMEs; business friendly tax policies; tackle corruption and strengthen corporate governance.

The Commonwealth Regions

Africa is a new zone of economic development and growth, confidence and stability – poised to use its enormous resources to benefit hundreds of millions of its citizens.

This week’s discussions and investment sessions also reinforce the potential of an Indian Ocean economic zone – which can be built on over the next two CHOGMs in Sri Lanka and Mauritius. The ability of this region, including South Asia, to drive sustained growth is strong. Our sessions on Australia, Mauritius, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka demonstrate this.

The Pacific is perhaps the least known region in the world with special opportunities, and we are glad to have had a delegation from 8 Pacific countries with us. New joint programmes were agreed.

The link developed with Caribbean countries was further strengthened, creating new linkages with Australia and using the Caribbean as an entry point for the Americas. We confirm the importance of small states and islands to the business promotion work of the Commonwealth.

Actions and Results

At the Forum we launched a number of practical initiatives.

1. Mining: to complement the Australian Mining for Development Initiative announced this week, we established the Commonwealth Mining Network that will help to link the private sector to the needs of Commonwealth developing governments to manage their mining sectors more sustainably. We thank the companies and chambers that have agreed to support this.

2. Skills for Jobs and Careers: to strengthen public private partnerships on employment creation and careers, we are launching an initiative to link business-designed training with career opportunities for disadvantaged citizens across the Commonwealth. The Australian covenant for disadvantaged citizens is a promising model with its link between training and guaranteed employment. We invite interested Commonwealth governments to work with CBC to establish nationally tailored programmes based on this model.

3. Enterprise: SME development is at the heart of employment creation and sustainable growth. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Western Australia Chamber of Commerce have agreed with CBC to set up a programme with the Bank of Industry Nigeria and partners from the Pacific, India, and Africa to work with companies and governments to use their supply chains and other measures to support enterprise and the SME sector.

4. Women own up to 39% of private businesses in the formal economy but have not penetrated the global supply chain, are underrepresented on boards, and lack access to finance. CBC will work with the International Federation of Women Entrepreneurs and British Association of Women Entrepreneurs to establish a Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network to strengthen the overarching strategy for women in business around procurement and policy.

5. We were delighted to have with us more than 60 Chinese business leaders who joined us for the discussions on Commonwealth-China cooperation, and we had our first ever CBF sponsor from China – ICBC. We signed an MOU between CBC and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) to forge greater cooperation that will launch a Commonwealth-China business network.

6. We began a new cooperation between CBC and the Pacific Forum on Pacific trade and investment.

7. We established the Australia-Nigeria Trade and Investment Council. We believe that this is a good example of how the friendships and solid relationships of the Commonwealth can be used to develop economic cooperation. If the world stands still on trade and investment reform, the Commonwealth partners can still find ways to move ahead.

8. Sport: CBC will set up a group of leading Commonwealth companies to develop the ways that business can be more involved in using sport for economic growth and jobs.

9. The Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) and CBC will establish a Commonwealth IPA network to share best practice and improve links between IPAs. We will set up an e-platform network and work together in preparing for CBF 2013.

10. Improving Business: to increase ease of doing business the Forum endorses consideration of a Commonwealth business visa similar to APEC. The Forum received a presentation on a Commonwealth Cybercrime Initiative, which was welcomed by business.

Finally, the deal flow discussed at this Forum is on track to deliver $10bn in new projects and investments over the next 6-9 months. We have been able to organise a large number of high-level meetings around the $100bn of projects in the CBF project exchange. We expect the thousands of 1-2-1 exchanges between delegates to lead to a healthy deal flow in 2012.

We would like to thank our more than 180 speakers and chairs of sessions, and once again express sincere thanks to Prime Minister Gillard and the Australian Government, Premier Colin Barnett and the Government of Western Australia for their support in hosting the meeting. We also express our appreciation to our Forum Steering Committee lead by John Denton and Mark Barnaba as well as each of the 50 organisations whose sponsorship made it possible, especially our principal sponsors ANZ, BP, Fortescue, Perdaman, Rio Tinto, and Woodside. A full list is annexed.

Commonwealth Business Council
Perth, Australia
27 October 2011

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

India and corruption

The current situation in India, popular protests against corruption led by Anna Hazare, has set me thinking.

I think, particularly in a country as diverse and large as India, inclusive growth requires inclusive democracy. The wide spread protest against corruption have shown that India has an appetite for participatory democracy, and given the sheer size and scale of the Indian state ‘people power’ might be necessary to keep it in check.

If nothing else this incident has shown once again how important tackling corruption is to a country’s development, Moody’s the ratings agency says that ‘cases of corruption and the recent scandals have impaired business environment in India’. Tackling this is important before it has an impact on India’s ability to attract international business and investment and further damages the countries reputation as a safe place to do business.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Nigeria: a county of tremendous potential

I was honoured to be invited to address the Business Environment Roundtable on the 2011 Nigerian Economic Road Map by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry last month to provide an international perspective to their discussions of Nigeria's development plans.

Nigeria is a county of tremendous potential that should be leading in Africa and the world, a population of 150 million people all of whom are potential entrepreneur as anyone that knows the country will be able to testify to. The Current Administration aims to make Nigeria on the world's 20 largest countries by 2020, this is achievable. Indeed, Goldman Sachs believes that with the right reforms, Nigeria would be the world's fifteenth largest economy by 2050 and Standard Chartered the largest economy in Africa by 2013.

Nigeria is making good progress - the recent elections have solidify the image of Nigeria as a working and fair democracy, even Britain's traditionally negative press could find little to complain about. Nigeria's work in securing peace and democracy in the region, particularly its vocal defence of the principal of Democratic Succession in Cote d'Ivoire, has helped elevate the county to new levels on the international stage.

The key challenge for Nigeria to tackle if it is to meet its potential is its infrastructure deficit. The Central Bank estimates that Nigeria needs to invest $100billion (about N15 trillion) over the next 10 years to fill the deficit. In the power sector. Nigeria expends about $13 billion every year providing power from diesel generators when only about

$10 billion per year is required in investment over the next few years to develop our generation, distribution and transmission capacities. Generating power from generators adds more than 40 percent to the cost of goods and services in Nigeria.

Given the scale of the investment required the only truly viable way of meeting the need is though, public-private partnership. Government needs to work closely with business, both national and international, to ensure that the funding to tackle this deficit is met.

Nigeria is going to remain a country of tremendous opportunity for investor for foreseeable future and I would encourage, everyone to look at the opportunities there for their own businesses.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group

We appreciate the work the Eminent Persons Group has done on looking at the future of the Commonwealth, particularly there recognition of the need to Commonwealth Trade Ministers meeting. However, I have concerns that some of the key issues are not being addressed, particularly the role of the Commonwealth in advancing economic and social development.

Commonwealth Heads of Government specifically targeted these goals as new priorities in their 1997 Edinburgh Commonwealth Economic Declaration "Promoting Shared Prosperity", and set up the Commonwealth Business Council and biannual Commonwealth Business Forum to advance this. As they concluded in their 1997 Declaration, the growth and investment agenda requires "vigorous" collective efforts if it is to be advanced.

I would encourage the EPG to include a focus on 3 specific areas, in their final draft.

There should be specific mention in the proposed Commonwealth Charter of – promoting economic prosperity and growth through joint business and government partnerships. This would result in the creation of millions of new jobs, SMEs and cross Commonwealth investment which would be of benefit to all commonwealth citizens.

A clear formal cooperation mechanism between on the one hand the Secretariat, and on the other the CBC and other similar, large Commonwealth organisations should be included in the final draft. In order to deliver improved technical assistance and development programmes to support the economic development focus.

And that the achievements of CBC and CBF be formally recognised by EPG, CBF has become a uniquely valued and important part of the Heads' programme and is now seen as an integral part of CHOGM. CBC itself has become the second largest Commonwealth organisation, without any core government funding, and has raised some £30m for its own work since inception. In the last two years, 25 member state governments have worked directly with the CBC on a range of investment promotion and policy exercises linked to SME development, infrastructure, energy, and health and job creation.

I strongly support the EPG’s focus on political good governance. However, the EPG report is currently incomplete and unbalanced as it lacks a serious treatment of economic development issues.

I hope the EPG will take these points to heart, making the Commonwealth Relevant for today means making it focus on issues that are on the minds of Heads of Government, day to day. Namely, job creation, investment, business development and economic growth as well as the Good Governance and Human Rights. The Commonwealth should give equal focus to both governance and economic as they are 2 sides of the same coin.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

China and the Commonwealth

I was delighted to return to Beijing in May to Launch the Commonwealth Business Forum 2011 to the Chinese Market. China will be an important player in this year’s Forum given Perth’s, the host city, resource development with the country and Commonwealth’s African Members increasing relationships with Beijing. We hope the Forum can be a stepping stone to introducing Chinese companies and investment to some of the Commonwealth less well known Members.

While there I was honoured to be invited to address the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade’s annual Chinese Enterprises Outbound Investment Conference. This was the first time the Commonwealth was represented at the Conference and I was delighted to have the opportunity to introduce the 1000 plus delegates to the opportunities available in the association.

Ensuring the Commonwealth’s myriad opportunities are well recognised in China is essential given the scale of the countries overseas investment, in 2009 Chinese Companies invested US$56.3 billion dollars abroad; this was 3125 investments to overseas companies, in 129 countries. As China continues its ‘Going Global’ policy it is essential that the Commonwealth gets its share of this increasingly large pie.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Namibia & SADC

I was lucky enough to visit Namibia earlier this month and call on the President, HE Hifikepunye Pohamba, to discuss CBC’s plans for the year. Namibia is a great country to visit and one that holds good personal memories for me – I was there in the late 80s and 90s running a special program on management development during the democratisation process.

I was delighted to drive through green fields and see firsthand the level of agricultural development the country has achieved – Namibia’s progress since I was last there is most impressive. President Pohamba is proud of the progress his country has made and is keen to continue pushing forward in key sectors – he highlighted education and youth unemployment as key challenges for the coming year.

The President was also keen to highlight the importance of SADC to Southern Africa’s regional economy. President Pohamba is the 2011 Chair of SADC and has assigned himself the key task of strengthening regional infrastructure projects to help move the region closer to a single market.

It is in this capacity we have invited him to address the Africa Business Forum 2011 in London in June. This year’s ABF has a strong SADC focus and addresses the theme ‘Regional Integration and Drivers of Growth’. The President will deliver the opening address at the Forum and will be supported by Ministers from the region and Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomão, Executive Secretary of SADC.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Opportunities in Zambia

It was a pleasure to be in Zambia a couple of weeks ago, it is a county I have visited may times over my career and one I have always enjoyed my stays in. I was in Livingston for the Annual meeting of the Zambia International Business Advisory Council with President Banda. It was great to hear about the progress Zambia has made over the last decade since the council was set up. Zambia, last year, had the highest growth rate in Africa and the 25 highest in the world, Zambia is now one of the largest copper producers in the world and last year increased its output at a rate higher then both Chilli and China. The Country’s GDP per Capita has now reached lower middle income levels. The ZIBAC board members were universally impressed worth the progress the country has made and at how well it is doing. One of the main recommendations to President Banda was that he should increase the money spent on making sure the world knows about Zambia’s successes and possibilities – as you only need tell a bad news story once for it to be heard, but good news needs to repeated again and again…………

Following the ZIBAC meeting we held the first Zambia Investment Forum, which we co-organised with the Zambia Development Agency. The Forum brought together 50 international business leaders and investors with local project holders and government leaders to forge new partnerships and help increase the involvement of the international private sector in Zambia’s economy. 3 MoUs we signed at the Event.

The President told me that his government is stepping up its efforts to tackle its skills and training shortages in the population and recognises this can only be done in partnership with the private sector – so this will be a thriving investment opportunity over the coming years as well as good opportunities in Agriculture, Tourism and Mining.

Zambia is a great investment destination and I would encourage investors to look closely at the opportunities available there.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


I was very Grateful to have the opportunity to catch up with President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, it was a good meeting covering many different things. Mozambique is a country CBC has a strong relationship with, and I a personal one, I have sat on the President's Advisory Council for several years now.

We discussed the challenges that President Guebuza's Government faces, particularly the recovery from the financial crisis, that's impact is still being felt in Mozambique and a growing skills shortage in the Country. The President highlighted transport infrastructure as one of his key priorities for the coming years, and was clear to point out the importance of working in partnership with the Private Sector and international agencies to deliver projects.

He was keen to highlight successful projects in Mining and Agriculture that are coming steam shortly, and show the plentiful opportunities that remain in these sectors for international investors with an interest. I was also delighted that President Guebuza has accepted our invitation to speak at the Commonwealth Business Forum to be held in Perth, where he will also chair a roundtable focusing on enhancing partnerships between the mining community in Mozambique and Australia.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Eminent Persons Group's Recommendations

While I welcome the Eminent Persons Group's recommendations on the need for reform and greater collaboration between commonwealth agencies, what was not in the report was a great disappointment.

The report did not specify what reforms need to be conducted to ensure the association stays relevant in the future and keeps delivering for all 54 states. The statement on collaboration between agencies and Secretariat, fails to elaborate on the quality and type of technical assistance, or on the delivery of technical assistance through the Commonwealth's Key agencies outside the Secretariat. Delivering though other agencies could be key mechanism to reduce the cost of delivering technical assistance, improving is quality and reducing duplication and redundancy within the Commonwealth family. This would allow the size of Secretariat to be reduced while increasing the quality of scope of the Technical Assistance provided.

It is equally disappointing that the Eminent Persons did not talk about the Private sector and growth, as I have mentioned before, it is my belief that the Commonwealth works at its very best when giving dual focus to both the Harare Declaration on Human Rights and the Edinborough Economic Declaration. And in this time of increased economic hardships in most Commonwealth countries, private sector money is going to be more and more important. It is unlikely Governments are going to put forward large sums of new money given the pressing domestic priorities. Refocusing existing money and mobilising the private sector and other funding sources could be an answer.

As the Eminent Persons Group have said there is now real possibility of the official Commonwealth slowly moving towards the end of the road. I hope the upcoming CHOGM to be held in Perth, Australia in October will give the Association a new beginning. But given the contents of the eminent persons report, I fear it is again going to be tweaking rather than true reform.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Rwanda's Impressive Growth

I was recently in Rwanda to brief President Kagame on CBC’s programme for the coming months and discuss his involvement in the Commonwealth Business Forum to be held in Perth, Australia later this year. This was the first trip to Rwanda where I had the chance to get out and around and see some of the Country outside of Kigali.

I was impressed by the level of development visible outside of the capital, the roads we used to travel to the new Free Trade Zones the government are setting up to promote exports are world class. And one of President Kagame’s headline schemes to get Rwanda on-line, is nearly complete – this will open up huge new opportunities across the country.

Rwanda’s success has lessons for us all, President Kagame has lead an active international investment promotion campaign that is paying dividends. Much of Rwanda’s growth is driven by the Private Sector, giving the Government room to focus on the countries social needs.

During our discussions, President Kagame was keen to highlight the emerging investment opportunities in Rwanda’s power sector, including Hydro, Methane Gas and other renewable and in ICT. And he was particularly keen to highlight the opportunities in Agriculture, specifically Tea and Tea processing where the value addition is now being done inside Rwanda.

President Kagame will lead a business delegation to the Africa Investment Forum in Tanzania on April 17 -19, where many of the Projects he highlighted will be presented. I would encourage all of those with an interest to come along to the Forum as it will be a very important business event for East Africa and the Continent as a whole.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Public Sector Reform in the UK

In the UK currently much of the political discourse is centred on reducing Britain's Deficit and the Government's cuts in spending and the resulting impact on public services. However there is a second quite interesting stream to the government's plans that is receiving less media attention, the reform and the enhance role of the private sector in public services.

The UK has led in the past on enhancing the role business plays in the public sector, throughout the 80s it was the privatisation of unities, something that many other countries have emulated since. In the 90s and early 2000s it was the UK that led the way on Public Private Partnerships with PFIs, this initiative is also used increasing abroad and the UK is one of the world's largest providers of experts in this field.

The UK has a history of innovative public sector reform and this next round proposed by the Prime Minister David Cameron has the opportunity to be in the same vein. Plans to open government contracts up to SMEs rather than just large Corporates, for example, is sensible, it allows the country's largest employing sector access to the country's largest buyer. And widening the role the Private Sector can play in the provision of services will increase competition and hopefully improve quality at a time when government is decreasing spending.

If well implemented, this round of reform could well be emulated across the globe like the past.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Power in the Commonwealth

Many Commonwealth County's development aims are being held back by
inadequate power supply and infrastructure. We have prioritised
infrastructure development in developing Commonwealth countries as a key
driver of economic growth and living standards, as a part of this we
will hold our first Ministerial Power Summit next week in London.

The summit is designed to bring together key stake holders in the power
sector to discuss in detail the issues facing the industry, and share
best practice and solutions from around the Commonwealth. The Summit
will be addressed by Power Ministers from 12 countries including 2 of
the Commonwealths largest markets, India and Nigeria. The Ministers will
present, to the audience of power experts and financiers, on the
opportunities and challenges in there respective countries. Many are
traveling with delegations including senior officials and
representatives of their regulatory bodies.

Over the next 15 years global energy demand is expected to grow by 49%
with at least 70% of this will come from developing countries, led by
China and India. Government alone will be unable to deliver the
generation capacity required to meet this increase in demand.
Partnership between the private sector and Government are going to be
essential and the sharing of best practice between countries that have
already developed successful models will be required. We hope that next
weeks power summit will be able to help with this.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Commonwealth Business Forum Launch

On 31st January we launched of the Commonwealth Business Forum in Perth with the Premier of Western Australia, Hon Colin Barnett, and Special Minister of State, the Hon Gary Gray who represented the Prime Minister at the Event.

The Strength of the attendance at the Launch has further convinced me that this will be one of the best events CBC has ever held; the business community in Perth have a real enthusiasm for the Business Forum and are excited at the prospect of hosting their peers from across the Commonwealth.

The Forum will bring together business and government in unprecedented numbers, in my other travels I have already received positive feedback from India at both State and Federal Level and the President of Tanzania has agreed to bring a delegation to the Forum. We are planning for 15 Heads of Government, over 40 Minister, 100 Business Speakers and 1200 Delegates. It will be a great event and I hope you will be able to join – you can find our more at the newly launched event website

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Tanzania and AIF

I was in Tanzania last week to meet with President Kikwete to discuss preparations to hold the Africa Investment Forum in Dar es Salaam. This year AIF will be a part of the East African Community Summit and will be addressed by all 5 EAC heads of Government.

Tanzania holds a particularly affection for me, it was host at the request of then President Mkapa, to CBC’s first Investors Roundtable back in 1999. This clearly demonstrated CBC’s early commitment to taking investment to countries that had never received it before, as it was also the first international investor conference ever held in Tanzania.

The AIF, always a popular event, this year comes at a time when Africa’s star is rising and the world is taking more notice than ever before. The IMF’s most recent forecasts have predicted that 7 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world over the next 10 years will be in Africa. The potential of a Continent with 1 billion possible consumers, that has added more people to the middle classes over the last decade than any other area of the world is not to be underestimated.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Planning for 2011

This year is going to be one of CBC's busiest. As a CHOGM year 2011 will have a strong focus on Perth and the build up to the Commonwealth Business Forum in October. However before we fly to Australia we will hold events across the Commonwealth. Starting next week in Gujarat, India where we will hold a SME roundtable as part of the Vibrant Gujarat event. Our Africa focus will be maintained by the Africa Investment Forum to be held in Tanzania and the G8 Africa Business Forum to be held in London. We will return to the Americas for the Caribbean Investment Forum in Trinidad & Tobago. This is alongside plans to host a number of Commonwealth Heads of Governments and Senior Ministers at Members functions throughout the coming year.

While Perth will be our main focus over the coming year as we develop the business forum programme with our corporate members and other stake holders, we will focus on 4 main themes throughout 2011.

1) Broaden the range of Commonwealth countries that CBC interacts with and play a role in promoting Trade and Investment in their economies.

2) Play a greater role in helping strengthen connections between Commonwealth countries and the wider global economy.

3) Continue CBC's focus on infrastructure development as a key support for growth and development

4) Finally CBC will develop a stronger focus on helping SMEs to internationalise into the global economy