FROM THE IZF PROJECT TO THE IZF ASSOCIATION
IZF "INVEST IN THE FRANC ZONE"
I - IZF Project History "portal www.izf.net "
The www.izf.net site, common ownership of UEMOA and CEMAC, was established in October 1998, on the initiative of the Ministers of Economy and Finance of the Franc Zone, to fill a gap: the nonexistence of useful and credible information on the countries that share the CFA franc, because after the last devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994, growth had resumed in most countries through vigorous important economic and financial restructuring measures, but the level of investment, including foreign direct investments, remained very low.
Surveys of CEOs, North and South, allowed to identify the set of obstacles to the investment, among which the lack of information on the economic potentialities, on opportunities and on regulations regarding investment.
Hence the idea to take advantage of innovations in Information and Communication Technologies (TIC) by the IZF Project and creating a website to address the concerns of business leaders by providing them with information essential to their activities in the country of The Franc Zone and the possibilities of establishing business relations between South economic operators but also between them and those of other continents.
At its inception in 1998, four (04) main tasks were assigned to the site www.izf.net:
- Integration: Give the image of a common window
- Promotion of the Franc Zone: To allow better knowledge of the economic potential of the Zone;
- Business Facilitation: Providing a practical, coherent, updated information and in tune with the needs of businesses;
- Business Development: To encourage business development by linking to distant economic players and who do not have specific framework research opportunities on the Franc Zone.
Following the success met by the site www.izf.net since its inception and for the sake of diversification and modernisation of decision making tools, the site has undergone several refurbishments and new portals were created.
II -Association IZF "Invest in the Franc Zone":
IZF began its institutional Sustainability in 2003: The steering Committee was replaced by an association of Burkinabe law, non-profit and in rotating presidency between UEMOA Commissions and CEMAC.
The IZF Association is responsible for site management www.izf.net, Common property of the CEMAC and UEMOA.
The objectives of the IZF Association:
- Make visible the actions of the Organs and Institutions of CEMAC and UEMOA, and those of other members;
- Promoting investments in the Franc Zone;
- Build trade capacity of companies operating in the Zone;
- Increase exports of these companies
- Contribute to improving the integration of the Franc Zone countries in world trade;
- Support youth entrepreneurship.
The IZF Association's structures are a Board of Directors, a General Assembly and an office.
The members of the Board of Directors of the IZF Association are:
- The CEMAC Commission;
- The WAEMU Commission;
- The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- The International Organisation of Francophonie (OIF);
- The Regional Consular Chamber of UEMOA.
The presidency of the Association and of the Board rotates between the Chairmen of CEMAC and UEMOA Commissions. They have delegated their authority to two Commissioners.
The Chairmen of CEMAC and UEMOA are represented on the Board respectively by one of their Commissioners.
The office of the Association is composed as follows:
- A president;
- A Vice-President;
- A General Treasurer.
The office of the Association is assisted by a Coordinator. He is assisted by a Deputy Coordinator.
The IZF Association relies on its internal structures (Coordination Unit and its technical units), the network of Chambers of Commerce and related services of CEMAC member countries (Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Chad) and UEMOA (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo), central banks and development of the two areas, other partners and structures to lead and develop the ww.izf.net website.
III - The portals and professional services:
IZF "Investing in the Franc Zone", is about:
- 14 countries Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Congo, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Niger, Central African Republic, Senegal, Chad and Togo;
- 01 currency : The CFA franc;
- 01 mobile application " IZF.net " in six languages (French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic) available on Apple Store, Windows Phone Store and Google Play Store;
- 01 website: www.izf.net with 05 specialized portals in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic and professional services.
III-1 The site’s portals are:
- "General Space": Launches operational information on Africa but also on all 14 countries of the CEMAC and UEMOA, on the functioning of its institutions and the economic, monetary and trade data and of the latest News.
- "Business Space": Provides first-hand information to enterprises in order to facilitate their decision making about investing in these countries. The goal was to have a business dialogue platform between North and South firms, and a dialogue between the South firms among them.
- "Exportation Space": Intended for Exporting and potentially Exporting Companies, it aims to strengthen their Export capabilities to regional and international markets. It launches on-line commercial information specific to each of the 14 countries of the Franc Zone and transversal to all countries.
- "Directory of companies": A tool to support the development of the private sector, intermediary organizations and support structures, enabling any investor or any other interested person to find the right person in the country of their choice. It enables enterprises established in one of the 14 countries of the CEMAC and UEMOA to have a space on the IZF site to promote itself, or promote its services and products. Enterprises are classified by type of structure (SME, intermediary organisations, support structures and other companies), by country, by region (UEMOA and CEMAC) and by sector. The features have been refined to highlight "SME Observatory" from the directory. The regulations on companies were displayed online and classifies by country, by institution (regional and international).
- "Factors of Production ": main information intended for the decision-makers, for the economic operators, for the investors, for the public and private authorities, allowing to proceed to a comparative analysis of the costs of the main factors of production.
III-2 Professional services of the Site:
- Threads of information Africa, World and by country: on-line publishing of telegrams of current events from the Agence France Presse and the main press organs concerning Africa and the World.
- Module of tender notices: it allows the management of tender notices. All site visitors can post notices of tenders from their account. A notice will not be permanently published until it has been validated by an administrator. Once the deadline for a notice arrives, it is automatically archived and is no longer visible on the site. Notices are sorted by country and category (field of activity). The brief information published by notice is: country, issuer (structure), title of the notice, the reference, the category, deadline for an answer and the files of the notice in PDF Format.
- Recruitment offers management module: Allows to manage the publication of recruitment offers. It has the same functionality as the tenders notice module (automatic archiving, final publication by an administrator, filing, etc.). The brief information published is: country, transmitter (structure), job title, reference, category, date limit for response and notice files in PDF format.
- Curriculum Vitae Bank: allows every Internet user to deposit his CV on the site www.izf.net from its account and which can be consulted by every Internet user. The brief information published is: country of the depositor, the desired business sector, posts sought desired place of affectation, date of publication of the CV and the CV file.
- Newsletter: a newsletter is sent periodically by email to subscribers allowing to promote your business and your products, and informing you of the latest innovations on the website.
- Discussion Forum: ideal meeting place to discuss projects and business, to give opinions on current events or share experiences.
- Social networks: use of social networks from the website covering different activities and integrating technology, social interaction and content creation.
- Search: access desired information direct through the use of the site's internal search engines.
- Online courses (e-learning): This platform allows the posting of courses by universities, educational structures, institutions or any other interested structure. It is an online learning and training space for students and professionals.
- Expert database and study reports: Used for the publication of the list of experts classified by industry and by country. A simple search will allow to find a desired expertise. This tool allows the posting of various study reports already validated, which may be of interest to businesses, institutions, students, researchers and professionals.
IV - The contacts:
IZF Association Headquarters: UEMOA Commission
380 Avenue Professeur Joseph KI-ZERBO
01 BP 543 Ouagadougou 01 – BURKINA FASO
Tel.: (+226) 25 30 11 08
Fax: (+226) 25 31 88 72
IZF cell: CEMAC Commission
CEMAC Building, Avenue des Martyrs
BP 969 Bangui – CENTRAFRIQUE.
Tel.: (+236) 21 61 65 84
Fax: (+236) 21 61 21 35