New network aims to connect locally controlled forest enterprises across Africa

The African Forest Enterprises Connect Network (AFECONET) has been set up to connect and support locally controlled forest and farm producers.

News, 26 October 2015

One of AFECONET's founders, Oscar Simanto, says the aim of the new organisation is to connect forest and farm producers across Africa. 

Simanto, who is the head of extension management at Kenya's Forest Service, said: "We are hoping to connect all the forest and farm producers across Africa through the African Forest Enterprises Connect Network so that we can have a knowledge network which is able to provide services to all these producers across the continent."

Simanto was speaking at the launch of a new IIED guide to successful locally controlled forest (LCF) enterprises at the World Forestry Congress in Durban.

The new IIED publication includes 19 case studies of LCF enterprises from 14 developing nations around the world. Entitled 'Democratising forest business: a compendium of successful locally controlled forest business organisations', it analyses the key characteristics of successful LCF businesses and looks at how they can be supported and scaled up.

IIED has been working with a range of partners to understand how best to build support for LCF businesses. Together with the Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) and the Forest Farm Facility (FFF),& hosted by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, it manages the Forest Connect alliance, a network of more than 1,100 members from 94 countries who support LCF enterprises. Forest Connect members identified a need to build on the LCF evidence base and better connect successful enterprises.  

The IIED report highlights the merits of funders and policymakers investing in LCF enterprises. It notes that a key advantage of these types of business is that they have scope to look beyond profit to wider social and environment benefits such as reducing deforestation and improving livelihoods.  

Simanto says the idea for AFECONET, which is affiliated to the Africa Forest Forum, emerged during the fourth international Forest Connect Workshop, held in Hanoi in January 2015. During discussions on scaling up LCF investment, African colleagues identified a lack of coordinated support for LCF businesses in Africa. They decided to set up a network to address the problem.  

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