Name: Nafissa Dia
Organization: Senegal Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Planning
Functional Title: Head of the Environmental Affairs Division
Country: Senegal
Course participated in: Private Sector Development course with PFTP

Nafissa Dia is Head of the Environmental Affairs Division at the Senegal Ministry of Economy, Finance, and Planning. She took a course on Private Sector Development organized by the Public Finance and Trade Programme (PFTP) at UNITAR.

Nafissa’s background is in International Commerce. She went to the International School of Administration in Dakar where she studied economics, commerce, and administration.

She started her career in Public Administration in Senegal at the Ministry of Commerce, where she was dealing with questions of intellectual property. She also tackled issues of international cooperation between Senegal and Asian countries at the Ministry of Cooperation.

She later went to Canada to work in public administration, and then returned to Senegal where she started her career in private sector development with the Ministry of Economics and Finance.

She took UNITAR’s private sector development course to strengthen her skills:

“I was new at the job, and even though I was competent, I thought to myself that I could reinforce my capacity, and learn to develop measures to help the private sector.”

The course covered the basics of private sector development, and evaluated what the needs of the private sector were: “They put us in teams… We brainstormed together and created an idea-bank with ideas on how we could reinforce our private sectors. Then we produced a final document with all of our ideas.” She found the collaborative aspect of the course especially enriching: “Sharing the knowledge and experiences was very useful.”

“We were from many different countries”, Nafissa recalls. The diversity of the participants led to some particularly enlightening discussions: “We found that our countries had similar needs, and the same obstacles and problems.” She also realized that nothing happens in a vacuum: “We learnt that we cannot only think of our own country. In West Africa we are a community of countries. Learning about the goals of other countries helped us to figure out our priorities, we can’t develop our private sector just for us.”

She says it is important to always keep an eye on the bigger picture:

“We want to develop it within a community context, in an international context, so it’s important to know what issues other countries are facing with private sector development, to better focus our reform and our politics.”

She was glad that she could transfer her knowledge to her job: “The course wasn’t just theoretical, it had practical applications as well, it's directly in line with my daily tasks at the office.”

“Private sector development is a passion for me… Before I was more interested in government and intellectual property, but private sector development is more focused, and more practical as well, we’re helping to create jobs, to advance the economy, the results are much more visible at this level. It’s become a real passion of mine and I want to continue to work in this area.”

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