Building an Investment Promotion Website at the Sub-National Level: A Step-by-Step Guide

This guide to building an investment promotion website arose out of a technical assistance project aimed at second-tier cities, i.e., not the capitals, in three African countries. The project, the Regional Partnership to Promote Trade and Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa (Regional Partnership), was funded by the Government of Finland and implemented by the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI), a program of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York.

The three cities (Kumasi, Ghana; Mekelle, Ethiopia and Tabora, Tanzania) assisted under the Regional Partnership were a subset of the eleven cities in eight African countries designated as Millennium Cities.

An effective, professional website signals interested businesses that the Investment Promotion Intermediary (IPI) is interested in attracting new investment. In the case of a sub-national IPI, a professional website creates visibility for the region or city, and also signals that the local government is ready to support and facilitate efforts to establish and run a business. In addition, the internet levels the playing field for smaller IPIs. “As Web development tools become more affordable, even IPIs with limited resources can create well-designed Web sites that showcase content and services,” notes the World Bank’s Global Investment Promotion Best Practices (GIPB) 2012.

On the other hand, a poorly designed website without quality content will quickly turn a potential investor away from a city or region. So although a website can be created for a relatively small amount of money — the Millennium Cities sites built in 2012–2013 all cost under $1,000 — it does require some outlay of time and energy, especially in the beginning, but also in updating and maintaining the site.

This guide outlines the steps involved in building a site and offers advice on maintaining a site after it has been built. These instructions reflect experience gained in providing advice and assistance on websites for three Millennium Cities: Blantyre, Malawi; Kumasi, Ghana; and Tabora, Tanzania. (Although Blantyre is not one of the Regional Partnership cities, it is one of the 11 Millennium Cities and so benefited from the experience gained under the Regional Partnership.) Several resources contributed to these sites; this guide should be read with them. In particular, see:

Additional resources are suggested throughout. Read on for step-by-step instructions on building a site and maintaining it after it has been built.