African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina has said that the narrative of ‘Africa rising’ is far from over, calling on people to consider investing in the continent.
Acknowledging the economic challenges faced by Africa, including the drop in commodity prices, the AfDB President underscored the continent’s resilience adding that the projected facts on Africa’s growth in 2016 indicate that the continent is progressing.
“We must not believe the narrative of doom and gloom on Africa,” he said. “Just look at the facts: while the global economy is projected by the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] to grow at 3% this year, Africa is projected to grow at 4.4% in 2016 and strengthen further to 5% in 2017. That is good news! African economies are not unraveling – they are resilient! Africa is still the best place to invest.”
He was speaking during a keynote speech delivered at the Africa 2016 forum in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt on Sunday. Dr Adesina also said that “an open Africa will be an unstoppable Africa”, calling on stakeholders to work towards breaking down the barriers which are key to Africa’s long-term growth and prosperity.
The meeting which was an invitation of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, African Heads of State and thought leaders, investors and partners gathered in the Red Sea resort on February 20 and 21, 2016 for the “Africa 2016: Business for Africa, Egypt, and the World” conference.
The goal of the meeting: to accelerate private sector engagement and investment within Africa, forge new partnerships and highlight the African opportunity.
Adesina applauded Egypt and its President for an ambitious development program. “President el-Sisi, your vision for Egypt is a bold one: you are thinking big, acting big – delivering with speed,” he said.
Citing the advances made on the country’s $8.2-billion Suez Canal expansion project, which was completed in just one year, AfDB President called on African countries to emulate Egypt’s lead. He also acknowledged the Capital Cairo project, a plan to build a new modern capital city at the cost of $45 billion.
“The message and lesson are clear,” Adesina said. “African countries should accelerate their pace of growth and development. Africa must think big, act big, and deliver big. We must never have low aspirations for Africa. The African Development Bank – your Bank – will be there to support you.”
In 2015, African Development Bank extended $140 million in co-financing support to the Government of Egypt for the Sharm el Sheikh Airport Expansion Project and approved and fully disbursed $500 million in budget support, bringing the AfDB’s active portfolio in Egypt to $2.23 billion (32 operations).
Speaking about debts, Adesina said Africa must not fall into the foreign currency denominated debt again. To do that “there is need to urgently focus on macroeconomic stabilization and fiscal consolidation, and rapidly diversify African economies, broaden the export market destinations, and expand the export mix,’ he advised adding that “most importantly, Africa must shift its focus to domestic resource mobilization for capital formation for sustained growth.”
He said Africa must tap into and securitize remittances for development. The AfDB president noted that Africans investing has increased over the years and it sends a powerful signal. “Remittances to Africa have risen from $11 billion in 2000 to over $62 billion in 2014, far exceeding Official Development Assistance inflows.”
“Sovereign Wealth Funds assets under management in Africa have risen from $114 billion in 2009 to $162 billion in 2014. Pension funds currently stand at $334 billion. And Africa today generates about $500 billion in domestic taxes. Africa must mobilize all these domestic resources to accelerate its development - that way it can decide its own direction and pace of growth. It can develop itself with pride.”
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