• The African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said Monday that the Africa’s private sector will continue to lead the continent towards economic transformation.

    He said that although African economies face economic headwinds from the significant decline in the price of commodities, the African economies remain resilient. “While the global economy is projected ... to grow at 3% this year, Africa is projected to grow at 4.4% in 2016, and to accelerate ... to 5% in 2017,” he said adding that the ‘Africa rising’ story remains strong.

    Dr Adesina said these at the launch of the fourth Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan. He was addressing about 500 CEOs from 43 African countries and 20 more worldwide.

    Describing Heads of Governments as the “the CEOs of their national corporations,” Adesina called on governments to allow the private sector to reach its maximum potential. This he said could be achieved by ensuring macroeconomic stabilization and fiscal consolidation, broadening the tax base, and deepening domestic capital markets. He also urged governments to continue addressing the infrastructure deficits, break down barriers to regional integration, and fast-track key reforms.

    Since its establishment, the African CEO Forum has grown to become the best known international meeting of top African business leaders. It is a must-attend event for anyone interested in the strategic priorities of Africa’s private sector. On average, the forum attracts almost 800 participants every year, including high-ranking business people from Africa and all over the world.

    This year’s theme is, ‘New reality, new priorities’ – in the context of Africa adjusting to falling commodity prices and creating new opportunities out of economic diversification.

    Amir Ben Yahmed, Vice-President of Paris-based Groupe Jeune Afrique and the Founder and President of the Africa CEO Forum, said there were efforts in place to deepen financial integration and increase liquidity, citing an AfDB project to link four African stock exchanges, and a joint venture with Bloomberg to facilitate the issuance of sovereign and corporate bonds on African markets.

    Further, he pointed to a growth in remittances and a rise in sovereign wealth funds in Africa and said: “with all these resources, Africa can finance its own development, and doing so enables it to decide its own direction and pace of growth.

    “The formula for the wealth of nations is clear,” he said. “Rich nations add value by transforming raw materials into finished goods while poor nations merely export their raw natural commodities. Africa only accounts for 1.9% of global added value in manufacturing.”

    He called on the private sector to lead in doubling efforts to transform African commodities locally, and in diversifying African economies, particularly into areas like services and tourism.

    Adesina concluded by setting out the vision of the African Development Bank going forward, enshrined in its ‘High 5’ priorities which focus and refresh its current 2013-2022 Ten Year Strategy.

    Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, also stressed Africa’s resilience, and its need to add economic value.

    “It is you – it is the private sector – which will do the most to create jobs for the young people of this continent,” he said, pointing to a ‘win/win partnership’ if the public and private sectors work together. He called on the private sector to step up and fund Africa’s growth and to make concrete proposals within the Africa CEO Forum.

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