The African Economic Platform 2017 officially opens with a plea for a unified and integrated Africa
Honorable Pravind Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius, pledged for an integrated and unified Africa during the opening ceremony of the African Economic Platform yesterday, 20th March at Westin Turtle Bay Resort and Spa, Balaclava.
For Africa to emerge as a strong, resilient and buoyant continent, efforts should be geared towards implementing collaborative actions for the development of the region as a whole.
The first edition of the African Economic Platform bears testimony to the paradigm shift of opening a new chapter in the history of African Union.
The Prime Minister further stated that the African Economic Platform will allow stakeholders in Africa to pull their resources together to achieve a common set of goals. He also commended the efforts of the private sector in promoting investment and economic prosperity.
AEP 2017 brought together Heads of States, political leaders, intellectuals, prominent business people and private sector across the African continent over two days. The public sector together with stakeholders of the private sector should collaborate for the expansion and facilitation of business across Africa.
Drawing on their vast knowledge, the speakers deliberated on the following themes.
Made in Africa, Through Regional Value Chains
This first session was in line with the framework to develop an integrated, prosperous and harmonious Africa.
The speaker has expressed his concern that Africa, although being endowed with abundant natural resources, is fragmented due to divergence on political matters and is still lagging in terms of economic development. The Africa continent represents 3% of the global commerce industry but various regions of Africa are being plagued by extreme poverty. There is hence a pressing need to alleviate poverty across the whole continent.
The panel discussions addressed pertinent questions relating to the development of Africa. The focus was on 4 important themes:
- To give a boost to the trade industry & make the industry more competitive
- To create a Free Trade Area
- To invest in Africa’s youth
- To boost knowledge and know-how
The speaker highlighted it is imperative for Africa to develop home-grown solutions for its challenges.
Africa is a continent on the rise and to achieve high sustainable growth, governments should focus on 3 key areas, namely government, industry and academia.
The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA): Expanding Opportunities for Intra African Trade, Business and Investments
The discussions revolved around matters relating to the Continental Free Trade Area, namely the status of CFTA and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) integration and how to overcome related challenges and the promotion of cross-border movement of factors. The roadmap for African Integration can be achieved through enhanced connectivity. In order to link the continent, Africa created the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) which regroups three existing trade blocs, namely the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) which are to be united into a single new zone by 2017 in parallel with the establishment of CFTA. Africa must open markets rather than opting for nationalisation to promote trading in smaller markets.
Day two of the forum was marked by the following interactive panel discussions.
Competitiveness of the African Private Sector Building Pan-African Enterprises
This session focused on the need to develop a competitive private sector in Africa and benefit from economies of scale derived from value chains and intra-African trade. This will result in quality products at competitive prices. The speaker stressed that private sector should improve its competitiveness which is the engine of economic growth.
The speaker highlighted that it is imperative for Africa to eliminate cumbersome administrative regulatory and legal systems which deter investors from considering Africa as an investment destination of choice. To attract higher FDI inflows, Africa should create a business-friendly environment for investors. A competitive private sector is essential for an economy to flourish. Africa must devise a strategy to attract investment to ensure future economic growth, in the 2 categories listed hereunder:
- Domestic large-scale investment – provision and access to capital and finance for companies
- Attract Foreign Direct Investment – FDI can enlarge the potential of the African continent and improve domestic linkages
Governmental institutions, private sector enterprises and the academia have a key collaborative role to play to facilitate investment into the continent, thereby solving the challenges faced by the business community. SMEs have an important role to play in shaping the future of Africa.
African Skills Revolution, Empowering Youth for Employment, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
This session focused on Human Capital as an asset for growth. To alleviate poverty, the continent must invest in human capital and entrepreneurship which will create jobs for the young generation. Moreover, to tackle the issue of skills mismatch and deficiency in Africa, technical education and training should be promoted. Technology and quality education will play a crucial role to move the economy from its primary to a tertiary stage.
21 March 2017