The Economic Commission for Africa’s Third Africa Business Forum ended in Addis Ababa Tuesday with high-level participants agreeing the continent can rise exponentially with good governance and creation of enabling policies for private capital to flow into the energy, health and ICT sectors.
Held under the theme; Investing in People, Planet and Prosperity, the Forum allowed delegates, among them Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mozambique’s Prime Minister, Carlos Agostinho do Rosário, ministers and investors, among them Scott Mather of Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), to share ideas on innovative financing in the energy, health and ICT sectors.
The leaders discussed Africa’s readiness to seize renewable energy by creating the right mix; technologies being pioneered by its youth to help solve problems; and abundant opportunities that can be unleashed through the enactment of the right policies and regulatory frameworks, particularly in these three sectors, with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) set to become operational in July.
Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles signed a commitment document aimed at implementing a joInt ECA AU led AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative for local production and pooled procurement of maternal and childcare medicines in Africa.
President Mnangagwa reiterated that Zimbabwe was open for business and ready to welcome investors into the country’s energy sector.
“Increasing energy production in the country will allow us to mechanize our agriculture and in the process enhance productivity, boost food security, which is our main concern right now, and create jobs,” said Mr. Mnangagwa.
He said African leaders should walk the talk on agreed programmes that seek to transform the continent.
Mr. do Rosário said Mozambique was also ready to welcome investors into its energy sector.
“Mozambique, like the rest of Africa, has vast natural resources that are waiting to be tapped. We have oil and gas company and would readily welcome investors willing to work with us for the betterment of our people,” he said.
Speaking during the opening session, ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, said; “One of the reasons we cannot silence the guns in Africa is because there are no jobs for the youth. There is no energy to power job creation. We can silence the guns if the right investments are made into our energy and ICT sectors, including strengthening our health systems in partnership with the private sector.”
“If we cannot ensure Africa has the energy it needs then 2030 is really a distant dream. We need to do more and we need to do it faster.”
She said Africa should make clean energy investments now.
“Ambitious climate action can deliver a US$26 trillion boost to the global economy between now and 2030. If we enter into the new climate economy, we can create 20 million jobs for the continent. Right now we need 13 million jobs every year,” Ms. Songwe said in her closing remarks.
For his part, Mr. Mather, whose company manages US$2 trillion worth of assets the world over for private investors, said his company was ready to work with African governments to ensure they tap into clean energy to power the continent’s inclusive development and address climate change at the same time.
Africa, he said, presented a historic business opportunity for international investors.
“A bold initiative is needed to address Africa’s energy challenges. We can work together to find concrete ways with the partners we represent to push Africa’s sustainable development vision,” said Mr. Mather, Chief Investment Officer, U.S. Core Strategies, PIMCO, adding, equitable growth on the continent can be powered by clean, reliable and affordable energy.
“We need governments and policy makers, especially at the national level, to create enabling policies for the capital to flow,” said Mr. Mather.
The Africa Business Forum, hosted by ECA and its partners, brought together Africa leaders, government representatives, chief executive officers, business and finance leaders, philanthropists and high level representation from the African Union and United Nations system.
The Forum is held on the margins of the 33rd African Union Summit and aims to strengthen partnerships, promote an ongoing dialogue between the African private and public sectors, and foster opportunities for the private sector to contribute towards the collective efforts of key stakeholders in addressing some of the key issues affecting the continent.