The fifth edition of the Investing in Africa Forum in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, opened on Tuesday with the host country’s president emphasising that Africa “must not be condemned to stagnation”.
This year’s event is themed on Leveraging partnerships for economic diversification and jobs creation in African economies.
The forum was organised jointly by the Government of the Republic of the Congo, the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese Development Bank, and the World Bank Group.
The opening address by His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, expressed the importance of investment in critical infrastructure.
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Nguesso said: "Investing in Africa remains one of the keys to the development of the African continent, which should not be condemned to stagnation. Africa, therefore, needs infrastructure, initiatives and services that are prerequisites for laying the foundations for its development.
"Otherwise, how else can we develop our countries without electricity, without viable channels and means of communication, without information and communication technologies? But, above all, how can we access all these services with our limited resources?”
The opening ceremony was also attended by presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Faustin Archange Touadéra of Central African Republic, Joao Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço of Angola, Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission.
MoUs and South-South cooperation support investing in Africa
The forum resulted in the signing of several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on structuring projects in sectors as diverse as energy, small and medium enterprises development, regional economic integration, infrastructure and environment.
Vice Minister Xu Hongcai of China's Ministry of Finance said: "Amid unprecedented changes in the world today, China will use the Investing in Africa Forum as a platform and work closely with African countries to strengthen collaboration in development strategy and project financing, share development experience and implement the eight actions agreed at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.”
He added: “China will also work with the World Bank and other international financial institutions to develop tripartite cooperation with Africa, promote South-South cooperation and boost diversified and sustainable development in Africa."
The forum focused on five key areas identified by African countries as their main development priorities, namely:
- human capital development;
- digital economy;
- improving the business climate;
- industrialisation and global value chains; and
- climate-smart energy solutions.
These themes are closely linked to the World Bank Group's strategy for Africa, which aims to accelerate poverty reduction and shared prosperity.
Addressing the barriers to investment
“Barriers to progress can only be brought down when African countries are in the lead and global partners are at the table,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank’s vice-president for the Africa Region. “We are committed to working closely with our partners in Africa to attract more sustainable private sector investment that benefits Africans first and foremost.”
The forum highlights many opportunities between non-African and African companies, as well as between non-African companies and African governments through viable public-private partnerships. It also addresses investment constraints and promotes sound macroeconomic management and reforms to improve the business climate in African countries.
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Economic growth in Africa
“Private sector investment can be a driving force in Africa’s development, especially when the necessary public policies are in place to channel these investments in the right direction”, said Sérgio Pimenta, vice-president for Middle East and Africa, International Finance Corporation (IFC). “IFC works with private investors in Africa to ensure that their resources and expertise help create jobs, spark innovation and promote inclusive growth.”