Addis Ababa, January 30, 2018 (ECA) – Africa is working tirelessly to get policy and legislative conditions right to ease the business environment and attract more foreign direct investment, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Africa Business and Investment Forum that was organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), Mr. Desalegn said as a result, foreign direct investment flows to the continent were growing with a number of African economies now showing resilience to various internal and external shocks.
“Africa has been on the investment radar of many multinationals for decades now as witnessed by increased investment in infrastructure, agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism, to mention but a few. Still Africa’s market and resource potential remains untapped,” he said, adding the business environment in Ethiopia had improved remarkably in recent years.
He said his government is seeking to employ policies and strategies for positioning the country as an attractive investment destination for productive investors.
The Prime Minister applauded the ECA and the CCA for organizing the Forum, which he said will contribute to the enrichment of policy issues regarding transforming Africa through public-private partnerships in various sectors.
For his part, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said there was need for more private sector investment in power projects on the continent.
He was speaking during a round table discussion on the need to increase power supply in Africa through cross border networks.
"Africa has huge potential for renewable power generation that the private sector should invest in," he said, adding the continent was full of opportunities, not just challenges.
The leaders attended different roundtables which focused on African trade and diversification; increasing power supply; the business of agriculture, creating successful agribusiness; and advancing public private partnerships on non-communicable diseases.
Senegal's Macky Sall urged African governments to work together with the private sector to ensure the continent can deliver low cost renewable energy that can be accessed by all.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda commended ECA and its partners for "this effort to draw business leaders into this conversation about public-private sector investment in Africa".
"This is long overdue and I trust that it will become a regular event during our Summits," he added.
Mr. Kagame called for closer collaboration between the private sector and African governments to increase economic opportunity and entrepreneurship on the continent.
Uganda's Yoweri Museveni urged American companies to invest in Africa. He said the continent was ripe for investment, adding African governments have and continue to address investors’ concerns to make it easier for them to bring their money to the continent.
Africa, he said, is a ready market, especially with the growing purchasing power of its people.
President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, said he was positive about the Continental Free Trade Area’s success.
“African Heads of State are fully committed and engaged in the CFTA process,” said Mr. Issoufou, adding Africa was the future. It is the continent on which you can count.
Mr. Issoufou said the business forum was a great opportunity for Africa to inform investors about the benefits of the CFTA and progress made thus far.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, who attended the roundtable on the business of agriculture, said bold and coordinated efforts were needed as Africa moves from the old way of doing agriculture to new ways of farming.
He said the continent should invest in new technologies, research and education to ensure agriculture becomes cool for the youth and in the process ensure food security.
Mr. Nyusi said political will and vision was crucial if Africa is to scale up agribusiness on the continent through enabling policies that can link agriculture and trade thereby achieving sustainable equitable growth on the continent.
African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki hailed the ECA and the CCA for organizing the business forum, adding the continent was doing all it can to improve the ease of doing business for the benefit of its people.
Millennium Challenge Corporation Acting Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Nash, said the U.S. is committed to working with African nations “to realize the promise of a more peaceful, more productive, more prosperous world”.
“From promoting trade and economic progress to countering violent extremism, U.S. and Africa share a number of common interests,” he said, adding strategic investments in critical sectors can help the poorest people rise out of poverty – advancing security, stability and prosperity across Africa.
“As we all know, the continent is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and will be home to one quarter of the world’s consumers by 2030. U.S. companies and investors are increasingly aware of the continent’s economic potential,” said Mr. Nash.
“We value our partnership with countries across Africa, and we respect the people of Africa,” he said.
The forum brought together over 240 African and U.S. public and private sector leaders on the margins of the AU Summit to discuss specific benchmarks and measures that can be implemented to support public-private-sector-led growth in Africa.
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