Dakar, Senegal, 26 March 2017 (ECA) - Africa must commit to a roadmap that will allow African Pension Funds to invest in Africa’s own infrastructure projects, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the Nepad Planning and Coordinating Agency, told participants to a high-level meeting on “innovations in infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization” here Sunday.
In a keynote address to the meeting organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Mr. Mayaki said pension funds are relevant to Africa’s development.
He said 28 pension funds out of 52 from 20 countries are currently valued at US$ 1.4 trillion and in the past five years have invested 2.9 percent of their money in infrastructure, which translates to US$ 41.8 billion, of which US$ 37.9 billion was invested in unlisted equity instruments and USD $3.9 billion through infrastructure project bonds or loans with a paltry amount going to Africa.
“Therefore, if Africa is to lead its own industrialisation we must ensure that infrastructure projects are reclassified as an asset class that can attract African pension funds to invest much more into infrastructure projects particularly trans-boundary projects that are in the Programme for Infrastructure development in Africa (PIDA),” Mr. Mayaki said.
Under PIDA, issues like regional road infrastructure, physical and procedural improvements at border crossings, port infrastructure and energy inter-connectors are being addressed with the Regional Economic Communities and at the country level.
Mr. Mayaki said for Africa to industrialize, create jobs and transform its economies, leaders must commit to reforms that will sustain the enabling environment for attracting increased private capital into infrastructure. De-risking Africa, he said, is fundamental.
“Industrialization is the main solution to our main problem on the continent which is job creation especially for the youth in the next 20 to 30 years,” he said.
Mr. Mayaki added that the continent must also increase allocation of public investment in infrastructure needs to be prioritised at the same time as ensuring debt sustainability, adding Africa must also take a strong and uncompromising position on the need for development partners to support the setting up of technical assistance to support early stage infrastructure projects preparation.
“The industrialisation of Africa is at a critical stage and we call for sustained action by African Governments,” said Mr. Mayaki.
Africa can finance its industrialisation, with remittances of over $62 billion annually, illicit financial flows of $50 billion, mineral revenues of $168 billion and a potential stock market capitalisation of $1.3 trillion, he said while noting the ECA’s High Level Panel report on Illicit Financial Flows.
Mr. Mayaki said Africa’s industrialisation and infrastructure development is irreversible, adding the continent must strategically position itself in two ongoing global transformative discussion topics of the 3rd industrial revolution and the new digitalised economy.
The question, he asked, is where does Africa want to fit.
“However, if Africa is to be successful in increasing the number of regional and domestic infrastructure projects and show impact in advancing sustainable inclusive development, wholesale changes are needed in mind-set and perceptions on the issue of investment risk in Africa,” he told the high-level meeting.
Zimbabwe’s Industry Permanent Secretary Mr. Sibanda said his country is promoting value addition as it its economy is agro and mineral-based. He said the southern African region is implementing the SADC Industrialization Strategy that aims to reduce the export of unprocessed agricultural and mineral products as it seeks to industrialize to transform its economies.
The strategy is anchored on three pillars; industrialization as the champion of economic and technological transformation; competitiveness as an active process to move from comparative advantage to competitive advantage; and regional integration and geography as the context for industrial development and economic prosperity.
In closing the meeting, ECOSOC President, Fredrick Shava, emphasized the importance of Africa diversifying and adding value to its produce, increased agricultural productivity and strengthening value chains, a theme he said would be carried over in the next meeting in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe in April ahead of ECOSOC’s special meeting in New York in May.
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