Africa Competitiveness Report (ACR) 2013 – Connecting Africa’s Markets in a Sustainable Way

Africa Competitiveness Report

The Africa Competitiveness Report 2013 indicates that Africa’s growth should be complemented by gains in competitiveness since many African countries are ranked among the least competitive economies in the world. Although there are important disparities across the continent, low levels of regional integration and infrastructure deficit have been identified as the main barriers to improved productivity, economic diversification, private sector development and spatial inclusion. These challenges are particularly prominent in landlocked countries and should be prioritized by Africa’s policy-makers.

Event Description

The African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Economic Forum (the Forum), and the World Bank (WB) have been involved in a joint program to biennially prepare an “Africa Competitiveness Report” (ACR) for the last six years.   

The first ACR was launched in June 2007 at the World Economic Forum Africa event in Cape Town, the second in June 2009, and the third in May 2011.  As of the third report, the Africa Commission of Denmark joined the three founding organizations as a partner in the preparation of the report.  

The ACR 2013 comes out at a time of growing international attention on Africa as an investment destination, and increasing talk of an African economic renaissance. This increased optimism is being spurred on by a past decade of strong growth.  However, this growth remains unevenly spread across the region, and the relatively short time period has not yet allowed for a convergence in living standards to those observed in other rapidly-growing developing regions. More generally, going forward, the question remains as to how sustainable and inclusive Africa’s growth will be. Many efforts are still needed for African economies to diversify and enhance their competitiveness, so that they can absorb the 10 million new entrants to the labour force every year. In this context, this report assesses the extent to which African economies have laid the foundations and made the necessary investment for sustained growth.

The 2013 ACR focuses on the potential for regional integration in Africa as a stepping stone for building economies of scale, increasing competition and fostering economic diversification. Three interlinked topics that are critical to improving Africa’s competitiveness at the present juncture: trade, regional integration and infrastructure and growth corridors, are discussed in the report. The aim is to further the understanding of the benefits of regional integration and the enabling environment type of policies around infrastructure for connecting Africa’s markets in a sustainable way. Based on lessons of experience, the report provides recommendations on how to address the key challenges to competitiveness highlighted in the report.

During this side event, the report’s findings will be discussed by the main partnering institutions using a Davos-style format. Then the discussion will be opened to contributions from key stakeholders including, African policy-makers, the business community and international development partners on the benefits of infrastructure development, competitiveness and the enabling environment type of policies around infrastructure that will facilitate the connecting of Africa’s markets in a sustainable way.

This event will also serve as a platform for exchange of ideas and recommendations on how to address the key challenges to Africa’s competitiveness highlighted in the report.

Infant and maternal mortality is down by a half. Life expectancy is up from 40 to 60 years. There are more children in school than at any time in recent history. Seven out of 10 Africans own a mobile phone. Absolute poverty is on the decline.

Donald Kaberuka

AfDB President

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