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AfDB, Government of Rwanda and development partners discuss role of natural resources in Africa’s structural transformation

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The African Development Bank, the Government of Rwanda and development partners launched the 2013 African Economic Outlook (AEO) on November 6 in Kigali, underscoring the role of Africa’s agricultural, mining and energy resources in supporting the continent’s economic growth and advancements in human development. The Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme, AEO partner institutions alongside the AfDB and the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), also participated in the launch. The Government of Rwanda was represented by the Government Chief Economist, Leonard Rugwabiza, the Bank by its Resident Representative, Negatu Makonnen.

The discussions emphasized that Africa’s main short-term challenge is to consolidate stable macroeconomic conditions in the face of a more volatile economic environment. It was noted that the continent’s economic outlook for 2013 and 2014 remains favourable, an indication of its healthy resilience to internal and external shocks and its role as a growth pole in an ailing global economy.

However, participants reiterated the fact that past growth has been accompanied by insufficient poverty reduction, persisting unemployment, increased income inequalities and in some countries, deteriorating levels of health and education.

“Harnessing the continent’s vast natural resources presents prospects for promoting structural transformation and inclusive growth,” said Makonnen. However, he cautioned that African economies today face the formidable challenge of creating gainful employment opportunities for millions of people not just by sustaining the pace of growth, but also by making it more inclusive. “Thus, structural transformation is fundamental to meeting this challenge and Africa’s abundant natural resource wealth can provide the base,” he added.

Rugwabiza echoed the AEO’s findings that Rwanda’s economy has demonstrated resilience in the midst of a weak global economy and suspension of budget support disbursements in 2012. He added that “the design and effective implementation of sound macroeconomic policies during the past 10 years have greatly contributed to the country’s resilience.” He singled out three key policy imperatives being pursued by his Government to achieve the target 11.5% average real GDP growth during the period 2013-2018: (i) support to improvements in agriculture productivity; (ii) fiscal consolidation aimed at expanding the tax base and allocating adequate resources to infrastructure development; and (iii) promoting job creation through expansion of private sector credit and skills development.

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