“Africa is a continent of the future,” AfDB President Donald Kaberuka tells Africa CEO Forum 2015 in Geneva

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For a decade, Africa has had a steady growth rate of six per cent. But signals to the contrary are emerging, raising doubts about the continuation of this trend and even leading to pessimism about future years on the part of some analysts. For his part, Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), does not share this Afro-pessimism. He made this absolutely clear on Monday, March 16 in Geneva at the opening of the Africa CEO Forum 2015. The high-level forum for the continent’s business leaders, leaders from the world of finance and policy-makers is organized by the Paris-based press group Jeune Afrique, with support from the AfDB.

Speaking during the opening ceremony and during a panel session on the theme of “What growth trajectories for African economies?,” the AfDB President asked whether the good times of growth were coming to an end given the fall in the price of commodities, the inversion of the trend in some emerging countries, and the Ebola crisis in West Africa. 

In response, he cited the financial crisis situation of 2008-2009 and the efforts made by the AfDB and its African partners to address it. This enabled the continent to demonstrate great resilience and even to experience some of the strongest economic growth in the world. It was a way for Kaberuka to say that in the face of any crisis one needs to know how to take the correct measures and reforms. “I am as optimistic today as I was yesterday and will be tomorrow,” he said.

AfDB President is realistic, however. “Nothing is ever guaranteed in advance. In countries with different nuances, everything depends on what the government does or does not do,” he said, adding that countries that made special efforts to ensure political stability, put energy infrastructure in place and remove non-tariff barriers would be the ones to make progress. 

Speaking more specifically about the conditions for strong growth in Africa, Kaberuka emphasised the importance of planning for both investment and policy, of establishing confidence between governments and the people, and supplying energy, without which there could be no growth. 

Alongside Kaberuka, World Bank Vice-President for the Africa Region, Makhtar Diop, and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Carlos Lopes, also participated on the opening day panel. 

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