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COMESA Heads of State discuss inclusive and sustainable industrialisation at 18th Summit

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“Let’s join hands to push Africa’s transformation agenda in order to realize the continent’s potential as the world’s new growth pole” – Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, AfDB Special Envoy on Gender

The 18th Summit of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Authority of Heads of State opened at the Africa Union Commission Headquarters on Monday, March 30, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, chaired by President Joseph Kabila Kabange of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is also outgoing Chairperson of the COMESA Authority. 

The theme of this year’s Summit is “Inclusive and sustainable industrialization”.

Representing Donald Kaberuka, the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Vice-President and Special Envoy on Gender, underscored the commitment of the 19 Member States to Africa’s Economic Integration agenda.

Focusing on the summit theme, Fraser-Moleketi noted that industrialization is a necessity for Africa’s transformation and intra-regional trade is stronger with value-added products. However very little progress has been registered in Sub-Saharan Africa’s quest to industrialize. “Africa needs reverse the de-industrialization trend towards a transformative agenda that generates employment, boosts intra-regional trade and economic growth,” she said, adding that Africans must have the courage to use all tools, resources and policy instruments at their disposal to do this.

To promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, the continent needs, first of all, to fund its own industrialization process and to pursue innovative ways to mobilize domestic resources to finance its industrialisation and development in general. The continent also needs to exploit opportunities from global and regional value chains as well as promote commodity-based industrialization within its growing internal market, she said.

The AfDB is supporting Africa’s industrialization by investing in infrastructure. Electricity is one of the biggest constraints in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Bank therefore allocates about 60% of its loans and grants to finance infrastructure projects (energy, transportation, ICTs and water). Moreover, through the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) the Bank has scaled up a number of infrastructure projects to bankable stage. It has also made regional integration one of its core operational priorities in the next 10 years to 2022.

Cognizant of the fact that a healthy and growing African private sector is key to industrialization and inclusive growth, the Bank supports the creation of an enabling business climate, and supporting enterprise development including through long-term debt, equity, guarantees, loan syndications and underwriting. The institution is also supporting member countries with capacity building on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to enhance private sector participation in infrastructure projects. The AfDB also supports initiatives in financial sector development to grow Africa’s capital markets, Fraser-Moleketi told the gathering.

“With your support, the AfDB, your Bank, can do more to help Africa realize sustainable and inclusive industrialization for the benefit of the continent’s citizens. Let’s join hands to push Africa’s transformation agenda in order to realize the continent’s potential as the world’s new growth pole,” she concluded.

The Summit, which is also referred to as the Authority, is the supreme policy organ of the COMESA and meets once a year. It is responsible for the general policy direction and control of the performance of the executive functions of the organization. During the Addis Summit, the Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, took over the reins of COMESA Chairmanship from President Kabila.

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