Inclusive and transformative growth, youth employment and private sector development dominated the “Africa Economic Outlook” session at the World Economic Forum on Africa on Friday, June 6 in Cape Town.
Participating on the panel, African Development Bank’s President Donald Kaberuka said Africa was experiencing strong economic growth, but must now turn it into economic transformation that will be able to deliver jobs for the youth. There are about 12 million youth entering Africa’s labour market each year, according to the AfDB.
“Once economies are transforming, we shall create jobs, we shall create opportunities, and the middle class will be coming up. So the challenge for Africa is how to keep economic growth strong and sustained,” he said.
President Kaberuka cited the energy sector as key in driving Africa’s growth, given that the continent had plenty of clean energy sources. “How do we get financing to ensure that all our countries, from South to North can fund this gap? It is about strong policies, strong regulators who are independent, and then we are going to see money pouring into this sector, which all of us need for human development and to power our economies,” he stated.
Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice-President for Africa, reiterated that sound policies in the sector had attracted private producers, thereby increasing energy production. “Good policies attract money. When Nigeria started changing policies in its energy sector, it started to have independent power producers come in,” he said.
Policies and financing go together. On this, Rwanda’s Finance Minister Claver Gatete regretted that the focus had been on creating the environment for international businesses to invest in Africa rather than on lowering the cost of doing business in order to attract private-public partnership. “This is a key area that can bring resources whether from the region or internationally; lowering the cost of borrowing by the private sector to invest together with government,” he noted.
Other panelists included Antony Jenkins, Barclays Group Chief Executive; and Nhlanhla Musa Nene, South Africa’s Minister of Finance.