Making Africa a better place to do business was at the centre of discussion during a workshop titled “Improving Africa’s Investment Climate” at the African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings held in Marrakech on May 29. Broken down into two session, distinguished panelists, including Benjamin Mkapa, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, exchanged on how Africa can learn from its successes and mistakes.
Africa is home to seven out of ten of the fastest economies in the world yet trade between African countries is poor across borders and only accounts for 13.5% of the market. To accelerate economic growth throughout the continent, African countries must start doing business together and be exposed to one another. “You need to create exposure across borders and create clubs to build relationships and creates platforms,” said Nkosana Moyo, Founder and Executive Chairman, Mandela Institute for Development Studies.
In that regard, AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, who made a brief appearance at the panel and praised his partnership with the Investment Climate Facility, added: “Together, we are strong. Economic integration is not only something we can do, we have no choice.” He assured that “the Bank is trying to remove the barriers, but governments must take care of the soft problems.”
The urgency of implementing reforms to ensure economic growth was a common observation between panelists. Evelyne Tall, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer, ECOBANK, urged African States to change the manners of operation “and not limit our talks to , but bring it to the field.” African Governments must find ways to work with small businesses, which are the main carriers of the economy, she said.
According to Raju Jadoo FCA, Secretary General Designate at Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the key lies in being open to business and ensuring that the process is easy. While the process of acquiring a work permit used to take three months in Mauritius, today it takes three days. “It sent a strong signal to come and do business with us and this should be an ongoing process,” he said.
While it appears that the World’s Bank ranking system is a powerful starting point for politicians to engage in a discussion, Jadoo advised, “Do not do it for a better rank at the World Bank.Do it to improve the lives of your people.” Promoting a more business-friendly environment is a model which should be applied to other African nations, he said.