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Regional Integration and Inclusive Growth high on AfDB agenda at World Economic Forum for Africa

Event location: 
Cape Town, South Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group will participate in the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA), in Cape Town from 4-6 May, and will bring to bear its unique knowledge and experience of development issues on the continent.

In particular, the AfDB will participate in a session on the changes taking place in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).  The Bank’s temporary relocation agency office is in Tunis.

The session’s theme is: “MENA Update: Implications for Africa.”  The central question will be, how will fast-moving developments in the Middle East and North Africa reshape political agendas on the African continent?

Another significant issue at WEFA will be regional integration, an issue which is high on the AfDB’s agenda.

“Now the world understands you can’t export development to Africa, you have to work with Africa’s own institutions if you want to support the continent in a positive way,” AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, said in a viewpoint in the WFA programme.  The Bank will pursue its agenda on regional integration through participating in the session entitled “Bridging Borders – Fostering Regional Integration.”

Too many tariffs and border controls hamper African trade and growth and impact adversely on the entire continent.

As the introduction to the seminar notes, “Intra-African trade remains low at 10%, compared with 40% for North America and 60% for Western Europe.”  The session will pose such questions as how can political changes and investment in cross-border infrastructure help expedite greater regional infrastructure?

Another session in which the AfDB will take part will ponder “Africa’s Next Chapter”.  Due to strong progress in and across many African countries, people are beginning to predict that Africa’s economy may take off as did China’s 30 years ago and that of India 20 years ago.  The question will be asked, what concrete steps can leaders take to turn this vision into reality?

The Bank will participate in “Africa’s Role in the New Reality,” where it will be noted that developing countries now account for half of all global growth, and that six out of 10 of the fastest growing economies are in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, the benefits of such growth are not shared by all.  The AfDB will participate in the session, “Ensuring Inclusive Growth.”  African growth rates are above average, but most of its economies have suffered from rising inequalities.  The debate will review how to create a more inclusive model of economic growth.

Despite its appeal to travellers, Africa is lagging behind when it comes to its share of tourism receipts.

The continent receives only 3.4% of global tourism and only 5.2% of tourist arrivals.  The session on “Green and Shared Growth in Aviation, Travel and Tourism” will explore ways of redressing the imbalance.

Africa is, however, sharing in the boom in telecommunications; a subject that will be explored in “Mobile Financial Services: Tipping the Scale.”  Africa now has more than half a billion mobile phone users and is one of the fastest growing regions for telecommunications.

The AfDB’s official languages are English and French, so it is appropriate for it to take part in “Insights on Francophone Africa”.  French-speaking Africa accounts for 31 countries more than half of Africa’s nations, and its population is forecast to more than double to 750 million by 2050.  The seminar will tackle the question of what economic changes, political profiles and business issues are shaping Francophone Africa.

The AfDB will also attend the session on Africa’s Women and look at the evidence that “closing gender gaps is shown to be positively correlated with growth and competitiveness.”

Other seminars in which the AfDB will take part include “From Vision to Actions: the Pan-African View”, and “One Region: Africa, Three Challenges.”


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