Leaders vow to make Africa a region of competitiveness and increased well-being

The eighth annual African Economic Conference concluded today
By African Development Bank (AfDB)
Leaders vow to make Africa a region of competitiveness and increased well-being
Leaders vow to make Africa a region of competitiveness and increased well-being

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, October 30, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The eighth annual African Economic Conference concluded today, calling on development and business leaders to turn Africa into a hub of business and development excellence.

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Photo Donald Kaberuka: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/donald-kaberuka-afdb-president.jpg

The conference, jointly organized each year by the African Development Bank (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), brought together 500 decision-makers and development practitioners.

Over the three-day forum, intense discussions were held on issues including the facilitation of trade; the mobility of people, goods and services; political will and government leadership in harmonizing macroeconomic policies; and the role of the private sector in the continent's regional integration.

On the closing day of the conference, the AfDB Chief Economist and Vice-President, Mthuli Ncube, focused on knowledge and capacities, saying knowledge, strong institutions and the management of skills and talents should be at the core of the integration agenda.

He added that political leaders should double their efforts to make sure Africa becomes a tightly integrated growth pole.

Emmanuel Nnadozie, Director, Macro-Economic Policy Division, ECA, recalled the modest beginning of the AEC, which today gathers young African researchers and has become a key platform for knowledge-sharing. He also stressed the importance of the platform for building the capacity for economic analysis on the continent. “We aspire to help young people to be part of that analysis,” he said.

Focusing on the human development impact of integration, Pedro Conceição, Head Economist for UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa, said, “there is a need for mechanism of solidarity within Africa, countries needs to share resources as well as knowledge and other aspect of growth.”

Speaking two days earlier, AfDB President Donald Kaberuka said regional integration has well-known benefits but isn't advancing as quickly as it should.

“Progress to date is encouraging, but highly variable. Where the pace is right, the results are beginning to show: almost everywhere tariffs are no longer the big issue, but non-tariff restrictions remain a real impediment.”

Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary of ECA, said, “Economic transformation will ensure that Africa makes optimal use of its human and natural resources, bringing about a shift in the sectoral composition of its economies, in favour of high productivity sectors, especially manufacturing and modern services.”

African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said: “Leadership on regional integration should therefore happen, not only at the government level, but at all levels of African society and all institutions – whether business, civil society or private sector.”

For his part, the South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan emphasized the need for African countries to assert themselves in the ongoing global power shift.

“Too often we are in these global meetings, but with minor voices and inability to project with a common agenda for what we want to achieve ourselves and in the global agenda,” he said, calling for deeper regional integration.

Gordhan said the continent has an opportunity to offer alternative models of development and can create development models that are appropriate for their respective countries.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

For media information, please contact:

AfDB: Olivia Ndong Obiang, tel. +216 95 99 97 70

ECA: Mercy Wambui, tel. +251 92 10 14 767

UNDP South Africa: Phumza Manqindi, tel. + 27 71 860 8952

About the African Development Bank Group:

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (http://www.afdb.org) is Africa's premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 34 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 53 regional member states.

About ECA:

Headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (http://www.uneca.org) was established in 1958 with the mandate of promoting the economic and social development of its member States, fostering intra-regional integration, and promoting international cooperation for Africa's development.

About UNDP:

UNDP (http://www.undp.org) partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.