Africa has a recipe for sustainable growth, following this year’s agreement on a ground-breaking trade deal that promises to soften borders across the continent.
This was the message from the co-chairs of the World Economic Forum on Africa to participants during the closing session of the meeting.
While big challenges remain to translate the promise of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area into jobs
and economic growth on the ground, there is a palpable sense of hope that the components for success are now in place.
“I like to think of this Continental Free Trade Area as the most delicious African dish that can be produced,” said Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre.
“The ingredients have been assembled, the cooks are in the kitchen.
The guests are impatiently waiting for this dish to be served.
“The ‘dish’ is vital for the 200 million young Africans aged 15-24 who need to see the continent move up a gear to a higher level of economic growth,
if they are to secure jobs and contribute to their countries’ prosperity as the workers of the future.”
Sipho Pityana, Chairman of AngloGold Ashanti, said the free trade deal is a “catalyst”.
However, it is now up to political and business leaders to implement the removal of trade barriers
and ensure sufficient investment in infrastructure and logistics to truly accelerate cross-border trade flows.
“We need to soften our borders to enable easy movement,” Pityana said.
“We need leadership that is capable and has the determination to act collaboratively.”
For investors, this is a critical moment – and also a testing time for the claim made
by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the meeting that this will be ‘Africa’s century’.
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