The 5th African Economic Conference was opened on October 27, 2010, in Tunis with much optimism. Speaking during a press conference, the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), co-organizers of the conference, underscored that African economies were returning to the path to strong growth after years of global economic crisis.
"The last time there was so much optimism about Africa was in the mid-70s," the AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, said. He however drew attention to two serious threats to Africa's economy: lack of infrastructure which causes shortages in energy production and the adverse effects of climate change. To address the situation, the AfDB's strategy is to continue investing in these two areas. For example, 60% of current Bank investments are directed to infrastructure development, 50% of which goes into energy production.
According to Mr. Kaberuka, "the appetite for Africa is increasing each year." It is this "appetite" which also feeds the optimism by experts for the continent's economic growth. The growing interest of foreign investors, including China, is testimony to the appetite. Speaking during the event, UNECA Executive Secretary, Abdoulie Janneh, added that "if China is willing to invest its resources in infrastructure on the continent, we need to encourage it."
After five years of existence, the African Economic Conference is commonly deemed to be a very positive experience, Messrs. Kaberuka and Janneh said. They underscored the conference's significant contribution to the search for appropriate responses to specific issues raised by growth mechanisms in African countries.