President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has emphasized that for Africa's economic development to become a sustained reality, the private sector, as an engine of growth, must drive the economy, saying, "No government can create the number of jobs that are needed to employ the thousands of citizens, who join the work force every year."
President Sirleaf stressed that a major impediment to growth in Africa is scarcity in infrastructure. She named the absence of reliable and affordable electricity, poor conditions of primary road networks and deteriorated or non-existent port facilities as major constraints to private sector value addition, investment and overall national development.
The Liberian leader spoke recently in Lilongwe, Malawi during a public lecture on "Africa's Economic Development: The Road Ahead" as part of a three-day State Visit there. In attendance, at the Bingu Conference Centre, were high-ranking officials of the Government of Malawi, members of the Liberian delegation, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and other guests.
She said that consolidating peace and security stimulates sustainable economic development and comprehensive growth in any country. Citing the positive transformation of Africa in the last decade, President Sirleaf noted that peace and stability has created the necessary condition for investment and economic development and social transformation.
She underscored that throughout the continent, agriculture remains the key sector of the economy for job creation, poverty reduction, food security and income generation.
According to her, because the vast majority of people depend on agriculture for their livelihood, Africa must continue to promote heavy public and private sector investment to ensure food security. "It is through agriculture that we can deliver inclusive economic growth, long-term poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability," said the Liberian leader.
Providing some statistics on the critical role women of the continent play in the agriculture sector, President Sirleaf said African women comprise 70 percent of sub-Saharan African agricultural workers and 80 percent of those involved in the food processing chain, terming them as "the face of agriculture."
Earlier, the President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, in her opening remarks, said she took "great pride in introducing this great African leader," while assuring the audience that it "could not have a better person than my sister President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to speak to us on this timely topic."