Inclusive and sustainable growth was the refrain that echoed from all the sessions on the first day of the Africa Rising conference at the Joaquim Chissano Convention Centre in Maputo, Mozambique.
Hosted by the government of Mozambique and the International Monetary Fund the conference seeks “to take stock of Africa’s strong economic performance, its increased resilience to shocks, and the key, ongoing economic policy challenges.”
Christine Lagarde in her opening address noted the role of the International Monetary Fund in providing technical assistance to governments. With five centres in Africa the largest share of capacity activity is devoted to the continent while its sister body the World Bank deals with funding. She also noted three key areas of importance: to “build infrastructure, build institutions and build people”.
President Armando Guebuza said that Mozambique was expecting to see a growth rate of 8% due to following interventions: the consolidation of socio-economic stability, boosting agricultural production and increasing foreign direct investment especially in the extractives sector.
In the first plenary on opportunities and challenges for Sub-Saharan Africa the panel raised a number of interesting points. South Africa's Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said that regional integration is key. While Linah Mohohlo, the Governor of Botswana's central bank said that economic integration must be coupled with realism, noting “you cannot force integration if countries are not ready”. Internal governance issues need to be resolved so that when integration happens participant countries are at a similar point in terms of their policy.
Ncube Mthuli of the African Development Bank pointed out that beneficiation is expensive and often not profitable but can be done in a sustainable way. He makes the example of a Nigerian refinery which rather than waste the gas by flaring, began to capture it and convert it to fertilizer.
The Minister of Planning and Development for Mozambique, Aiuba Cuereneia spoke about the government's efforts to ensure that young girls attend school, especially in the rural areas where families with more than one child tend to send boys to school. With government support programmes families can afford to send girls to school as well. The government also supports child headed households that exist due to the impact of HIV/Aids. Thirty percent of the government consists of women and the advancement of women leads to benefits all countries.