On the occasion of the 9th African Development Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, the African Development Bank spoke with Christian Diguimbaye, Coordinator, Steering Committee of the Joint Secretariat of the tripartite partnership of the African Union Commission, UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank, about the Forum and his views on Africa's development.
What would you say is the outlook for Africa's development and what is your view on the ongoing debates related to fast-tracking investments for Africa's transformation?
Africa's economy is showing good signs and growth is taking root, which is the result of significant improvements to the macroeconomic environment in Africa, as well as more effective production of development policy.
Over the coming years, Africa must undertake robust structural transformations, including new agricultural methods and, more importantly, mass industrialisation in order to create decent jobs for our young people. This industrialisation must be based on adding value to raw materials and building links between the primary sector and the rest of the economy.
Africa needs to participate in the global economy and to adapt to the increasingly globalised processes. In a nutshell, Africa is moving and it should continue to increasingly play its role with respect to industrialization. It needs to maximize the gains that global value chains can offer, ensuring that they have a positive impact on socially inclusive development. African countries can further integrate into global value chains by opening up to trade, targeting regional and emerging markets, modernizing infrastructure, promoting local entrepreneurship, and investing in technical education.
Of course, in recent years we have witnessed the huge development work undertaken by the two institutions, UNECA and AfDB. Africa has made great strides in policy development and at present it looks well prepared to move from principle into practice. The African Development Bank Group and the UNECA have played an essential role in this. Africa begins to see boosting of its industrialisation and transformation efforts, which is critical to the continent's emergence. This meeting in Marrakech is typical example of frank collaboration to help them play the pivotal role in mobilizing resources in financing the sustainable development agenda of Africa. The objective now is how to make the step change and accelerate the continent's development and bring more smiles to the faces of Africans.
AfDB and ECA have been instrumental in providing technical advice on mobilizing domestic resources; stemming illicit financial flows; seeking private capital; searching for new partnerships to leverage resources; and financing to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Speaking of climate, predictions show that climate change in Africa will adversely affect key economic sectors, such as agriculture, water, energy and health. AfDB and ECA played important roles in responding and financing climate change challenges in Africa. The two institutions helped identify new mechanisms for fast-tracking access to funding in order to build resilience to climate change, capitalizing on innovative domestic climate finance opportunities.
AfDB and ECA assisted African countries in developing appropriate policies to attract investment capital, particularly in the areas identified as key areas of growth. The two institutions promote best practices, policies and innovative strategies as well as institutional and governance frameworks to leverage funding opportunities for sustainable development in Africa.
What lessons have you learnt from this meeting?
The meeting was successful, when we refer the quality of debates and the quality of those who were involved. The continent we want to leave to young generations depends on the development actions we take today. I was glad participants also focused on Africa50 Fund, which is an original initiative by Africans worth supporting, especially for its catalytic role to mobilize funds for infrastructure development. Expectations are very high, as reflected in the objectives of African region in strategic areas such as infrastructure, regional integration, private sector development, trade, job creation, governance and climate change. In addition, a goal is to find a vehicle to innovatively fast-track financing that will bring about a change on the continent. African government can explore ways to accelerate the deployment of funding in Africa by focusing more on capital markets, leveraging domestic capital, seeking new investment sources such as equity.