7 November 2018

Africa: Regional Integration Key to Africa's Investment

Merge forces and plough back into the African continent - this was President Cyril Ramaphosa's message to delegates at the Africa Investment Forum.

"African integration is key to attracting investment and growing our respective economies," said President Ramaphosa.

The President was speaking at the African Development Bank's Africa Investment Forum (AIF) welcome dinner on Wednesday, where he delivered the keynote address.

The dinner preceded the inaugural session of the three-day forum. The forum, which kicked off on Wednesday, has been described by Gauteng Premier David Makhura as the 'Davos of Africa'.

It provides an open platform to multilateral institutions, governments and the private sector to improve the pipeline of projects that can transform the continent.

Ahead of the welcome dinner, delegates engaged in panel discussions on ways to accelerate the continent's growth.

Addressing the business, government and captains of industry, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said the forum was about transactions and closing deals.

Backing Adesina, President Ramaphosa rallied delegates to participate with zest and invest in Africa.

With a youthful and tech-savvy population, vast resources and diverse investment opportunities across a range of sectors such as agriculture, mining, telecoms and energy, President Ramaphosa said Africa is ideally positioned to drive global growth.

"The pace with which new technologies have been embraced by the young people of this continent suggests that Africa has the potential to effectively seize the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution," said the President.

For South Africa, the forum comes on the back of the Investment Conference, which forms South Africa's investment drive aimed to secure $100 billion worth of investment.

In July this year, South Africa joined 44 other countries in signing the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. The agreement will pave the way for greater inter-regional trade, increased investment and faster industrialisation.

Address barriers to investment

President Ramaphosa urged his counterparts from Ethiopia, Ghana and Cameroon, who were in attendance, to provide fertile ground for investment into Africa.

"We must confront some of the perceptions that exist about investing in African countries.

"There are concerns that barriers to entry are high, regulatory red tape is overly burdensome, and governance challenges make investing in African economies risky," said President Ramaphosa.

Infrastructure gateway to Africa's growth

As President Ramaphosa puts it, the forum is about more than just discussing ways to eradicate obstacles to investment - but rather about ensuring that infrastructure investment, which is seen as the gateway to the continent's growth, is achieved.

He urged governments and the private sector to form relationships of mutual benefit.

This, he said, was key to secure the $130 billion needed each year to meet Africa's infrastructure requirements.

One such investment was made on Wednesday. The African Development Bank and Africa50 signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo to develop and finance the first road-rail bridge project linking their capitals - Kinshasa and Brazzaville.

Under the terms of the framework agreement, the two governments mandated Africa50 and the African Development Bank to develop the project as a public private partnership, the bank will act as the debt provider under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States. As the main developer, Africa50 will lead the project development, help select a strategic partner, and provide equity for construction.

On Thursday, leaders from across the continent will carry forward discussions on concrete actions being undertaken in the respective countries to create a business-friendly environment that catalyses investment.

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