25 March 2019

Africa CEO Forum - Experts Make Case for Economic Integration

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Photo: Village Urugwiro/New Times
DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi and Rwanda President Paul Kagame

With a rapid population growth across the continent, Africa is needs to create about 1.7 million jobs to effectively reduce the ever growing population of unemployed youth.

This is among the key subjects of deliberations at the ongoing Africa CEO Forum underway at the Kigali Convection Centre.

Unemployment is increasingly becoming more popular among the youth even as they are becoming better educated and skilled.

The youth account for over 40 per cent of the continent's population.

The continent's failure to create job opportunities for the youth often leads to consequences such as immigration.

Among the approaches to address the challenge, experts suggest, is to further facilitating the private sector to make the most of the free trade opportunities emerging across the continent.

Philippe Le Houérou, the Chief Executive Officer of the International Finance Cooperation said free trade initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area are sure avenues to open up economies to increase job opportunities.

"Africa needs 1.7 million jobs every month. The only way to do this is to develop a striving private sector enabled by free trade opportunities. We need visionaries who can imagine new markets, and pragmatists who can make these new markets a reality," he said

Houérou challenged the market to create markets that are more conducive for countries and emerging sectors of the economy to thrive in especially through regional integration.

"Our main goal is for regional integration to move from being a possibility to being a reality," he said.

Renowned economist Dr. Carlos Lopes said that beyond the infrastructure needs that most perceive to be expensive and time consuming, political will would serve a great deal to reduce cost of doing business.

"We need a lot of technicality and political will to reduce the costs it takes for Africa to do business," Lopes said.

Abdulsamad Rabiu, a Nigerian businessman said that the private sector is willing to support job creation objectives if adequately involved in the process.

Over 1500 delegates from across Africa and beyond are in Kigali for the Africa CEO Summit.

It is a platform where business leaders deliberate on issues affecting them like opportunities for growth, key challenges and pitching to international investors the business opportunities on the continent.

Held annually, the Forum is organised by Jeune Afrique Media Group, Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specialising in the organisation of economic promotion events, and International Finance Cooperation, the lending arm of Word Bank Group.

The Forum has attracted three heads of state including Ethiopia's Sahle-Work Zewde, Togo's Faure Gnassingbé, and Democratic Republic of Congo's Felix Tshisekedi.

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