Dar es Salaam — Meaningful collaboration between governments and the private sector would help Africa's economy to quickly recover from the Covid-19, leaders have proposed.
Uniting the continent's economies by swiftly implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would be one of the best ways to unite the continent's economies for a brighter future.
This was evident during a dialogue that brought together various influential leaders in business and government.
The United Bank for Africa (UBA) a Pan-African financial institution offering banking services to more than twenty million customers globally, and with footprint in 20 African countries and a presence in the United Kingdom, the USA and France organised the symposium from Lagos to celebrate Africa Day 2020.
The virtual event was live via Zoom, and was watched by thousands of people across the world.
Titled 'Growth, Jobs, Sustainable Development Amidst a Global Pandemic,' the event's panellists included Liberian President George Weah; US Senator and Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr Chris Coons; President of the Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof Okey Oramah; President of Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben and the Secretary General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, Ambassador Georges Chicoti.
Also in attendance were Achim Steiner from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and former African Development Bank President, Donald Kaberuka - among others.
UBA chairman Tony Elumelu moderated the event.
"This is the time for us to deal with the situation. This is not the time for finger-pointing, but for collaborative efforts by governments and organisations, to fight the pandemic globally...Africa requires a large stimulus pack-age, and we need long-term solutions to prevent a vicious cycle of debt," he said.
Prof Oramah specifically urged African governments to implement the AfCFTA as a way of bringing the continent's economies together for a brighter future.
"The priority of governments should be put on implementing the AfCFTA without delay... We have to put away all the reservations and build all supply chains across Africa and start a dynamic growth for the con-tinent. If we do not do that, we will remain perpetual commodity export-ers," he said.
He said that, with the Covid-19, there was no market for Africa's com-modities, or some metals."The AfCTA is the answer and we must waste no time... That is how we will be able to build the infrastructure, the manufacturing base that would connect us so that whenever we are confronted with such challenges, we will defeat them.
That way, we will create bigger banks and bigger conti-nental institutions," he said.
Africa has a population of 1.2 billion and a $2.5 trillion GDP.
However, the largest development financial institu-tion on the continent has less than $80 billion in assets - which is less than five percent of the continent's GDP.
This compares poorly with the Asian Development Bank which has total assets of about $200 billion.
He said in 2006, Africa's total debt was around $200 billion. But, it has grown to about $1 trillion. The rise in debts, he said, also started with the commodity crisis of 2015 which saw many African countries running into current account and fiscal deficits, forcing them to go back to borrowing.
"In short, the debt has the commod-ity origin. To go around it, you need to create a situation whereby you no lon-ger depend on commodities," he said.