Better governance is needed to help Africa grow more food, tap its huge economic potential, ease problems linked to the mass migration to cities, and deal with continued war and conflict.
Those themes dominated the Friends of Europe Africa Summit on the challenges for ensuring resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth on the continent.
Africa contains seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, and more than half of Africans are expected to live in cities by 2050. If harnessed by adequate policies, that urbanisation is the key to growth and development, bringing about considerable opportunities for structural transformation. Cities can help advance economic development through higher agricultural productivity, industrialisation, services stimulated by the growth of the middle class, and foreign direct investment in urban corridors. They can also promote social development through safer and inclusive urban housing and robust social safety nets.
At the same time, the pivotal role of young “agripreneurs” must be recognised. So far, their potential remains largely untapped, but rural development will be central to the quantum leap in the rate of progress required for the poorest countries to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Rural development is essential, not only for poverty eradication, employment generation and economic development, but also for sustainable urbanisation.
“It is time for our leaders to stop just talking,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (2009-2017). “What we need is action. We need dedicated political leaders who are there to serve the people, not to exploit them. They should be dedicated to the welfare of the people they are supposed to lead.”
Africa is also home to over two-thirds of the world’s least-developed countries (LDCs) and half of fragile and conflict-affected States (FCS). To ensure a more prosperous future for millions of Africans, it is essential to break the vicious circle of poverty and conflict.
“We want to create incentives for peace and stability, but we know that conflict drives investors away”, said Neil Gregory, Head of Thought Leadership at the International Finance Corporation (IFC). “We really want to understand better how we can help businesses grow in difficult environments. We have to reduce the level of risk for investors who have little understanding or knowledge of these markets.”
IMAGE CREDIT: CC / Flickr – Xevi V; jbdodane; CIAT; titoOnz/Bigstock.com