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Our future lies in regional integration. We need resources to move forward – say Central Africa Governors

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Bank Group Governors for Central Africa came to attend a consultative meeting during which they had fruitful discussions with the senior management

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, February 27, 2019/ — “Your presence at the Bank’s headquarters matters. So is your voice. It is encouraging hearing you,” says Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), addressing the institution’s Governors for Central Africa, on 26 February in Abidjan.

Like their West Africa counterparts on Monday, Bank Group Governors for Central Africa came to attend a consultative meeting during which they had fruitful discussions with the senior management. They came from all parts of the central African region: Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and Equatorial Guinea, to review national and regional projects and, with the Bank’s leaders, to lay the foundations for further development of their region.

African Development Bank Vice-President and Chief Economist, Célestin Monga gave an economic overview of the continent and more specifically of Central Africa, highlighting the main challenges to inclusive growth, peace and security, sound macroeconomic management and stability, the development and strengthening of basic infrastructure, and effective regional integration. He also emphasised the need for the States of the region to diversify their economies through agribusiness, fisheries and livestock. Gabon’s Governor, Hilaire Machima echoed this view: “This policy is already bearing fruit, since the government of my country has been working for several years on processing wood within the country. There are currently some 80 wood-processing companies in Gabon.”

The Bank’s Director General for Central Africa, Ousmane Doré, spoke of the significant impact Bank-financed projects have on people’s lives.  “The Bank’s commitments in the region totalled $13 billion in 2018, through 531 operations in all,” he said, adding that 2019 would be a year of even deeper cooperation with the region and citing several major projects financed by the Bank. Thanks to the African Development Fund, four of the seven countries of the region – Cameroon, the CAR, Republic of Congo, and Chad – have been connected by a road corridor in under ten years. These links have enabled a fivefold reduction in transport costs between production and consumption areas. Another example is the programme to facilitate transport between Douala (Cameroon), Bangui (CAR) and Ndjamena (Chad), allowing trade to develop in the area and outside the CEMAC zone, and further improving the efficiency of the transport logistics chain.

In the energy sector, two projects have come to fruition, one in Kribi in Cameroon and the other, the interconnection of power grids between the CAR and the DRC. The ‘Central African Backbone’ fibre optic project in Cameroon, DRC and CAR aims to improve connectivity, e-banking and the information provision on markets and the business climate. The Bank has also financed a project to improve the drinking water supply in the city of Libreville, Gabon. During the Africa Investment Forum last year, the African Development Bank, Africa50 and other partners concluded a $500 million funding agreement for the construction of the first road-rail bridge to connect two Congolese neighbours, Republic of Congo, and the DRC.

To highlight the importance to the Bank of a general capital increase, Vice-President for Finance, Swazi Tshabalala cast her mind back to the strategic focus of the first Governors’ meeting held in Rome last year. “The Bank’s ‘High 5’ priorities are at the very heart of Africa’s development programme,” she reiterated.

The Governors unanimously gave the African Development Bank their support. “We have a Bank that innovates. We need significant resources to take Africa and our region forward,” said the Bank Governor for Cameroun, Alamine Ousmane Mey. Bank Governor for Equatorial Guinea, Lucas Abaga Nchama stressed the continent’s enormous development needs, saying that “the [Bank’s] capital increase is important. Our future lies in regional integration”. The Bank Governor for Chad, Issa Doubragne [MOU1] added, “We have every reason to be hopeful.”  Concluding, President Adesina said: We will continue to work hard for the Africa you want.

Africa speaks

Regional integration remains low, according to African Regional Integration Index (ARI)

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The Index, known as ARII, was set up to monitor and evaluate the status of economic integration among African countries and provides a basis for member States to track their progress

MARRAKESH, Morocco, March 24, 2019/ — The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) marks a momentous milestone for Africa but preliminary findings of the upcoming 2019 African Regional Integration Index, released at the on-going Conference of Ministers in Morocco on Saturday, indicate that regional integration in Africa remains low.

The Index, known as ARII, was set up to monitor and evaluate the status of economic integration among African countries and provides a basis for member States to track their progress.

The findings reveal that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is the most integrated region in terms of trade, with South Africa as the most integrated country on the continent.

In the five areas that were analysed – trade integration, regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people and macroeconomic integration – South Africa topped the ranking; with South Sudan as the least integrated mainly because of its modest performance in regional infrastructure and financial integration.

Meanwhile, integration in services, contributed more than 53% of the continent’s GDP, but ratification of the protocol on the free movement of people has been slow, despite the 2016 launch of the Common Electronic Biometric African Passport, and the AU Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. The Continent’s large infrastructure deficit remains a major hindrance to intra-regional trade.

“It is up to Africans themselves to ensure that the initiative benefits them through hard work and efficient implementation of the mechanisms of the CFTA,” says David Luke, Co-ordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, Regional Integration and Trade Division of Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) (www.UNECA.org).

Leila Mokadem, Country Manager and Resident Representative in Morocco for the African Development Bank (AfDB) added that despite the “tremendous” political support for the AfCTFA, there are still major challenges ahead in terms of implementation and pushing the agenda forward to meet the goal of increasing intra-African trade to 25% by 2023 from between 15% and 18% currently. She cited weak productive capacity in Africa, high production costs, large infrastructure deficits and other challenges that affected Africa’s competitiveness. This is compounded by the number of small markets and 16 landlocked countries. “We cannot gloss over the challenges, but it is important to underscore the fact that it cannot be business as usual if Africa is to progress.”

The final ARII and the accompanying Assessing Regional Integration in Africa IX Report will be released later in the year.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

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Africa speaks

Immployment Connect By Zandile Dube

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Due to varying factors, black girls and women have been struggling to break into the corporate world, arguably more than the average aspiring professional across the world. Some common factors include the lack of access to inside information on the desired career path from practicing professionals. Also, culturally, a lot of families have held the belief that only hard work will propel one into a future they desire however, in a progressive world like ours, it is evident that it requires more than studying to successfully debut as professionals into the desired field.

Some families are also simply unaware of the other opportunities available outside of the classroom, as they did not have them for themselves, therefore they are unable to expose their children to unfamiliar experiences. This results in underwhelming CVs, causing a loss for both the individuals and the industries they were aiming for as they mostly are hard-workers who were merely unfortunate.

In the worst-case scenario, families may not be supportive of a woman going into male-dominated industries, therefore they may withdraw their support financially, leaving her with little to no access to other extra-curriculum activities that may boost her chances at future employment. These are realities for a number of black, female aspiring professionals.

We believe that success is best prepared for early on, therefore the objective of Immployment Connect is to encourage black females by bridging the gap between the opportunities made available to them and those available to the rest of the world who may be of more privilege than them. We intend to do this by connecting professionals with, for instance, students on a mentorship basis at no cost.

Also Read The power of rejection | Zoussi Ley

This will enable professional relationships to be established and allow the mentees some insight on their desired industry, we believe this will be a fulfilling experience for the mentors too to be able to impart their knowledge onto eager individuals. Such a program will open doors that some of our mentees would have only worked hard and hoped for, without actually believing it could be their reality.On a larger scale, our program will help the corporate world by increasing diversity, which almost always equates to progress as different experiences/ backgrounds offer a fresh perspective to any situation.

This program was founded by Zandile Dube who migrated to Australia from Zimbabwe at the age of 16/17. Soon after she had enrolled in the Bachelor of Business and Commerce – Accounting and finance, she was told by the people she came across that as a Black Woman in Australia she wouldn’t be able to secure a corporate job especially her having an African accent. This motivated her to get a job in the industry as soon as she could.

In her first year in the Uninversity, she decided to also partake Vocational studies through ARC (part of TAFE) where she was put on work placement at a boutique firm called Pride Advisory in Sydney. During her work placement she worked hard and was able to secure fulltime employment at the end of her first year of university.

However, she quickly noticed that she was one of the few black women in Corporate Australia and there was a significant underrepresentation of the female African society within the Australian workforce. Therefore, she has taken an initiative to bridge the gap by providing African females access to a number of highly qualified and motivated professionals that are already making an impact in the industry.

 

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Zandile Dube

 

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Africa speaks

African Development Bank President Adesina confident of “very promising future” for continent

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The Bank expects growth of 4% this year and 4.1% in 2020

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, February 5, 2019/ — “The future of our continent is looking very promising indeed,” African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org) President Akinwumi Adesina declared in the opening words of his address to diplomats  at a lunch organised today, Tuesday, in Abidjan.

Adesina referred to the Bank’s recent flagship publication, the African Economic Outlook 2019 (https://bit.ly/2yXn4pr), which noted that the recovery in commodity prices is driving domestic demand and infrastructure investment, while real Africa’s GDP continued to improve in 2018 to 4.1%. The Bank expects growth of 4% this year and 4.1% in 2020.

Economic opportunities in Africa are generating considerable interest globally. For example, the agreement in March 2018 establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will create the largest free trade area in the world. The CFTA will provide an unprecedented framework with the capacity to increase trade by at least 100% in Africa.

“The African Development Bank is at the centre of the actions taken to ensure the success of the continental free-trade area. We have invested over one billion dollars to support the financing of trade in Africa,” Adesina said.

The Bank, whose triple-A rating with stable outlook has been reconfirmed by the four major global rating agencies, has also invested $1 billion in Afreximbank, including $650 million in credit lines for trade finance and $350 million in insurance.

The free movement of people on the continent is another important driver of development. “We need to break down all barriers that impede the free movement of people across the continent, especially that of workers, because this is vital for promoting investment,” Adesina said.

In its report on intra-African investment (https://bit.ly/2zvCvYC), the African Development Bank emphasised the significant increase incross-border investments – $12 billion last year, up from $2 billion in 2010. Under the G20 Compact with Africa, the Bank has worked with the World Bank and the IMF to provide assistance to African countries, particularly to improve company regulations and the business environment.

“Africa will not develop through aid, but through investment”, said Adesina. This is whythe African Development Bank, with its partners, launched the highly successful Africa Investment Forum (AIF) (https://AfricaInvestmentForum.com), in Johannesburg, South Africa last November, securing investment interest in 49 deals across Africa worth over $38 billion in just two days.

The African Development Bank continues to invest in infrastructure to connect countries and improve their competitiveness. It has provided $16 million to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the preparation of feasibility studies for the Lagos-Abidjan corridor. It has also funded 1000 kilometres of road between Addis Ababa and Mombasa, which has increased trade fivefold between Ethiopia and Kenya (https://bit.ly/2DUkzZT).

The Bank was the lead lender for the construction of the historic Senegambia bridge linking Gambia and Senegal (https://bit.ly/2HTYIG4), which opened on 21 January 2019. And the Bank’s investment portfolio in Côte d’Ivoire has tripled in the last three years, reaching $1.8 billion in 2018.

The Bank is taking a lead role in the “Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation” (TAAT) initiative, which seeks to accelerate the dissemination of agricultural technologies throughout the continent, not only to improve yields, but also to fight against the consequences of global warming and against pests, such as Fall Armyworm. “The crucial point for the economic development of Africa is that we have to radically transform our agriculture,” Adesina declared.

The Bank’s High 5( https://www.AfDB.org/en/the-high-5/) priorities are already producing significant impacts across the continent,” said the Bank’s President.In 2018, 4.5 million people were connected to electrical grids.Nearly 20 million more people have access to improved agricultural technologies.Industrial investments in the private sector have benefited 1.1 million people.Some 14 million people have gained access to improved transport services, while another 8 million people have benefited from better access to water and sanitation.These impacts encourage the Bank to redouble its support for economic and social development in Africa.

“We need to achieve universal access to electricity. We need to help Africa to become self-sufficient in food. We need to achieve a fully integrated continent. We need to industrialize Africa and improve the quality of life for its people,” Adesina concluded.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

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