The President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, joined leaders from African countries and G20 members in Berlin on Monday to discuss opportunities to enhance the business environment and increase investment in Africa.
A common refrain on the opening day of the two-day conference - "G20 Africa Partnership - Investing in a Common Future" - hosted by Germany under its G20 Presidency was that Africa's time has come and opportunities for investment on the continent abound.
In a session on the G20 Compact with Africa, which aims to increase investment opportunities, push for a more sustainable infrastructure as well as create jobs and employment in African countries, the Finance Ministers from Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia shared their views on opportunities for long-term stability and growth, alongside the Heads of the African Development Bank, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
"The Compact with Africa is very important because of the changing lens through which we are looking at Africa," said Adesina, who applauded German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her leadership in putting Africa at the top of the G20 agenda. "We are no longer looking at Africa through the perspective of just development. We are looking at Africa as an investment destination, and unlocking its huge potential. This is a great shift in mindset. Africa is a growth frontier."
Adesina outlined the huge growth potential of the continent, in agriculture as a business, and in the processing of cocoa and cotton and not just exporting raw materials. "The secret of the wealth of nations is very clear: the nations that are poor are the ones that export raw materials, and the nations that are rich are the ones that actually add value. We think this is very critical to change the narrative."
The Compact is a commitment by African countries to improve conditions for private investment. In cooperation with international organisations and bilateral partners, the participating African countries will develop tailor-made measures and instruments designed to make them more attractive to investors. Five countries have already committed to join: Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Rwanda. They are now being joined by Ghana and Ethiopia.
Day 1 of the G20 Africa partnership conference closed with international organisations and bilateral partners applauding Germany's leadership and pledging their support for the Compact in the years to come.
A few hours earlier, President Adesina participated in the launch of the African Economic Outlook 2017 alongside Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Thomas Silberhorn, German Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); and Claver Gatete, Rwandan Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, among other distinguished panelists.
Published by the African Development Bank, in partnership with the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the 2017 edition of the African Economic Outlook focuses on unlocking the potential of entrepreneurship for Africa's industrialization.
The new AEO report needs to be translated into action as soon as possible, said Adesina, who underscored the importance of securing a future for African youth.
"We want an Africa that is able to grow fast, that is able to create quality jobs, that is able to create hope for the young people on the continent, supported by investments to be able to turn their dreams into reality," he said. "I don't believe the future of Africa lies in Europe. It don't believe that the future of Africa lies at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea either.
"Let's work together to make Africa blossom. It's in the interest of the world for this to happen for Africa."