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AfricaMoney | August 19, 2017

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Will Africa ever get its act together?

Will Africa ever get its act together?

For Mauritius, widely regarded as the gateway to Africa, it is essential that the emerging continent should get its act together, and soon. The African Economic Conference (AEC) to be held in Johannesburg from October 28-30, addresses the core of the quest for the continent’s economic revolution. (Image: afdb.org)

For Mauritius, the tiny island nation widely regarded as the gateway to Africa, it is essential that the emerging continent should get its act together, and soon.

Regional Integration in Africa, the theme of this year’s African Economic Conference (AEC) to be held in Johannesburg from October 28-30, is at the very core of the quest for the continent’s economic revolution.

The AEC is an annual business intelligence forum organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to discuss the continent’s major economic development challenges.

Government leaders, policy-makers, researchers and development practitioners from Africa and other parts of the world form part of the conference. Discussions this year will focus on how the continent of 54 disparate states can overcome its fragmentation and pool resources for industrialization and productive growth.

Africa’s stunted growth has mostly been attributed to fragmentation, which leads to the absence of a large economic space that can only be formed by mutual cooperation between neighbouring states. Such a large economic zone would provide the benefits of economies of scale – a primary condition for widespread economic development.

For Sub-Saharan Africa, the building economies of scale would depend on the availability of energy, transportation, communication and social infrastructure, water resource management, fiscal convergence and labour mobility, among others, that feature prominently on the agenda of the African Economic Conference.

The 2013 Africa Competitiveness Report on the theme “Connecting Africa’s Markets in a Sustainable Way,” makes this point more clearly. According to the report, jointly produced by the AfDB, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, regional integration can help Africa to raise competitiveness, diversify its economic base and create enough jobs for its young, fast-urbanizing population.

And, job creation is an arena where a lot remains to be done given Africa’s geo-political configuration and demographics. Africa is the world’s second-largest continent (30.2 million km²) with a population of over one billion people, half of whom are below 20 years of age.

The continent’s 54 sovereign states and nine territories are shaped and impacted by emerging global megatrends that present challenges and opportunities for development and sustainable growth.

This is where forums such as the AEC can step in with a knowledge base that ensures Africa is properly integrated in the global economy.

Source: African Development Bank (AfDB)

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