Business News of 2014-05-30

Kofi Annan charges Africans to share economic success

African countries have been asked to share their experiences when it comes to prudent management to help address economic challenges facing the continent.

Although most countries like Ghana are faced with rising budget deficit, inflation and weakening local currencies, some have also done well as they continue to post strong economic growth.

In his address at a two day conference in Mozambique, Chair of the African Panel and former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan said although Africa is in an era of enormous opportunity, the continent is still faced with immense risk and challenges.

An increasing number of countries are experiencing rapid growth, but the benefits of this growth have not always been well shared, he noted

He therefore charged African leaders to ensure the wealth is fairly distributed among the population.

“Job creation, particularly for the young, has often been disappointing. This is particularly true of the resource-rich countries that have gained so much from the commodities boom.”

He said the challenge facing most African countries now is whether “we will squander the opportunity before us—allowing jobless growth and inequality to impede real progress. This is vitally important for our young people, who are at the heart of the demographic surge that could double this continent’s population by 2050. Will we invest our natural resource revenue in all of our people? Will we generate jobs and hope for present and future generations”.

Former US president, Bill Clinton, on his part, was worried that although Africa has seen phenomenal growth over the years, there are still some serious deficits in the areas of infrastructure.

“While the region as a whole has experienced real economic growth and increased resilience over the last decade, we all know that more needs to be done to ensure that the prosperity is broadly shared, both across national lines and within every country, so that we have a future of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities,” he said.

Mr. Clinton was optimistic that the conference would “provide a very unique opportunity to leverage the power of creative cooperation to foster that kind of inclusive growth, to improve natural resource management, to increase infrastructure financing and to make sure that Africa will rise together”.

Managing Director of the IMF, Christian Largarde however maintained that the International Monetary Fund is committed to supporting Africa to become the true rising star of the world.

“Africa’s success journey has been truly remarkable. But if the global crisis has taught us anything, it is the importance of making the benefits of growth more broadly shared. When everyone benefits, growth is more durable. Over the years, the IMF has been a close partner in Africa’s journey—including during the crisis. We have listened, we have learned, and we have responded.”

The conference is bringing together over 300 participants including finance and central bank governors across the region, civil society groups, academia, and business leaders on the continent, development partners.

The forum would also discuss the challenges facing the region as it builds upon the strong economic gains made since the 2008 global economic crisis.