Africa governments challenged to focus on private-sector led growth

Written By: Claire Wanja
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Africa will only achieve the much-needed growth and open the continent for investment if it properly taps the power of the private sector, a continental investment conference bringing together leading business leaders has been told.

“Africa has to move away from state-led economic development.  Many African states seem to focus on the idea that government needs to be at the forefront of industry,” Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance, Republic of South Africa, told the ongoing 5th  African Legal Network (ALN) Africa Investment Conference in Dubai.

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“The next decade for Africa must be driven by private sector interest and innovation around product because I think the rest of the elements will follow.”

Prominent Kenyan business leaders speaking at the conference include Dr. James Mwangi, CEO Equity Group and Chairman Kenya Vision 2030; Ife Osaga-Ondondo, Head of Legal, Sub-Saharan Africa, Google; Khalil Anjarwalla, Managing Director, African Cotton Industries and Jesse Zigmund, General Counsel, M-KOPA Solar.

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“We are seeing a tremendous amount of reform and good business across the continent. I anticipate that we are going to see Africa growing economically,” said Dr. Cheick Diarra, Former Prime Minister of Mali and ALN Chairman.

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Africa has always been commodity rich, and investment has long been focused around this sector, for example extraction and oil. Because of this, the African GDP has traditionally been linked to commodity prices.

However, with a rapidly growing population – the population of Africa is expected to double by 2045 and again double to over 4 billion by the turn of the century – and accompanying urbanisation, several new opportunities are beginning to spring up for investors.

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Emerging from this urbanisation, Africa is now seeing a marked increase in investment in previously non-traditional sectors, with figures from FDI Intelligence showing sectors such as construction ($37bn), logistics ($12.8bn), power ($12.2bn), as well as internet and telephony penetration and increasing banking and financial institution penetration beginning to overtake mining and extraction.

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