All 54 countries in Africa must consistently maintain a seven percent growth rate for the next 40-50 years to eradicate poverty and reach high-income status.
This was contained in a speech delivered by the Group President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, while addressing African economic leaders on the theme – Key Actions to Achieving Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa at the 2023 AfDB Annual Meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
He stated that there is a clear need for African leaders to accelerate growth to improve the living standards of the people.
Also, he added that it is significant to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the 2023 African Union agenda.
Adesina said that although achieving this goal might be difficult, it is not impossible for the continent.
On the AfDB outlook report, he said the average gross domestic product growth for the continent decreased from 4.8 per cent in 2021 to 3.8 per cent in 2022.
“And this decline is across the board. 31 out of 54 countries in Africa hosted a weaker growth rate in 2022 relative to the previous year.
“However, we anticipate growth to increase to 4 percent in 2023 and to accelerate further to 4.3 percent in 2024. Yet, we must recognise the fluctuation in growth that has defined our parts,’’ he said.
Adesina cautioned that some countries fell back during challenging times after experiencing remarkable growth rates. Hence, we must learn from this to ensure sustained growth and prosperity.
Furthermore, he said, ”We acknowledge that our continent had its share of difficulties, growth-stagnation, decline and even catastrophic growth and these statistics remind us of the work that still needs to be done.
“We face an increasingly complex and uncertain world. Health, finance, socio-economic and environmental shocks threaten our progress towards the UN SDGs, AU Agenda 2063 and all development goals high-five priorities.”
He added that some challenges faced by the continent, such as COVID-19, conflict and climate change, exposed the vulnerability of the health system and the fragility of Africa’s growth pillars.
“Especially our high dependency on commodity exports and external finance including debt, remittances, foreign direct investment and development assistant.
“As we acknowledge the challenges before us, we must recognise the incredible potential and opportunities that Africa possesses,” he added.
According to him, this demographic shift offers us the prospect of a demographic dividend, a huge labour force to support Africa’s quest for industrialisation and lower production costs.
He said young people are Africa’s greatest assets and should be invested in. We must equip them with the skills and opportunities they need to drive the continent forward.
On implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, Adesina said it would be a game changer because it could increase trade by 52 per cent.
“It will stimulate intra-Africa trade by up to $7 billion per year and it will reduce imports from outside the continent by $10 billion.
“Our industrial exports will be boosted by up to $45 billion and $21 billion, respectively and these figures reflect a brighter future for trade and economic growth ratio among African countries,’’ he said.
He urged economies on the continent to harness the natural resources that Africa was endowed with, as it could generate significant returns, drive the youth and foster job creation.
Adesina said the studies served as a vital road map to guide Africa towards the future where each African nation could achieve an annual GDP growth rate of seven to 10 per cent over the next 40 years.
He said, however, that growth alone was not enough and Africa must address issues of good and prosperous governance, inequality and poverty on the continent.
Adesina said, “ We have a responsibility to facilitate green prosperous conformation, diversified growth sources and innovatively champion the need to embrace climate change and support environmental sustainability.
“We must create an Africa that is both economically strengthened, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable.
“Today’s event marks a significant milestone in our journey as the study consortiums present their emerging findings to this distinguished audience.
“We eagerly await the final report, which will be shared by heads of state and governments.”
The AfDB president said that as we moved forward, our feedback and input were important in helping Africa shape its unique development path.
“One that finds the right balance between a colony, social and environmental dimension while also respecting our diverse environment, institution and aspiration
“Let us move forward together, united in our mission to build the Africa we want. Let us open a new era of shared prosperity and let us transform our continent into a beacon of hope, progress and opportunity for all Africa,” Adeshina stated.