Presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Prime Ministers of Cape Verde, and Morocco attend the ninth African Development Forum.

Raising private equity, illicit financial flows, domestic resource mobilisation, new partnerships and climate financing in Africa at the top of the agenda at this year’s flagship event of the ECA

MARRAKESH: The President of the Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, President of Senegal, Macky Sall, as well as the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, José Maria Neves alongside hosts the Executive Secretary of the ECA and the Prime Minister of Morocco officially opened the 9th African Development Forum, an event organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) – the leading think tank and policy advisory body for Africa.

Welcoming the guests, Prime Minister of Morocco, Abdelilah Benkirane, said, “I should like to say how pleased we are that the ninth African Development Forum is being held in Morocco, and how much we appreciate the decision of the ECA to hold this session here, outside its Addis Abbaba head quarters for the first time.”

He added, “Thanks to its great challenge and enormous resources, Africa is emerging as a new pole of global growth. For this trend to be consolidated, however, we need to make sure there is an overhaul of African economies, with a clear shift towards technology-intensive, high value added activities. To rise to this challenge the financial aspect is of great importance.”

Adding to the welcome, ECA Executive Secretary Dr Lopes said, “Excellencies, your combined presence is a testimony of a new trend in Africa where policy thinkers and policy doers are becoming one. We are witnessing a considerable sea change in attitudes and mentalities, with leaders that are reformers and practitioners that are dreamers.

Our ability to strengthen, build and preserve capital in Africa is in line with Africa’s search for innovative financing mechanisms. In recent years, African Governments have taken an active role in changing the investment landscape. Aid is no longer the panacea. This shift is associated with evidence-based policies. Economic activity thrives at the confluence of multiple sources of capital. As we build Africa’s reputation in the global capital market, each success story establishes Africa as a destination for global capital flows. Driving them to transformational projects is what is expected from Governments that are strategic and focused, he added.

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Neves, said, “This invitation honours my country. The themes are very topical and crucial for Cape Verde. Africans are at a cross roads of development, especially small island states which are impacted by climate change. Measures for correcting these impacts are not always taken. I am glad that we are examining innovative methods of mobilising finance to face up to climatic change impacting economies in these critical times.”
“I applaud ECA for the work it has done in this area- especially related to the blue and green economy. Development aid is not enough so we need to mobilise financial resources to implement our economic policies.”

This was reiterated by President Sall, who said, “Traditional solutions in funding development is no longer relevant to the scope and need of the continent. The aspiration of African people is not only to fight poverty, it is to drive sustainable growth that will create employment and prosperity…What is possible in all other continents is possible in Africa.”

President Ouattara, added” I am glad to participate in this Forum. Africa is on the road to being the next emerging continent in the world. However, we need to develop our financial markets. We need innovative financial instruments to do this. I am pleased that regional and national institutions are also looking at developing SMEs and informal sectors. However, I have some concerns. Too many transactions are taking place outside the taxation system. This has to be addressed.”

He cautioned, “In years ahead public sector investments won’t be enough. We need private sector investment, we need private equity, we need PPPs, and we need to tap into remittances. We also need recourse to international sources of funds like Eurobonds. We want sustainable and equitable growth. I have hope in our Continent. The discussions at this forum will help African countries face the challenges.”

This year the Forum is focusing on Innovative Financing for Africa’s Transformation. More specifically the forum will look at ways of mobilising domestic capital. A report by the ECA stated that over $200bn lay in central bank reserves much of which can be used to leverage capital to stimulate investment. More is lost to illicit financial flows than is received in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA).

The discussions are driven to help shape and drive policy. Speaking to the organisers, a strong emphasis was put to ensure that conclusions and recommendations from the Forum will help policy makers and government officials work towards a more efficient way to raise funds and identify new channels of funding for infrastructure, health and education, driving social as well as economic growth.

Lateral thinking, smarter controls regarding tax collection and smarter policies to facilitate investment were all being encouraged to unlock capital and also to drive better accountability and transparency.