Experts from different countries are seeking ways of deepening domestic capital markets, strengthening the pipeline of bankable projects, leveraging the vast pension fund resources of the continent and solidifying inter-continental cooperation to spur development.
Meeting at the conference of African Ministers of Finance in Dakar, Senegal, easy routes to doing business between African countries have featured prominently.
The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa said the Africa Continental Free Trade agreement (AfCFTA) is a solution to intra-continental cross-border trade barriers.
African Ministers of Finance , Planning and Economic Development amongst them Ministers, Delegates, top officials of the Executive Commission for Africa, high-level and experienced panellists from governments, academia, the private sector, Central Bank Governors from Africa and beyond all took to the rostrum with one objective, to effect change and spur development in Africa.
At the official opening ceremony this May 16, 2022 in Dakar – Senegal, the Senegalese Head of State, Macky Sall, current Chairman of the African Union (AU) who chaired the event, stressed in his opening speech on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
President Sall reiterated his call for an end to this conflict, which has severe impact on the world and in particular, Africa.
Speaking to the packed full hall of the Abdou Diouf International de Conference Centre (CICAD), the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe said « We need a change in the world financial architecture and we need to ensure that the changes to the system are in Africa’s interest not against it. These changes may not take place tomorrow but the discussions need to take place today. »
Also speaking at the opening ceremony were the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Michel Camdessus, the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Rebeca Grynspan.
The Minister of Finance and Economy, Senegal Amadou Hott in his remarks highlighted the importance of effective capital market which is key to economic and industrial growth yet the international finance architecture is not making things easier for Africa.
“The cost of capital is a case in point, where African sovereigns are paying up to 200 base points more than their counterparts with a similar risk profile. How do we get the right price because risk ratings are affected by subjective criteria?” said Amadou Hott
His words were mirrored by the President of West African Bank for Development (BOAD), Serge Ekoué who added that “Our commercial banks, our development banks, our corporate bodies, they are all undercapitalised. That is a key issue. So, unless we solve the issue of capital, we won’t find solutions when it comes to capital rising”
The official ceremony was preceded by a meeting of the Committee of Experts held from May 11 to 13, during which participants discussed issues related to the theme: “Financing Africa’s recovery: breaking new ground” and some statutory issues of the ECA.
Other side events were also held on May 14 and 15 to address issues related to health, infrastructure, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), education, climate action and domestic resource mobilization in support of an inclusive and sustainable recovery for African countries in order to attain the AU’s agenda 2063 of living no one behind
The UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) flagship Conference of Ministers is the most important gathering of policy makers and experts to discuss issues related to Africa’s development.