Africa 2018 Forum logo - Photo courtesy of Business for Africa Forum Africa 2018 Forum logo - Photo courtesy of Business for Africa Forum

Leaders highlight free trade, development in Africa 2018

Sun, Dec. 9, 2018
CAIRO - 9 December 2018: The opening session of Africa 2018 Business For Africa and the World kicked off on Sunday. African leaders and officials delivered speeches on free trade, development, and economic integration.

Egypt President

“We are here to resume what we have started to achieve development and prosperity,” President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said.

“At the moment, we look forward to achieve more regional integration and facilitate intra-trade, especially after the African Union launched the African free trade zone in March,” President Sisi stated.

“We need to have cross-border joint investments, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, renewable energy, telecommunication and information technology. We aspire to achieve those goals through joint work below the umbrella of the African Union,” President Sisi stated.

"While chairing the AU, we will build up on what has been achieved. We will work on activating projects that would achieve integrated and sustainable development so that our continent reaches the position it deserves on the global economic map,” President Sisi stressed.

“Egypt achieved a milestone in economic, social, and structural reforms in many sectors as well as creating an favorable environment for foreign and local investments. Those reforms contributed to the improvement of Egypt’s credit rating and economic indicators. That is taking place in parallel to economic reform programs implemented by other African countries,” President Sisi said.

“Reforms must match the citizens needs and the era’s demands including the development of airports, roads, seaports, urban areas, electricity networks, energy, water (facilities and networks), and wastewater (networks). That is in addition to technology and new industries and services related to digital economy. (The reforms) must also be compatible with international efforts deployed to combat climate change, decrease emissions, and preserve our planet,” President Sisi said.

“As that requires huge investments, we invite investors from all around the world to seize the promising opportunities in Africa,” President Sisi added.

The president concluded by affirming the necessity of youth and women empowerment stressing the need to eliminate violence against women in the continent.

Niger President

President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou said that the free trade in Africa will be the largest in the world. “We have to establish peace and security but unfortunately that is not the status co. We need to boost manufacturing as we lie in the bottom when it comes to that sector worldwide. We are currently just a warehouse for natural resources,” Issoufou said.

“We will not be able to invest in and benefit in youth, if they leave resorting to illegal immigration. By lowering tariffs, we are facilitating the movement of goods and people. I salute Afreximbank for providing funds that support trade in the continent. We need economic integration in the continent. We need to combat corruption, and secure financial resources to achieve a manufacturing evolution,” Issoufou said.

“NEPAD should contribute in developing transportation within the continent. We need to integrate youth and women who have problems. We need to back entrepreneurs. We need to pay attention to the digital revolution,” Issoufou said.

“We need to achieve unity among the continent as soon as possible. We liberated the continent from colonization, and ended apartheid in South Africa. If we have achieved African nationalism before, we need to achieve economic African nationalism this century. I call for all African leaders to support the initiative (free African trade agreement) that will be launched in 2019,” Issoufou said.

Sierra Leone President

President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio said he is inspired by entrepreneurs when they talk about their investments. Obstacles facing women should be removed so they would contribute in growth and development, Bio added. “We need to identify tariff obstacles and better integrate with the international economy,” Bio said.

Madagascar President

President of Madagascar highlighted that intra-African trade makes up just 15 percent of the continent’s trade. “It is no longer acceptable to see our youth exposing their lives to danger trying to leave,” Madagascar president said.

African Officials

Minister of Investment and Cooperation Sahar Nasr said that “Africa needs foreign investments worth $150 billion. That means the gap is $90 billion.”

CEO of COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA) Heba Salama said that "the lion share of investments in the continent are owned by foreigners." "Why we don't work together and open communication channels?," Salama questioned.

"The variety in our continent is amazing. We have 3,000 ethnicities, and 2,000 languages," Salama said.

 
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