The African Union chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speaking at the 'Africa We Want' panel discussion organised by the African Development Bank noted that the continent needed to improve on intra-regional trade that was currently estimated to be at 12 per cent.
(READ MORE: Trade corridors in Africa on the mend)
“We are in a situation where the young and growing population which is a great asset we need to utilise,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
She said the unfortunate thing was that Africa was losing her young professionals to the developed economies with professional growth opportunities.
Dlamini-Zuma said regional countries needed to start trading among themselves as current estimates suggests that intra-African trade was at 12 per cent.
(WATCH VIDEO: AfDB debate: Africa's 20-year growth story)
The AU chairperson said the continent was also working toward regional integration and ensuring a prosperous and peaceful continent.
Africa has articulated its vision through the “Agenda 2063 – the Future We Want for Africa” project that aspires for as an integrated, people-cantered, prosperous Africa and at peace with itself.
The Rwandan President Paul Kagame supporting investment in human capital said his country had helped skill its people as it was the country’s greatest resource.
Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala addressing the same meeting said, the current growth experienced by Africa was exclusive as it was leaving a lot of people behind.
“We are leaving a lot of people behind and we need to unpack that. The continent also needs to tap into young people and also start spending on research and innovation,” noted Okonjo-Iweala.
Okonjo-Iweala added that there was need for Africa to reflect on where she was coming from as to make informed decisions about the future.
(WATCH VIDEO: Growth of the Nigerian economy)
The Nigerian Minister added that policies embraced by regional economies over the past decades had yielded positive results.
“When we began to put policies in place that gave us platform to take off and grow as a region however we need to ensure all regional economies are growing.”
“If you are doing well and your neighbours are not doing well, it does not make sense,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
(WATCH VIDEO: AfDB debate: Achieving the AUs' 2063 Agenda)
Youth delegate speaking at the same meeting, Leyla Gozo urged Africa to start imagining the kind of leaders and future they would want to be part of decades from now.
“We should start thinking about models we want to see 50 years from now, we also need strong visionary leaders to lead strong institutions,” she said.
The African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka said it was time for Africa to start implementing all good programmes it has been talking about as the challenge was with implementation.