Many African countries are growing at a very positive pace though there are still challenges with inclusiveness, this is according to Mina Baliamoune, Professor of Economics at the University of Florida.
The comments were made at SWIFT’s African Regional Conference in Cape Town.
Baliamoune also warned that transformation was a long road but said the right ingredients within the region were there.
“Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia are also making inroads,” said Baliamoune.
“The right policies are in place in most of the countries especially in macro-economic policies. There are a lot of improvements in the continent especially if one looks at the World Bank’s Doing Business Index.”
Foreign Direct Investment
Baliamoune said infrastructure remained one of the challenges in most countries which discourage not only foreign direct investments but even local investments.
“Education with a focus on skills should be one area where most governments should invest and this should be coupled with inclusiveness of groups should be at the centre of the African story,” added Baliamoune.
Baliamoune said post-2015; the world will focus on sustainability of the MDGs.
“If we transform Agriculture, for me that will be a huge step towards real transformation in the continent. Skills transfer is critical to ensuring real transformation in the continent.”
Baliamoune said Africa does not lack ideas, the challenge that remains is capital.
2015, a watershed year for Africa
Lyal White from the Gordon Institute of Business Science said structural challenges need to be addressed in the continent.
The Gordon Institute of Business Science said through its dynamic market index it sought to bring some solutions to complex challenges facing Africa growth especially in how certain structures affect growth.
“The data we have done through the index confirms the ‘Africa rising’ narrative, through our narrative we saw some real changes,” added White.
“The real drivers in 2015 will be elections. First in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Burundi which will be a measure of stability in the continent.”
White added that Ebola and terrorism will also shape the growth story in the region.
“Africa has to have a voice going into the future especially in addressing the global development goals. 2015 is a watershed moment for Africa when we should deal with internal dynamics in the continent,” added White.
He added that integration and connectivity were imperative to realising Africa’s growth story saying East Africa is way advanced as far as integration is concerned.
White said for Africa’s growth story to be more realised, some of the tangible steps intended to include Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram and better visa services.
“We need to encourage other Africans to travel, improving dialogue around regional integration and develop a more coherent policy.”
Improving the supply chain
Experts who addressed the meeting called for improved supply chain management systems.
Alain Raes, Chief Executive, EMEA and Chief Executive, Asia Pacific said SWIFT has for the past 16 years seen SWIFT traffic growing at a pace of 16 per cent year-on-year. SWIFT traffic is directly correlated to economic growth, by about 2.5times, so this equates to about 5% economic growth.
He added: “Physical supply chain should be improved alongside the financial market infrastructure, which will help speed trade and payment flows. This means infrastructure should be improved such as air and road ports and harbours.”