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Statement from the New York Forum AFRICA at the G20 Summit

Statement from the New York Forum AFRICA at the G20 Summit

LIBREVILLE, Gabon, June 26, 2012/ During the build-up to the G20 Summit in Mexico and the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil, over 600 economic, financial and political policymakers met on 8-10 June in Libreville, Gabon, for the first New York Forum AFRICA (http://www.ny-forum-africa.com).

Throughout 30 hours of debates and taskforce meetings, the participants of the New York Forum AFRICA discussed the key issues facing the African continent: the facts behind the African take-off, the different economic models that can thrive there, regional integration, natural resources, agriculture, innovation and entrepreneurship, human capital, the relations between Africa and the United States and China, the energy equation, foreign investment, safety and governance requirements and the role of the next generation of  political and economic policymakers on this continent and the African diaspora.

A number of ideas and initiatives have begun to germinate in the New York Forum AFRICA but the participants have also formulated specific proposals in five key areas:

1. Small and Medium Enterprises

SMEs are levers for a prosperous economy and the driving force for job creation. In most African countries, the role of SMEs and the entrepreneurs behind them should receive greater attention.

  • SMEs are the “missing middle sector” for financial institutions. Innovative approaches and methods are essential to assess credit risks.
  • New major investment programmes must contain a component to predict investment in SMEs or to cooperate with them.
  • A dedicated site for participative funding for African SMEs must be established.
  • Following the example of twinned towns throughout the world, large companies should have “sister company” programmes with a view to forging relations with SMEs and acting as their mentors.
  • An African Cup of Nations for SMEs is needed to identify and reward the achievements of African SMEs.
  • Training and mentoring programmes for SMEs should be introduced and promoted.

2. Regional Integration

Everyone agrees to recognise the importance of greater regional integration in Africa to defend the continent’s interests with a clearer and more confident voice, to encourage free movement of capital, to open job markets and to harmonise and reduce trade barriers. However, progress is still tentative in most African countries. The following proposals have been formulated:

  • To launch regional infrastructure projects to create an integrated framework for growth and to facilitate links between countries.
  • To accelerate initiatives to facilitate visa issuances, particularly for citizens from other African countries.
  • To open up competition in air transport on the African continent to expand the range of transport on offer and to reduce its cost.
  • To create the first African exchange programme to promote socio-cultural integration, following the example of the European Erasmus programme.
  • To invite private sector leaders to propose concerted plans to reduce regulatory burdens and trade barriers.

3. Africa and the rest of the world

The African economic boom should be matched by a stronger presence in the continent’s major political and economic institutions. For its part, Africa must strive to improve its image overseas.

  • Africa, in view of its specific circumstances, is a breeding ground for business creation. It is a place where companies can seize opportunities and develop partnerships.
  • Each African country must continue to assert its identity to worldwide investors. Africa can also promote itself collectively, particularly in the tourism sector.
  • A host programme should be established for international business leaders who are invited to support an African counterpart on-site for several days, and vice versa.

4. Public/private cooperation and the effectiveness of this duo

There is an emerging private sector in many African countries but it is all too often overlooked during public debate. The government must continue to play a strategic role, but it must be linked to the private sector in an inclusive partnership. Proposals include:

  • To establish open and transparent bodies for dialogue on a national level between public authorities and companies so that these companies can make their voices heard.
  • To ensure the arrival of more pan-African organisations.
  • For governments to understand that, in times of instability and insecurity, the best partner to instil confidence and security is the private sector.
  • To establish targeted training programmes, both locally and in partnership with internationally recognised institutions to deal with the shortage of competent technocrats.
  • For companies and governments to work together on supply chains in numerous sectors. Objective: to source and manufacture in Africa if supply and distribution chains have been introduced.

5. Sustainable Development

From an environmental and economic standpoint, Africa has the opportunity to pave a path that differs from that of other continents. Its abundant renewable energy resources, particularly water and solar energy, are fundamental to bridge the gap between energy supply and demand. A sustainable approach is also needed to cope with the pace and scope of urbanisation.

  • For some green technologies, Africa can do more than just catch up; it can become a leader.
  • Large African cities should commit to planting a tree in front of every public building.
  • Africa should focus on sustainable local agricultural models instead of importing methods and standards from other continents.
  • The concept of the global value chain should be assimilated in rural areas to give Africa its rightful place in rural economies.

Although these proposals reflect the significant work and effort yet to be accomplished, the predominant tone at the New York Forum AFRICA was optimistic and resolutely forward-looking.

The community that has grown up around the New York Forum AFRICA is highly motivated and committed to supporting the development of African economies and to help facilitate and guide this development. It also intends to make its counterparts and friends from other continents understand the extraordinary opportunities that a partnership with Africa can provide.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of Richard Attias & Associates.

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