Africa must consistently maintain a seven per cent growth rate for the next four to five decades to eradicate poverty and reach a high income status.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Dr kinwumi Adesina, said this while speaking on the Key Action to Achieving Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa at the on-going 2023 AfDB Annual Meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
According to him, the need for accelerating growth to improve the leaving standards and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) and the African Union (AU) agenda 2023 is clear.
Adesina said although achieving this goal might be difficult, it was however not impossible for the continent.
On the AfDB outlook report, he said the average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the continent slowed from 4.8 per cent in 2021 to 3.8 per cent in 2022.
“And this decline is across the board. 31 out of 54 countries in Africa hosted weaker growth rate in 2022 relative to the previous year.
“However, we anticipate growth increase to four per cent in 2023 and to accelerate further to 4.3 per cent in 2024. Yet we must recognise the fluctuation in growth that has defined our parts,” he said.
Adesina recalled that some countries experienced a remarkable growth rate only to fall back during challenging times, stating that we must learn from this to ensure sustained growth and prosperity.
”We acknowledge that our continent had its share of difficulties, growth-stagnation, decline and even catastrophic-growth and these statistics reminds us of the work that still needs to be done.
“We face an increasingly complex and uncertain world. Health, finance, social-economic and environmental shocks threaten our progress towards the UN SDGs, AU Agenda 2063 and all development goals high-five priorities.
“The challenges of COVID-19, conflict and climate change exposed the vulnerability of our health system and the fragility of Africa growth pillars.
“Especially our high dependency on commodity exports and external finance including debt, remittances, foreign direct investment and development assistant.”
The president said as we acknowledge the challenges before us, we must recognise the incredible potential and opportunities that Africa possess.
According to him, this demographic shift offers us the prospect of demographic dividend, a huge labour force to support Africa’s quest for industrialisation and lower production cost.
He said young people are Africa’s greatest assets and should be invested in. We must equip them with the skills and opportunities they need to drive the continent forward.
On implementation of Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Adesina said it would be a game changer because it could increase trade by 52 per cent.
“It will stimulate intra-Africa trade by up to 7 billion dollars per year and it will reduce import from outside the continent by 10billion dollars.
“Our industrial export will be boosted by up to 45 billion dollars and 21 billion dollars respectively and these figures reflect a brighter future for trade and economic growth ratio among African countries,” he said.
He urged economies on the continent to harness the natural resources which Africa was endowed with as it could generate significant returns, drive the youth and foster job creation.
Adesina said the studies served as a vital road map to guide Africa towards the future where each African nation could achieve an annual GDP growth rate of seven to ten per cent over the next 40 years.
He however said that growth alone was not enough and Africa must address issues of good and prosperous governance, inequality and poverty on the continent.
Adesina said: “We have a responsibility to facilitate green prosperous conformation, diversified growth sources and innovatively champion the need to embrace climate change and support environmental sustainability.
“We must create an Africa that is both economically strengthened, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable.
Today’s event marks a significant milestone in our journey as the study consortiums present their emerging findings to these distinguished audience.
“We eagerly await the final report which will be shared by heads of states and governments.
The AfDB president said as we moved forward our feedback and input were important in helping Africa shape its unique development path.
“One that finds the right balance between a colony, social and environmental dimension why also respecting our diverse environment, institution and aspiration
“Let us move forward together, united in our mission to build the Africa we want. Let us open a new era of shared prosperity and let us transform our continent into a beacon of hope, progress and opportunity for all Africa.
Our correspondent reports that the AfDB 2023 annual meeting which started on May 22 ends Friday.