African nations will need to boost output of goods and services and integrate payment systems if they are to take advantage of a new $3.4 trillion economic initiative, according to Akinwunmi Adesina, the head of the African Development Bank (AfDB)
A continental free-trade zone was launched this month in Niger which, if successful, will usher in a new era of development for an area with a population of 1.3 billion people.
It is hoped that the 55-nation African Continental Free Trade Area – the largest bloc since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994 – will help unlock Africa’s long-stymied economic potential by boosting intra-regional trade, strengthening supply chains and spreading expertise.
Adesina said he expected industrial manufacturing capacity in Africa to increase, while financial markets would integrate and food production expands.
“Africa has to have its own industrial capacity … it’s not just about moving raw materials, it’s about value added products,” Adesina told newsmen on the sidelines of a conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Adesola also said African countries need to mobilize more domestic resources, and encourage sovereign wealth and pension funds to invest in infrastructure.
“We brought investors to Africa and in less than 72 hours we mobilized $38.7 billion,” he said. “That tells me that the opportunities are there, if we can get the regulatory and investment environment right.”
He said nations need to provide the right incentives to boost local output while encouraging competition.