The Conversation with African Heads of State session chaired by Director of Communications at African Development Bank Group Victor Oladokun. Image: GCIS
The 2019 installment of Africa Investment Forum kicked off with pitches from five African heads of state who asked the private sector to invest in major projects in their respective countries.
The forum held at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa will run from 11 to 13 November.
The Conversation with African Heads of State discussion was moderated by Director of Communications at African Development Bank Group, Victor Oladokun.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s counterparts in the conversation were Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Mozambique Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário and President Nana Akufo-Addo from Ghana.
Ramaphosa said the forum had become a marketplace that attracts investment into the continent.
“We want to have a broader continental look because Africa’s time has come for investments. And we want serious investors who will look at the whole continent and particularise it and look at various countries for investment opportunities. And we’ve got great ones,” Ramaphosa said.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country is also looking to expand its agro-processing and automotive sectors. Image: GCIS
He said South Africa is the tourism capital of investment in the continent. “When God created Africa he spent quite a lot of time on South Africa to make South Africa as attractive as it is,” he explained to an audience who were in stitches following the comment.
He said South Africa is currently focusing on pulling investment into infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and to re-industrialise the automotive and agro-processing sectors.
“Those are the areas that we are focusing on that we believe can attract a whole lot of investments. And they do mutate into a number of other sub-sectors, ” Ramaphosa said.
Pitches from other heads of state
Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Image: Africa Investment Forum (CBNC Africa free to air feed)
President Kagame said Rwanda has concentrated on creating a conducive business environment through predictable governance systems.
He said Rwanda also benefited from the high growth rate of the East African economy, the fastest growing region on the continent. In Rwanda they are looking for investment into agri-business hubs that will help them irrigate between 15-20 hectares.
“We have also created Kigali Innovation City. Where technology companies and institutions of learning come together with financial services to allow start-up companies to develop and grow,” he said.
The Kigali Innovation Fund is another measure they have created to make Rwanda an investment destination. In this they got support from the African Development Bank.
“They have already put in money and government is putting money. We want private people to step in and invest as well to help these start-ups that are growing,” Kagame explained.
Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo. Image: Africa Investment Forum (CBNC Africa free to air feed)
Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo thanked Ramaphosa for hosting the forum again. He also took the opportunity to congratulate the Springboks for their success in Japan. “I’m equally grateful to the champions, the rugby world champions,” Akufo-Addo said.
Akufo-Addo said he carried a big responsibility as the sole representative of his region in the conversation, “I have also to bat for West Africa a little bit.”
He endorsed Ramaphosa’s call for a continental framework.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area is a major step forward for us. And we have found an overwhelming majority, I think, plus unanimity on the continent in adhering to its terms. Ghana has been privileged to be the host of its secretariat,” Akufo-Addo said.
He said initiatives were ongoing to ensure that ACFTA becomes a reality because it will change many dynamics in the continent’s economic situation.
“It’s extremely important when we are having this kind of meeting that we have this immediate future in mind. When our economies hopefully will be locked into a common market,” Akufo-Addo said.
He said fiscal prudence has seen Ghana recover from a large deficit as it manages imbalances in the economy and has led to a drop in inflation.
Akufo-Addo said it was important for his country to maintain discipline in managing public finances.
“We are resisting the temptation in an election year which is about to go to turn on the taps. We are hoping that the work we have done will take us through,” Akufo-Addo said.
He said these interventions were the reason Ghana’s economy was one of the fastest growing in the world. In 2018 Ghana’s economy grew by a still impressive 6.7% even though this was slower than the 8.1% seen in 2017.
The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook predicts that the growth rate will climb to 8.8%.
Akufo-Addo said an expanding economy presents opportunities infrastructure is a very important area of focus. Ghana is looking for investment in its roads, rail network and airport infrastructure.
Ghana is already reaping rewards from participating in the 2018 installment of the forum. “An important initiative that we launched last year which is bearing fruit is the Accra SkyTrain Project in which South African investors are taking a very keen interest,” Akufo-Addo said.
Mozambique Prime Minister Carlos Rosário. Image: Africa Investment Forum (CBNC Africa free to air feed)
Mozambique Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário said his country wanted to attract investment into the country’s bountiful natural resources.
“I believe we also need to discuss the oil sector. We are knocking in agriculture, in energy, in gas exploitation. In Mozambique these are all very important sectors. In my country the economy is in fact quite diversified,” Rosário said.
Rosário put added an emphasis on Mozambique’s major liquified natural gas (LNG) projects. In June Anadarko Petroleum injected $20 billion in foreign direct investment into the sector.
Anadarko’s investment in the Mozambique LNG project is the largest sanction ever in sub-Saharan Africa oil and gas according to a Reuters report.
Rosário said they want gas exploitation in Mozambique to be done sustainably and in an environmentally friendly manner.
“We do not want to cause any environmental issues or problems in our gas exploitation activities. And this is why we’ve committed to protect the environment.”