Statement by Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency to the 2011 Annual African Ambassadors and Business Executives Gala Dinner
19 October 2011, Midrand, South Africa
Representative of the South African Presidency;
Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Distinguished Business Executives;
Chairperson and Chief Executive, NEPAD Business Foundation;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
At the turn of the New Millennium, Africa made a historic choice for change. Inspired by African Leaders, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development was adopted in Lusaka, Zambia. NEPAD thus, became the strategic blueprint for Africa’s transformation and flagship programme of the African Union.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of NEPAD. It is a landmark and offers the platform for deeper reflection. It is the occasion for stock-taking of manifested actions of the past and a glance at the future while working on the present.
The key issues for this reflection are important. How effective has NEPAD engaged Africans in this decade of change? How far did we go in attaining the NEPAD core objectives? What are the remaining challenges and gaps? And in the language of business - what is the NEPAD brand today?
After 10 years, it is good to re-emphasize that the “P” in NEPAD symbolizes true Partnership for development. NEPAD accords top priority to partnership at 3 levels: Partnership amongst Africans; Partnership between African countries and sub-regions; and Partnership with the rest of the world.
In this configuration, the role of the Private Sector is fundamental. Notably, promoting inclusive growth and generating wealth for Africans is the business of the business sector!
Excellencies and Business Leaders;
Without doubt, Africa is making progress. The Continent has great promise. Since 2000, our economy has been growing. The current growth rate is higher than many OECD countries, despite the impact of the global financial and economic crisis.
But this is not enough. NEPAD at inception set a target of 7 per cent average growth for the Continent. This is yet to be achieved. We need to attain this growth level for change to be effective and meaningful. The growth pattern should become more inclusive and broad based to address structural defects including poverty. Indeed, NEPAD has accompanied African governments and the private sector on this journey towards policy reforms aimed at competitiveness and improvements in the business environment.
Africa is open for real business and a ready market for genuine investors! Obviously, we are building strong financial and banking institutions with consolidated assets and regional network. Therefore, the viability of both domestic and foreign direct investments is of great consequence. It is important for our governments to strongly embrace Public-Private Partnerships and give more attention to raising domestic resources for development. In fact, this improved four-fold between 2002 and 2008. So, we are on the right track to mobilizing domestic savings and public revenues.
In 2006, NEPAD in partnership with the OECD, developed the Africa Investment Initiative as a policy reform instrument. NEPAD also inspired the creation of the Investment Climate Facility based in Tanzania to address the gaps in business climate and policy design.
On a broader scale, stimulating increased investments in Infrastructure development can turn Africa around. For us, Infrastructure is the entry point to achieve Regional Integration. In this respect, NEPAD was motivated by our Leaders to deliver more on Infrastructure through the endorsement of the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative. This programme is the brainchild of South African President, His Excellency Jacob Zuma, and is aimed at accelerating the implementation of integrated regional infrastructure. Based on the African Union Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and the African Action Plan, NEPAD is contributing to implementing the approved 7 regional projects as model for concrete delivery.
We are also promoting regional markets to boost agricultural production and ensure food security and sovereignty. Equally, it is essential that the new Africa promotes the empowerment of women and job creation especially for the youth.
The paradox in Africa’s development is a major concern. Africa must change the paradigm of being one of the regions with the highest density of abundant mineral and agricultural resources in the world, yet remaining the poorest. With innovation, appropriate technology exchanges and effective management of natural resources, driven by a robust private sector, we can achieve our development goals. Likewise, the potential of economies of scale in regional cooperation should be tapped into by finding regional solutions for challenges that cannot be solved nationally.
Therefore, Africa should embrace the beyond Aid approach to development. The effective utilization of both domestic and external resources will serve the Continent better in the determination to exit from aid dependency. We need to strengthen partnerships with emerging economies where the private sector in the last two decades has become remarkable global players.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
The anniversary presents NEPAD itself with renewed dynamism to contribute to the knowledge base in changing the development landscape in Africa. A new window of opportunity and prospects is presented by the South for self-reliance and sustainable development. We should strongly engage the emerging economic powerhouses of China, Brazil and India in developing the capacity for Africa’s private sector. With a fast growing market like Africa, NEPAD is working to support the Continent become the new growth pole.
We are promoting coalition building arrangements among African stakeholders including the private sector. Today, the NEPAD Agency is proud to be associated with NEPAD inspired business groups in various African sub-regions, including the NEPAD Business Foundation here in South Africa.
Of significance is that NEPAD is at the forefront of putting Africa back on the global map and development discourse. In this vanguard, from 2001, NEPAD through the African Union has been advancing Africa’s priorities as our Leaders have engaged the G8 in building a value-driven partnership based on equality, mutual accountability and responsibility. We are also supporting African countries in partnering the G20 particularly based on the key fundamentals of the Seoul Consensus of Shared Growth and Development, especially in the areas of regional food reserves, risk management and Infrastructure.
On an institutional basis, NEPAD is better structured today to move Africa from poverty to prosperity in the next decades. In 2010, the NEPAD Secretariat was restructured to become the NEPAD Agency. A key outcome of the integration of NEPAD into the African Union, we now serve as the technical body of the Union. Our core function is to coordinate and facilitate the implementation of priority regional programmes and projects. We call on the African private sector to invest in NEPAD and build stronger inter-actions for mutual benefit.
In advancing Africa’s development, multi-stakeholder forward looking approaches will be the greatest asset. Here, the private sector is the key actor. NEPAD will encourage Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), intra-African mentorships and joint-venture initiatives. This will improve opportunities for local companies to compete in a highly technology-driven global economy. We will promote skills development programmes for industry professionals and motivate our countries to embrace the green economy.
Evidently, we need to bring all actors into the development process. As we share knowledge and lessons on Africa’s development experiences, NEPAD remains a relevant and viable vehicle for the future. NEPAD is a multi-level strategy, applicable to both the public and private sectors.
Good governance in an atmosphere of peace and security is vital to sustaining Africa’s change. The delivery of the necessary public goods through the innovative African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is an excellent model of the commitment to governance reforms. Promoting better corporate governance is a positive indication of the advantages of responsible investments. Likewise, the role of the developmental state in building of capacities for effective institutions is equally essential.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
In conclusion, I am grateful to the Government of South Africa for the consistent support to NEPAD over the past ten years. I appreciate the NEPAD Business Foundation and ABSA Bank, for jointly hosting this Gala Dinner annually for the past 3 years. This Forum is exclusive as it brings together top public officials, diplomats and business leaders towards the NEPAD agenda. We are proud to be associated with this platform.
Overall, Africa’s transformation requires the support of all stakeholders. NEPAD stands today, as the living commitment to the African renewal. It is a testimony to making development more effective. On our part, we remain dedicated to implement the sector strategies developed in the past ten years.
Together with Business, our future is promising. The NEPAD brand will be globally recognized, the goodwill for Africa’s development will be strengthened. And most importantly, the Private sector will become the locomotive for transformation.
I thank you.