Johannesburg, 24/10/2011 - The 10 year anniversary of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) this year offers a platform for deeper reflection says Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) Chief Executive Officer (CEO). “It is the occasion for stock-taking of our wok in the past and a look into the future while working on the present.” Mayaki was speaking at the 2011 NEPAD Ambassadors and Business Executives Gala Dinner held on October 19, 2011 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.
The interactive working dinner event was attended by African ambassadors, leading African business executives, civil society personalities as well as Nordic and G20 ambassadors. This year’s theme was ‘the role of effective partnerships in the public and private sectors towards achieving sustainable economic development in the face of changing leadership dynamics in Africa.’
Mayaki emphasised the importance of partnerships for development in Africa. He said that development in Africa requires strategic partnerships at three levels, namely partnership among Africans, partnership between African countries and sub-regions; and partnership with the rest of the world.
According to Stanley Subramoney, Chairman of the NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF) and panel member at the event, Africa’s challenge is in its inability to compete in a global landscape due to its aged infrastructure. However “while the capital needed to drive infrastructure development in Africa is massive, this provides good business opportunities for private sector to get involved in smart strategic partnerships with the public sector. Africa is the growth continent,” Subramoney, noted.
Pat Pillai —who helped facilitate panel and table discussions also asked pressing questions around the North-South corridor. The North-South corridor is a major proposal to upgrade and extend land transport links (road and rail) in Southern Africa. This is part of the group of seven projects prioritised by NEPAD.
According to Dr Cassius Lubisi from the presidency, a recent assessment on the North-South corridor showed that there is 260km’s of road projects that are ready for funding, the estimated cost for this totals USD 551 million. Currently there are no private investors in the project. “If you look at Africa and its rail and road infrastructure you notice that rail moves from countries to ports. The purpose is to export to other countries outside of Africa which established this trend of Africa not trading with itself,” Lubisi said.
Ruth Kagia, Country Director at the World Bank was also part of the panel. She admitted that public-private partnerships made better sense now more than ever because of the various changes that had taken place on the continent. “African leaders no longer see themselves as victims of history and there is now a sense of honest introspection,” she said.
Absa was sponsoring the gala dinner for a second year. According to Jonathan de La Pasture, Head of Loan Products at Absa, the event is intrinsically linked to Absa’s own ambitions on the continent. “Africa is the next business opportunity and with this potential comes a need and Absa as well as Barclays are well positioned to fulfil these needs. This also provides us with an opportunity to respond and work with government and communities to deliver economic growth,” La Pasture added.
“Africa is ready for business and is 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,” Mayaki concluded.
Note to the editor
The NEPAD Agency facilitates and coordinates development programmes and projects, pushing for partnerships, resource mobilisation, research and knowledge management. NEPAD (www.nepad.org) is both a vision and a policy framework for Africa as the African Union’s (AU) development agenda. The NEPAD Business Foundation is the private sector coordination institution for NEPAD facilitating private to public sector interaction.
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