Posted by: Isaac Bruce | May 31, 2011

Africa Union – Unending Possibilities

“For many, many years, we have been told that Africa has a bright future & that future is now. This is Africa’s time” –  Ms. Ezekwesili (Vice President, World Bank)

May 25, 2011 Africa offers endless possibilities to investors, the World Bank said Wednesday. Investors going into Africa today are taking advantage of the continents endless possibilities, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region Obiageli Ezekwesili told investors and African ambassadors accredited to the United States in a speech delivered as part of celebrations marking Africa Day. Observed each year on May 25, the day commemorates the founding in 1963 of the Organization of African Unity, the forerunner organization of the African Union.

Ms Ezekwesili noted that at a time of major global economic turmoil when even rich economies need bailouts, debt buy-backs and IMF funding to stay afloat, Africa is poised to rise as one of the world’s most important growth poles in a multi-polar world. Africa has rebounded from the global financial and economic crisis, posting GDP growth of 4.5 percent last year. The continents GDP is expected to reach 5.1 percent and 5.8 percent in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Capital flows to Sub-Saharan Africa has rose from US$35.8 billion in 2009 to an estimated US$41.1 billion in 2010 and are expected to reach US$48.5 billion this year. Definitely, this is not the time to entertain the stereotypes in media reports and films that continue to paint the continent as a region of misery, disease and war.

Foreign direct investments to the continent have risen nearly nine-fold from a mere US$10 billion in 2000 to US$88 billion in 2008 dwarfing flows to India (US$42 billion in 2008) and approaching flows to China (US$108 billion). The African Union estimates that foreign direct investments to continent could reach US$150 billion by 2015. Understanding that something new is, indeed, happening in Africa, the Wall Street Journal argued in a recent article that Catching Africas Investment Bug is Proving Contagious.

While Africa is, indeed, open for business, it is not open to just any business, Ms. Ezekwesili cautioned. She explained that the continent can only afford responsible investments. She described these as investments that are people-focused and pro-poor; promote Africas efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals; promote transparency, accountability and good governance; build innovative partnerships with and within the private sector, helping to create jobs, promote prosperity; foster local enterprises, grow opportunities for trade, create new or expand existing markets; bring about the emergence of an African middle class and build the skills Africans need to compete in today’s global and knowledge-based economy.

These factors are so important to us as African just as the capital flows and development we seek, since we can see real change if these standards are adhered to. As Ms Ezekwesili points out ₺Africa does not need the irresponsible investments that have for many decades unleashed corruption and degrading conditions upon those they claim to serve.

As we continue to celebrate the true oneness of our people, culture and aspirations, we should always remember to preserve Africa’s pride and legacy.

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/MADAGASCAREXTN/

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