To attract the financing needed to meet Africa’s investment needs, the public sector must create an enabling environment for the private sector to play its role, African Development Bank (AfDB) Southern African deputy director-general Josephine Ngure says.
Speaking at a pre-African Investment Forum (AIF) event, in Johannesburg, on Wednesday, she pointed out that the continent needs to attract $200-billion to $1.2-trillion a year.
The private sector has a role to play in shaping policy aimed at creating the right enabling environment in individual countries across Africa, she noted.
Bringing the private sector into an appropriate dialogue, she explained to Engineering News Online on the sidelines of the event, allows the AfDB to advocate for its involvement, which she says will, in turn, lead to the necessary conversations for creating a conducive business environment in Africa, both for local and international investors.
However, she warned that there will be a disconnect between the public and private sectors if governments continue to remain focussed on driving policy, while having a limited understanding of the private sector’s requirements.
“This is not just to create an enabling environment for the private sector to invest but will allow Africa to attract global funding, which it is in desperate need of.”
She further explained that understanding is key, not just for international financiers, but for the local industry as well.
“We need to evaluate and understand where policy needs to be reformed, as well as how this impacts what is important for Africa’s growth, while creating a point of convergence between Africa and international investors to create a win-win situation,” Ngure elaborated.
However, she highlighted that the growth potential of the private sector across the continent keeps increasing, noting that, with the growth of this sector, jobs, innovation and skills development will be created.
“We need to embrace [the private sector] a lot more than what we have done in the past.”
Meanwhile, across town, the tenth iteration of the international relations conference between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) is taking place with the aim of moving African partnerships forward in terms of collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity, while taking advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The alignment of the AIF with the Brics summit, Ngure noted, is to demonstrate that the African forum is a core part of the discussions that are taking place not just across the continent, but also around the world.
Both the summit and AIF, she pointed out, aim to get Africa to “the next level”, while realising the ambitions that the continent, and its countries, have set for themselves.
“If you look at the [African Union's] 2063 agenda, various country development plans, regional development plans and country strategies, these discussions and forums are seeking to re-emphasise the importance of private sector investment in growth”.
The alignment between the two events, Ngure further added, was key to ensuring inclusive growth in Africa.
“The global landscape and how we can marry the continental initiatives to fast-track the development of the continent, is truly important,” she said.