Africa: Investment in Infrastructure Can Boost Trade in Africa, Finance Ministers Assert

6 Nov

Speaking to reporters during the IMF-World Bank Annual meetings in Washington, D.C., African finance ministers stressed that Africa needs to strengthen the implementation of structural reforms in order to maintain the annual average growth of around 5 percent over the past few years and significantly reduce poverty.

Ministers also emphasized that current developments in the world economy affected Africa’s growth. “We are concerned that the increased downside risks to the global economy will impact negatively on Africa’s trade flows and financing opportunities. We are also worried about the uncertainty regarding the unwinding of unconventional monetary policies, and the threat of potentially devastating budgetary challenges in the United States, which, if left unaddressed, could derail the fragile recovery we experienced last year across the world,” said Amara Konneh, Minister of Finance, Liberia.

Looking at the medium-term, ministers also noted the significant efforts African countries have made to improve human capital through education and training with the aim of reducing poverty. However, they also acknowledge much more needed to be done. “We have noted the weaknesses of our education system. Professional education is not up to par. Our education system needs to be reformed in order to meet the requirements of our economy and the requirements and demands of our society”, said Luc Oyoubi, Finance Minister of Gabon

Armando Manuel, Finance Minister of Angola, told reporters that as part of its national development agenda, Angola has implemented a training plan for its civil servants. “There is a new strategy in place because Angola has understood that the wealth of a country cannot only be measured by its natural resources, but also by its human capital. And this is a challenge the country is taking on–to form the skilled workers to achieve the objectives of economic development,” said Manuel.

Luc Oyoubi, Minister of Economy of Gabon and Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Cote d’Ivoire, also said they intended for their countries to become emerging markets by 2015 and 2020, respectively

Reforming the Infrastructure Deficit

In addition, ministers stressed the importance of addressing Africa’s infrastructure deficit. Konneh said the continent needed aggressive infrastructure projects to unleash its growth potential. “It is worth repeating here that the ability to travel from one side of our country to another side, and from one country to another, is almost a fundamental right; that the ability to travel between countries is necessary for trade, for business, and for sharing of knowledge and innovation,” said Konneh, the Liberian minister.

RETRIEVED: http://allafrica.com/stories/201311050389.html

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