Africa faces an urgent need to develop mechanisms to mobilize domestic resources to support investment and development of export and trade-related infrastructure, Jean-Louis Ekra, President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), said in Lusaka today.
Mr. Ekra was speaking during the opening of three days of seminars and meeting of the Advisory Group on Trade Finance and Export Development in Africa being held as part of activities leading up to the 22nd Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of Afreximbank.
He told the audience that Africa faced a growing and worrying phenomenon of massive outflows of resources from African countries, adding that the seminar theme, “African Direct Investment as a Source of Long-Term Finance for Export Diversification and Development in Africa”, was a recognition of that need.
He stated that the thrust towards domestic resource mobilization resonated with Afreximbank’s role as a pan-African institution created to tackle African trade development challenges and identify opportunities.
Dr. Denny Kalyalya, Governor of the Bank of Zambia, said, while opening the seminars and meeting, that promoting direct investment by enterprises and institutions across Africa would provide long-term finance for export diversification.
According to him, foreign direct investment from outside the continent should, in that regard, complement African direct investment for a greater development impact.
Dr. Kalyala noted that while Africa had been among the world’s fastest-growing regions over the past decade, it had been faced with a reality check when prices of oil and other commodities declined sharply last year, pointing out that Africa continued to depend excessively on natural resources.
In discussions after the opening ceremony, Prof. Leonce Ndikumana of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who spoke on “Mobilizing African Resources for Export Diversification and Development”, said that the policy questions that needed to be addressed included determining how to incentivize African banking systems to become more development oriented and supportive of innovation and entrepreneurship; how to leverage African sovereign wealth funds; how to better leverage the potential of national and regional development banks; and how to combat capital flight.
In his contribution, Justin Lin, former Chief Economist at the World Bank and professor at the National School of Development, Peking University, China, said that Africa’s Poor development performance was due to government development and transition policies being shaped by inadequate ideas
Prof. Lin argued that with the right ideas, African countries could grow as dynamically as other successful economies in the world, explaining that a developing country could grow and become a middle or high-income country if it exploited latecomer advantages.
In addition to the seminars and meeting of the Advisory Group, an investment forum and a trade exhibition are also scheduled to take place ahead of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on 13 June.
Manal Mounir Hendy