The 2023 edition of the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) kicked off on Wednesday in Marrakech, Morocco, bringing together Heads-of-State, decision-makers, multinationals, and investors for a three-day event under the theme “Unlocking Africa’s Value Chains.”
The Africa Investment Forum is a multi-stakeholder platform focusing on continental dealmaking, facilitating connections between project sponsors, policymakers, and investors, and has mobilized $142bn in investment interest since 2018.
King Mohammed VI: Africa Needs Private Sector Investment
In his opening remarks, delivered by Omar Kabbaj, advisor to the King, His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco stated, “You have gathered for this Fourth Africa Investment Forum at a time when our continent is facing complex economic challenges exacerbated by geopolitical tensions generated beyond African borders.”
He added that the use of debt as the primary source of financing for public policies to mitigate the impact of exogenous shocks, along with rising interest rates and a persistent inflationary spiral, is reducing African countries’ room for maneuver and considerably restricting their ability to balance economic and social development requirements with the need to preserve internal and external budgetary balances.
“Given this unprecedented situation and the scale of development financing needs in Africa, the role of the private sector has been gaining greater importance in achieving African countries’ development objectives. State budgets alone cannot cover all the investment needed, especially in high-potential, job-intensive sectors.”
Africa is Open for Business: Adesina at Africa Investment Forum Opening
Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, said, “The Africa Investment Forum gathers at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions and conflicts around the world, which have led to greater uncertainties and could weaken global economic growth.”
“Yet in the midst of the challenges, Africa is growing well and showing resilience. African economies witnessed a real GDP growth of 3.8% in 2022, higher than the world average of 3.5%,” he stressed.
Adesina explained that five of the six pre-pandemic top-performing African countries are projected to be back in the league of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies for 2023-2024.
“African economies provide some of the best investment opportunities in the world. Do not believe me for my optimism, believe the data.”
He further added that Africa’s population will reach 2.5 billion by 2050 when the continent will account for 25% of the global population.
“The New York Times recently affirmed in a headline, what we know, that the world is becoming more African. With a youth population of 477 million people between the ages of 15 and 25, Africa will be the key for supplying the global labor force.”
Founded in 2018, the Africa Investment Forum is a multi-stakeholder platform that has become the continent’s premier investment platform. A flagship initiative of the African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, the Africa Investment Forum has European Development Bank, Afreximbank, Trade and Development Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Africa Finance Cooperation, Africa 50 as its Founding Partners. Last year edition was held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Accelerating Africa’s Economic Transformation
A panel of African Heads of State and Government discussed Africa’s potential to play a larger role in global value chains. They emphasized the need for improved infrastructure, resource cooperation, and a supportive business environment.
It was attended by Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania; Edouard Ngirente, Prime Minister of Rwanda; Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU); Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone; Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.
President Samia called for urgent action to close connectivity gaps in Africa to accelerate economic growth. She also stressed the importance of private sector participation in the development process.
Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente appealed for resource cooperation and collective action to enable Africa to achieve its development goals. He reiterated the importance of leveraging Africa’s natural resources for sustainable growth.