At least 1,000 delegates, including heads of State and senior government officials, representatives of multilateral organisations and members of the private sector are in Kigali for a two-day Global African Investment Summit, which opened yesterday.
The summit, which is taking place for the first time in Africa, presents an opportunity for the continent to leverage on its growing influence as an investment destination.
It also serves as a springboard to lobby for more investors to look at Africa not as a poor aid recipient continent but a huge market base. Africa is no longer a continent associated with wars, poverty and disease.
Bringing the summit to Africa is a vote of confidence in the continent’s business potential. The outcome of the summit should clearly chart closer trade ties within and beyond the continent.
In particular, emphasis should be put on bringing down barriers to greater intra-Africa trade and investments. The summit is a big boost to efforts to attract more investments on the continent, and comes at a time when several African countries are working to create a conducive investment environment for the private sector and to promote regional economic integration. This year’s summit is unique as it focuses on investments by African investors as well as promoting intra-regional trade, which is quite low compared to other regions across the world.
Currently, the levels of intra-Africa trade remain at under 15 per cent compared to other regions such as Asia where intra-continental trade is over 40 per cent. But this can improve if efforts to economically integrate Africa’s three major regional economic communities – the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the East African Community (EAC) are fast-tracked.
Together, the three economic blocs would create the largest trading bloc in Africa, comprising 26 countries, with about 620 million consumers and a combined GDP of almost $1.2 trillion.