Experts: Infrastructure growth key to Africa’s competitiveness

African countries need to develop a robust infrastructure to be able to compete globally in terms of economic development, experts attending the 48th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) have said.
Rwanda has been ranked as the most competitive country in East Africa and the third in Sub-Saharan Africa due to the available infrastructure  and opportunities. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.
Rwanda has been ranked as the most competitive country in East Africa and the third in Sub-Saharan Africa due to the available infrastructure and opportunities. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.

African countries need to develop a robust infrastructure to be able to compete globally in terms of economic development, experts attending the 48th Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) have said.

The five-day meeting dubbed “Africa’s structural transformation” kicked off yesterday in Marrakech, Morocco.

It focuses on the need for Africa to turn economic growth into shared and sustainable economic transformation within the next 50 years.

“Many African countries continue to feature among least competitive economies in the world due to undeveloped infrastructure. It’s time for Africa to focus on infrastructure growth to boost her competitiveness,” said Professor Mthuli Ncube, the chief economist and Vice President of the AfDB.

Ncube who was speaking at the meeting dubbed ‘Connecting Africa’s market in a sustainable way’ added: “By competitiveness we mean all of the factors, institutions and policies that determine a country’s level of productivity.”

According to AfDB, Africa’s challenge is to bring its progress of the last decade to balance, for instance the critical lack of infrastructure – transport, energy, water, telecommunications, which is the basis for all growth.

The experts said that lack of regional economic integration and fragmented national markets; and as well the pockets of serious fragility still persist across the continent.

According to Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, the director, head of competitiveness at the World Economic Forum, bringing private sector on board and developing domestic capital markets will also help in transforming African economies.

“Every African government should make infrastructure development a priority among other important areas of development,” she emphasised.

“Leveraging ICT should be important to connect people and markets. Despite the fact that today ICT is available; to a large extent African economies haven’t utilised it to the maximum.”

The meeting brought together  hundreds of high-level participants, including academics, political leaders, representatives of international organisations, chief executive officers, civil society organisations and the media to examine the key drivers of growth in Africa in next half century.

AfDB president, Donald Kaberuka said the bank’s annual meetings are being held at a crucial time.

Continental support

“Africa is rising, and it needs a push. The rest of the world is languishing, and it too needs a push. Africa needs the world, and the world needs Africa. Each can give the other a push.”

 When it comes to competitiveness, Rwanda has been on several occasions ranked as the most competitive country in East Africa, the third in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The recent ‘Doing Business Report 2013’ on East Africa Community partner countries ranked Rwanda as the easiest country in the region to start a business.

The country has been on several occasions positioned as the most reformed country and a place to do business by the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2013.

Last year, the World Bank survey ranked Rwanda in 52nd position out of 185 economies for doing business.

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