As investors know, sub-Saharan Africa is a high-growth region where businesses will grow and prosper over the next decade. Its potential is enormous and its middle-class consumer market is expanding. As a result, Britain’s economic diplomacy is now deployed in this region, which was not a traditional target for it.
The African markets are dynamic. They all have one imperative: to create jobs and have significant socio-economic benefits to satisfy a thriving youth. For most African heads of state, achieving such results quickly while adapting their economies to the reconfiguration of global supply chains and the energy transition is a daunting task.
However, Africa’s competitive advantages in several key sectors are clear, the skills gap is narrowing and decision-making have improved through advances in technology and better leadership. African governments are now in a better position to take advantage of their resources and markets that investors know are highly profitable.
I had the privilege of working closely with sub-Saharan decision-makers and entrepreneurs for almost ten years. I was able to fully appreciate their efforts to create an enabling policy environment, address institutional deficiencies and attract strategic investments to create the conditions for inclusive growth.
To reinforce the progress made in recent years and respond to the health crisis related to Covid-19, Togo, the first African country to have its health passport recognized by the EU, has launched innovative projects in field culture, in the hotel industry and in real estate.
In Senegal, the health sector is also undergoing a profound modernization (“smart” health card and production of world-class medicines). These advances have been made possible thanks to a dynamic ecosystem, effective public-private partnerships and an impressive talent pool.
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Côte d’Ivoire also has great ambitions in terms of integrating global value chains and at the same time gives local companies every opportunity. Thanks to access to quality cotton and logistical infrastructure, proximity to markets and changing global consumer trends, the government has made significant efforts to revive its textile industry with an emphasis on sustainability and traceability.
Similarly, Gabon and also DR Congo are taking better and better advantage of the carbon absorption capacity of their tropical forest as well as their extraordinary biodiversity to engage in global discussions on climate change. That will be the case at COP27, which will be held in Egypt in November. This conference should allow Africans to be better heard and benefit from fairer economic prospects.
In the Sahel region and despite security problems, Burkina Faso’s banking sector is booming. Niger, for its part, is boldly betting on agricultural food processing and renewable energy. All these actions reflect the desire of African leaders to focus on industrialization, the main engine of prosperity.
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Energy and agribusiness are thus among the key sectors where the private sector is expected to invest and innovate, transform lives and tackle inequalities on a large scale. Across the region, governments, companies and multilateral institutions are already building integrated power pools to global standards, expanding access to electricity in rural areas through smart off-grid solutions and transforming food chains thanks to special transformation zones.
It is a huge satisfaction to see francophone Africa presenting its potential and assets to the investor community in London. Senior officials and business leaders are sure to take advantage of this momentum to support the socio-economic transformation of this booming region.
This approach not only makes good business sense; it constitutes a necessary phase in favor of sustainable development and reduction of poverty in the world, it is likely to reduce the risk of political instability and the phenomenon of forced migrations. There is nothing like healthy competition in bilateral trade relations to help developing countries towards that progress.