Akinwumi Adesina, President of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) has called on Africa leaders to channel more investment into its health sector in other to harness its potential as the world’s most fertile ground for investment.
Adesina made this call during the one-day virtual Africa Investment Conference, organized by the UK Department for International Trade, which brought together the UK and African business and government leaders to discuss investment and partnership opportunities.
Participants at the conference included: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone, UK Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith as well as business leaders from Standard Bank, pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca, and mobile operator Vodacom.
The conference focused on four major sectors, which include: sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, financial and professional services, and agricultural-technology.
According to Adesina, Africa still possessed the same fundamentals that had driven the continent’s phenomenal growth over the past decade as the continent offered ample opportunities in terms of natural resources, vast tracts of arable land, and a young and rapidly urbanizing population.
He noted that: “The fundamentals in those phenomenal growth rates in Africa are still there as Africa still leads in terms of ease of doing business”.
The AfDB President, therefore, called on British investors to pay major attention to Africa in other to tap from the huge investment opportunities that the continent offers.
Africa’s economy shrank by 2.1% in 2020 and is expected to grow by 3.4% in 2021 as the global economy recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister earlier in his address told the conference that although “many things have changed” since last year, “there is one thing I can tell you that has not changed: that is my ambition for the UK to be Africa’s investment partner.”
Wade-Smith, UK Trade Commissioner for Africa in her address said that she was heartened to learn that 10 of the fastest-growing economies were still in Africa; adding that there was not enough awareness of how much innovation was happening in the region.
The virtual conference follows last year’s successful UK-Africa Investment Summit, hosted in London by the Prime Minister, where 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5 billion and commitments valued at £8.9 billion were announced. At the time, Africa was home to eight of the world’s 15 fastest-growing economies amid a groundswell of optimism about its economic upswing.