The third Investing in Africa Forum (IAF) saw the launch of a thought-provoking report on propelling the economy, called Leapfrogging Through Innovation. Prepared by the World Bank and China Development Bank, the report discusses opportunities to scale-up innovation in various economic sectors in Africa. The annual Forum took place in Dakar this year, where it was hosted by the Government of Senegal, Chinese Ministry of Finance, China Development Bank, and the World Bank Group.
“We couldn’t have found a better topic for a continent aspiring for emergence. On the path to emergence, we must give ourselves the means to positively and sustainably transform our production system. This will inevitably require innovation, and a new mindset that translates into a real willingness to break with established ideas, practices, and habits. It can no longer be ‘business as usual’, as our Anglophone friends say,” said Macky Sall, President of Senegal.
The IAF is an annual platform aimed at increasing China’s investments in Africa, and other multilateral cooperation. This year it focused on a new generation of investment opportunities driven by innovation and the adoption of technologies critical for unlocking Africa’s potential for accelerated, inclusive economic growth.
“The Investing in Africa Forum is an important multilateral platform to strengthen cooperation and spark innovation across the African continent,” said Shaolin Yang, Managing Director and Chief Administrative Officer of the World Bank Group. “African leaders recognize the power of embracing new and disruptive technologies. We look forward to working on ways that move words to action by further leveraging finance, global knowledge, and partnerships through supporting dialogues among governments, investors, and civil society. Through the Forum we are igniting change for long-term sustainable impact across the developing world.”
Several Memorandums of Understanding were signed at the Forum, covering projects in energy, agriculture, and education.
“We have committed to mutually beneficial, win-win cooperation to promote the sharing of development experience, investments and trade,” said Yaobin Shi, Vice Minister of Finance of the People’s Republic of China. “I hope that, through this Forum, China and African countries will coordinate development strategies and find new opportunities for cooperation. We must learn from each other, explore new development paths, integrate our competitive advantages and resources, and develop new financing models to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”
The Forum also saw the debut of the Investing in Africa Think Tank Alliance, a global platform for knowledge sharing and partnerships in Africa, China, and elsewhere.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is already working with investments from China to finance development projects through the Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program. This program has financed to date 57 projects across 27 countries, and has notably invested $465 million in Sub-Saharan African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Guinea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Gabon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
“The digital economy has high potential to unleash economic growth, jobs, and social inclusion,” said Nena Stoiljkovic, IFC Vice President for Blended Finance and Partnerships. “The digitization of economies requires the right regulatory framework, significant private sector investment in broadband infrastructure, and financing and advisory solutions to unlock investments perceived as higher risk.”
More than 400 participants attended the Forum, which was also well-attended by Chinese and African companies seeking to expand partnerships for new investments.
Established in 2015 through a China Development Bank initiative, the first two Forums were held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and in Guangzhou (China). During these Forums, participants advocated stronger partnerships to address the acceleration of manufacturing and industrialization, expanding agriculture and agribusiness, and improving infrastructure, regional connectivity and logistics for trade.
The next Investing in Africa Forum (IAF 2018) will be held in Hunan, China.