ICEA 2019: The concretization of an African private sector

ICEA 2019: The concretization of an African private sector
Photo credit: ICEA 2019

24 Jan 2019

The prioritization of development constraints in Africa is propelling the private sector among the key sectors that can pull both growth and political will by balancing the power relationship between the state and the private sector.

By providing economic thinking focused on the private sector, the Third Africa Emergence Conference used a geometric mindset needed to sort through Africa’s emergencies.

Through the platform of exchange that it offers, this conference provides tangible proof of the necessary cross-border vision that Africa must have on areas such as investment, entrepreneurship, the private sector and the emergence in general.

This conference seems to be that machine which will shake the moribund vitality of the African Union worn down by its infernal cycles of dynamism and torpor. It is perhaps this unexpected actor of African integration that the African Union and ECOWAS are struggling to achieve.

ICEA helps to understand the problems that Africans share in order to provide a global response. Infrastructures, youth unemployment, instability, the problem of funding are all bad news, evoked by President Macky Sall of Senegal, Mali’s Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and president Adesina Akinwumi of AfDB at the opening ceremony, along with France’s Ségolène Royale, former Minister of the Environment, Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UNDP.

Africa on several points is on the same wavelength and the private sector alone crystallizes a significant number of these ills. So the rise of the private sector will be a natural response to the impossible power of the states, the weakness of domestic resource mobilization, that of the African market and Africa’s lag in technology and digital.

Most African countries, as President Macky Sall has pointed out, have taken a break in their economic paradigm, which is reflected in the search for a structural transformation of their economy; Similarly, another breakthrough is taking place in the education system, which is slowly changing to focus on the new technologies and digital technologies that are the Grail of a landmark emerging country like Malaysia.

To this must be added the need for another break which is the bureaucratic break to push youth to entrepreneurship. We have a youth whose professional philosophy is to seek to protect themselves from the market by becoming employees of the private or the public service instead of wanting to conquer the market through entrepreneurship: it is said that the best way to become rich is to create a business.

The weakness of the private sector in Africa is both an evil and an indicator of our level of development: no country has emerged, affirmed the president of the national council of the employers Baidy Agne, without the development of his private sector which has the ability to accelerate growth dynamics.

The state needs the private sector that needs the state and the complexity of this relationship is manifested in the permanent search for a balance between the growth of local businesses and the tax burden, between the use of the foreign expertise and local expertise, between the competition of foreign companies and local businesses, between the financing of local businesses and that of social protection.

But states must not be alone in the search for this balance. The private sector must rely more on its independence, organization and creativity because the true ally of the private sector in my judgment is the African private sector; the optimum growth in Africa can only be achieved if African countries link together their men and their resources.

This necessitates the emergence of dynamic bodies and institutions representing the African private sector, which certainly needs the state and its reforms in the business environment, for example, but must also be a sort of spur to the political will given the role it plays in a society through the creation of wealth and jobs.

Final Statement

From 17 to 19 January 2019, at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Center in Diamniadio, Senegal, the third edition of the International Conference on the Emergence of Africa, CIEA III was held. 

The event was graced by the presence of their Excellencies:

  • Mr. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal;

  • Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, President of the Republic of Mali;

  • Dr. TUN Mahathir bin Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia;

  • Mr. Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Prime Minister of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire;

  • Mr. Lee Ju Young, Vice President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea and;

  • Mrs. Ségolène Royal, representative of the President of the French Republic.

ICEA III featured the participation of eminent personalities from partner institutions, including Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Hans Peter Lankes, Vice President of the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group.

Also participating in this meeting were the leaders of international and African institutions through the African Union, ECA, ECOWAS, WAEMU, BOAD, BCEAO and eminent personalities from the private sector, academia, experts and representatives of civil society.

More than 1300 decision-makers and experts from around fifty countries around the world have discussed the issue of “Emergence, the Private Sector and Inclusiveness”.

The work of this third edition, which started with a high-level session bringing together heads of state and government, heads of institutions, and business leaders, highlighted six major underlying themes the issue of the conference. These are:

  • Promote stability, both politically and securely, but also maintain the long-term strategy of emergence;

  • Mobilize internal resources and encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) in strategic sectors with technology transfer;

  • Develop human capital with special access to training-employment adequacy;

  • Establish a network of local SMEs / SMIs through better access to financing and better consideration of local content in development projects;

  • Broaden the size of African markets through country connectivity infrastructure and business development reforms and;

  • Initiate a sustainable industrialization dynamic for a better valuation of raw materials.

These themes were further explored in discussions in plenary sessions and parallel panels that provided answers to questions relating to the promotion of the private sector as a driver of emergence, and of inclusiveness, a guarantee of the sustainability of emergence.

Following the discussions, the Dakar Conference made the following recommendations to stakeholders.

States are invited to:

  • establish the conditions for political, institutional and security stability and build a shared long-term vision that transcends political mandates;

  • Maintain efforts to reform the business environment, build productive support infrastructure and connect to markets, as well as training to ensure the employability of young people;

  • Pay particular attention to tax reforms, with a view to better mobilizing domestic resources and;

  • Promote the advent of national and regional champions, and develop intra-African trade through access to expanded markets.

For its part, the private sector has welcomed the willingness of states to support the rise of national champions. As such, it will have to be part of a long-term dynamic and exploit the opportunities offered by innovative public-private partnerships.

In addition, the private sector is expected to play its full role in the process of enhancing African products through natural resource processing and the use of innovation.

Also, it recognizes the importance of its role in the implementation of initiatives promoting the development of labor productivity as well as social and territorial inclusion.

The technical and financial partners reiterate their support for the efforts of States to formulate Emergence Strategies and to mobilize additional financial resources.

They also reaffirm their willingness to support private initiative, through the revitalization of the corresponding windows.

The conference recognized the importance of the sustainability and institutionalization of the meetings of the ICEA and recommends that the States, the private sector and the partner institutions work to make it a powerful lever of exchange of experiences to guarantee the fulfillment of their ambitions.

Thus, the fourth edition of the ICEA to be held in March 2021 in Abidjan will provide an opportunity to evaluate and learn from this initiative.

With this in mind, an Executive Secretary has been appointed to operationalize the ICEA Roadmap as soon as possible.

Diamniadio, January 19, 2019.

Source International Conference on the Emergence of Africa
Website Visit website
Date 24 Jan 2019
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