August 23, 2016 By Gabriel Benjamin
Following the success of the Mauritius Africa Partnership Conference in 2014, the Board of Investment will be hosting the Africa Partnership Conference 2016 in collaboration with the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) at the Balaclava Fort, Coastal Road, Balaclava, Mauritius, from 20-21 September, 2016.
The conference, which is expected to be declared officially open by Mauritius’ Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, is aimed at identifying concrete investment and business opportunities across the African continent and providing a suitable platform for international investors looking for investment opportunities and project financing in Africa. It will also debate on how to tackle critical issues affecting trade and investment in Africa, as well as provide opportunity for participants to gain access to heads of investment promotion agencies across the continent.
According to a statement on the website of the organisers, the Africa Partnership Conference 2016 will provide a unique platform to address the infrastructural funding gap, which is a major constraint to optimising Foreign Direct Investment flows in Africa, estimated to be US$54 billion in 2015, with an existing gap of US$100 billion in infrastructural development sector alone.
“The African economy has undergone fundamental changes over the last decade. The rising investor’s interest in the African economy is driven by strong economic growth, rising foreign exchange reserves, quality and cost competitiveness and encouraging Government policy-making,” it stated, adding: “The strong level of economic growth achieved in Africa in recent years has led to an expansion of industry, commerce, innovations and per capita income.”
The two-day conference will be attended by senior government officials, including heads of state, ministers, investment promotion agency leaders, policy makers from Africa, executive-level global business leaders – Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers- leading international, regional and journalists, among others.
Speakers at the conference are Prof. Mosad Elmissiry, Head, Energy Programme – NEPAD; Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, Senior Economic Officer, Economics and Statistics Division, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva; Yusuf Atiku Abdalla, Regional Trade Advisor, COMESA, at The Commonwealth; Ms. Kanini Mutooni, Director, Investment and ICT USAID Contractor, East Africa Trade Investment Hub; Georges Chung, Senior Economic Adviser, the Prime Minister of Mauritius Office, among a host of other renowned scholars.
Although Africa is a rich continent, especially in mineral resources such as oil, gas, gold, diamond, sectors that have little effect on rural areas, where the majority of Africa’s poor live, the ultimate measure of progress – the wellbeing of Africans has not improved positively in recent years. Poverty and youth unemployment are deeper in Africa than elsewhere: it takes more growth to lift the average poor person above the poverty threshold.
Economic diversification, inclusive growth in agriculture, the spread of manufacturing and new technologies, along with the development of a skilled workforce holds the key to changing this picture. These are some of the issues the Mauritius conference intends to address.
Meanwhile, as the Government of Sierra Leone seeks to revamp the economy, which was battered by the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2015, it is envisaged that a high power delegation from Freetown will be in attendance woo investors to invest in the country’s vast mineral, agricultural and touristic potential.
The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) is tasked with “improving investment and facilitating export”.
Chief Executive Officer Raymond K. Gbekie told Concord Times they are aware about the meeting and looking forward to attending the event if funds are available.