21 March 2015, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The International Conference on the Emergence of Africa opened Wednesday, March 18 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, with calls for African governments to address inequality. Even though Africa is experiencing economic growth, many still cannot feel the impact, the forum heard.
“We have to ensure we get rid of the current inequalities in our societies. We have to find a way of ensuring everyone, including the poor have access to resources,” said Macky Sall, Senegal’s President. To reach this level, Helen Clark, Administrator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), emphasised the need for African governments to adopt specific policies. These, she said, will improve the human development standards.
The conference serves as a platform for governments, private sector and partners to exchange ideas and learn lessons of how to improve policies and strategies that will help African nations become emerging markets.
The three-day event is co-organized by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and UNDP, in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank Group. Participants include Heads of African States, BRICS (a group of emerging economies including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), diplomats, private sector, and civil society, amongst others.
China shared its story of transformation, from a poor country, to now one of the world’s fastest growing economies. This was after it adopted market reforms in 1978. The Asian country’s Gross Domestic Product averages 10 percent per year, lifting most of its population out of poverty.
For Africa to report such change, Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, AfDB’s Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President, observed the importance of ensuring peace and stability. “Let us stop civil wars, let us stop deaths of our mothers and sisters. Development is impossible without peace,” he said.
Addressing Africa’s energy problem and enhancing private sector participation are key elements that are expected to take centre stage at the meeting, which runs till Friday.