United Nations officials today stressed the need to harness the necessary resources to take Africa’s progress to the next level, calling for increased investment to boost the continent’s development prospects.
“Africa needs to bridge a huge financing gap,” John Ashe, President of the General Assembly, said at the thematic debate on the promotion of investment in Africa. “Innovative financing must come from within the continent and from greater private sector investment, as well as public-private collaborations.”
Mr. Ashe said that over the past decade, there has been considerable investment in many African countries, including those with the highest growth rates. Foreign direct investment (FDI) towards the continent has steadily increased since 2000.
However, he added, much of this investment has been related to resource extraction and exports, and has not led to the enhancement of productive capacity and/or much-needed job creation. Similarly, despite considerable natural resource endowments, there has not been equitable distribution of the benefits of the revenues earned from their extraction, nor have such revenues been used to boost industrialization and development strategies.
“As a consequence, critical financing gaps remain, particularly with regard to agriculture, industrialization and infrastructure development,” said Mr. Ashe.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the meeting that his travels in Africa have given him a first-hand look at the dynamism and promise of the continent. The UN estimates that Africa’s overall growth will exceed 5 per cent in 2015, driven especially by domestic demand and solid commodity prices.
“But, this positive performance must not let us become complacent,” said Mr. Ban, adding that serious obstacles still exist to more inclusive and sustainable economic and social development.
He said that to end extreme poverty and provide inclusive prosperity, Africa needs enabling environments that promote investment and reduce risk, as well as the wise management of the proceeds so they support sustainable development.
“Investment is essential, and when it is the right investment, it can be effective, benefitting people, businesses and governments alike,” the Secretary-General said.
It is essential, he stressed, to harness all sources of investment and finance – public and private, domestic and external – and ensure they complement each other.