Hundreds of leaders and scholars from Africa and around the world will gather in Kigali, Rwanda, from October 30 to November 2 to debate the continent’s prospects for sustainable and inclusive growth in the context of the international economic crisis.
Organized each year by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the 7th annual African Economic Conference will be held in Kigali under the theme “Inclusive and Sustainable Development in an Age of Economic Uncertainty.”
The conference is the most comprehensive event held each year on Africa’s economy and development, discussing macroeconomic prospects, as well as trade and finance and development policy in a global context.
Africa has grown strongly over the past decade. Having weathered the economic crisis, the continent’s average growth is expected to rebound to 4.8 percent in 2013.
The region now faces the challenge of translating that growth into effective poverty reduction and sustainable human development, through employment creation, the establishment of quality social services, and expanding opportunities for political and economic participation.
The conference will examine the possibility of pursuing these objectives in the face of a worsening international economic environment, volatile food and fuel markets, and falling levels of exports, remittances and official aid.
“African policy-makers are by and large continuing to realize their quest for growth and improved well-being in their countries,” said Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank. “However, in a difficult international environment, the question is how to meet the investment requirements to continue to forge ahead.”
Participants will examine the key drivers of growth in Africa. With a growing number of countries on the continent producing or exploring for oil, the conference will look at the possibility of using profits from extractive industries to spur economic diversification and investments in social capital and human development.
“Africa’s vast natural wealth can create opportunities to accelerate human development,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. “It can provide the basis for infrastructure development, economic diversification, new jobs and businesses, and the domestic resources to fund quality services and social protection.”
Trade with developed and emerging economies presents additional opportunities for growth and so does regional integration, which can unleash the full potential of Africa’s investment and business environment. To that end, the participants will look at how barriers can be removed and regulations improved to allow people to benefit from trade.
With the number of youth in Africa set to double by 2045, and 27 percent of them currently unemployed, the conference will also look at the potential behind Africa’s present and future workforce.
“Creating employment for young people isn’t just crucial for social cohesion and stability. It creates a virtuous cycle of productivity, innovation, economic growth and fulfillment,” said ECA Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes.
The African Economic Conference is organized as a series of open thematic debates, combined with sessions that review policy research from across the continent. The conference provides a will provide a uniquely open forum for political leaders, academics and emerging talents from the continent to discuss solutions to Africa’s most pressing development challenges.