In a press briefing today at the AfCFTA Conference Room in Africa Trade House, officials from the Africa Prosperity Network (APN) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat unveiled the objectives of the upcoming Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD), slated to transpire from Thursday, January 25 to Saturday, January 27, 2024, at the scenic Akuapim Hills in Ghana.
Gabby Otchere-Darko, the Founder and Executive Chairman of APN, emphasized that the overarching focus of the APD is to propose concrete measures aimed at realizing the prosperity of the African continent. The event is organized in close collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat in the capital city of Ghana, Accra.
During the briefing, Mr. Otchere-Darko underscored the significant role the private sector plays in driving economic growth and pointed out that the AfCFTA is the most significant project since the formation of the African Union. He stressed the urgency of pushing for the implementation of AfCFTA within the first decade of its existence (2021-2031) to ensure its success.
“The first 10 years of the agreement coming into force are crucial because if we can’t get it right now, we will never get it right,” Mr. Otchere-Darko stated.
He highlighted the necessity of the private sector taking ownership of AfCFTA and driving its success, emphasizing that this requires a collaborative effort with political leadership on the continent. This collaborative vision is the focal point of the APD, which seeks to facilitate a partnership between the private sector and political leaders.
Mr. Otchere-Darko urged the media to play a pivotal role in promoting the APD’s agenda, emphasizing its vital role in realizing the envisioned partnership between the private sector and political leadership. He called on the media to take a keen interest in the APD and utilize their platforms to advocate for the AfCFTA and disseminate the outcomes of the 2024 APD.
AfCFTA – APD partnership
Chief of Staff at the AfCFTA Secretariat, Silver Ojakol, speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, noted that the AfCFTA Secretariat considers the APD, a vital component, and source of generating policy implementation initiatives that will help drive the objectives of the AfCFTA area.
He described the AfCFTA as a highway through which countries on the African continent can connect effectively with each other to unravel the full potential of the continent. He indicated that AfCFTA is looking forward to the rich proposals that will be made at the APD 2024, which will be fully embraced by the Secretariat for implementation.
Transforming Africa’s fortunes
Dr Eugene Owusu, a member of the board of the Africa Prosperity Network (APN), in his remarks, identified four important areas that the African continent will have to focus on to transform its fortunes.
The first he said, is the quest to define a new positive narrative owned by the continent and its people. He explained that for far too long, Africans have been defined by what others see in them and not by what they see in themselves.
“As a people, sometimes we get too bogged down and are defined by the challenges that confront us. This is not right, and certainly, this is not progressive.
“Poverty and under-development cannot be our narrative. Although we may have a lot of poor people on this continent, Africa is not a poor continent,” Dr Eugene Owusu asserted.
“We are too rich to be poor! So, we must define our narrative – one that inspires hope and self-confidence and one that speaks to our human dignity,” Dr Eugene Owusu added.
Africa, according to Mr Owusu, must also be deliberate, and work with Pentecostal conviction to transform its development misfortunes, focus on the cardinal importance of deepening intra-African trade, scale up its production of goods and services, add value to what is produced, and frontally address the obstacles to deeper intra-African trade.
APD 2024 Thematic Areas
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Africa Prosperity Network, Njack Kane, shared the major thematic areas that will form the main subjects that will be discussed by the multiple panels participating in the 2024 dialogues.
The thematic areas he said, will be agriculture and food sovereignty, natural resources and value addition, infrastructure and Information Communication Technology (ICT), and finance and investments.
Motivation for APD 2024
Gayheart Mensah, a member of the Board of Directors of the APN, in his overview on why the APD 2024 is themed; “Delivering Prosperity in Africa: Produce, Add Value, Trade,” said Africa is a continent rich in natural resources and human capital and has large deposits of diamonds, iron, oil, natural gas, gold, uranium, copper and cobalt, about 30% of the world’s mineral reserves.
The continent he says also has 12% oil and 8% of natural gas reserves and an immense potential for hydroelectric power, solar energy, and geothermal energy. It has a vast amount of arable land, water, minerals, forests, and wildlife 2, over 1.4 billion people, making it the second most populous continent after Asia.
West, East, Central, and Southern Africa will reach a $29 trillion combined GDP by 2050 and the continent is expected to reach nearly 2.5 billion inhabitants by 2050.
Despite these vast resources in Africa, there is widespread poverty, unemployment, and under-development. Over 40% of the population live below the international poverty line, and yet the continent’s potential for growth and development is immense.
“There is much to be optimistic about. The irony of a continent deprived and poor amid richness and potential is what birthed the Africa Prosperity Network (APN) and its flagship programme, the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD).
“Delivering Prosperity in Africa: Produce, Add Value, Trade will require investment in infrastructure, injection of capital into production, innovation, removal of trade barriers, and a pan-continental legal and regulatory regime that will enhance intra-African trade. Africa’s political leaders and the private sector have no choice but to sit and dialogue, if this aspiration is to become a reality,” Mr Mensah said.
“A lot more production and value-addition within the continent would generate jobs, create wealth, stimulate economic growth in Africa, and deliver prosperity dividends. It will improve the competitiveness of Africa in global trade, expand our markets, and increase in-flows. This is the reason why Africa must learn to work together, particularly our politicians and businessmen.
“We must collaborate across borders and sectors and create the environment that allows us to produce, add value, and trade among ourselves. We must invest in our people and our infrastructure for sustainable economic growth and development. Above all, we must embrace dialogue, innovation, and creativity to unlock the full potential of the African economy and create prosperity for the people of Africa,” Gayheart Mensah added.