What policy initiatives would you prioritise to promote regional integration in Africa and what international co-operation initiatives would you encourage most?

©OECD

I am delighted to open the 18th International Economic Forum on Africa. What we will be focusing on is precisely how we can design the policies which will lead to inclusion and ensure that everyone–families, farmers and businesses–reaps the benefits of Africa’s integration.

Engineers prepare to launch a medical drone, Rwanda 2018 ©Kristin Palitza/DPA/AFP

Accelerating the knowledge-led development of Africa through science driven policy and investments is important for boosting long-term growth and well-being.

On 16 October 2018, the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced the signing of an Inga 3 project exclusive development agreement with two consortia (Chinese and Spanish). This is a milestone for Africa. After eight years of studies and discussions, this hydroelectric dam project on the Congo River will finally enter its operational phase.

President Keïta at the OECD in 2015 ©Herve Cortinat/OECD

“I want to reconcile hearts and minds…so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony.” So said Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on being elected president of Mali in 2013, against a backdrop of violence and crisis. Now, five years later, with instability still an issue, can the recently re-elected President Keïta bring about the changes needed for a lasting peace?

©Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

Every year, millions of people in the Sahel and West Africa face hunger as levels of food and nutrition insecurity become critical. It is a familiar problem that tends to be dealt with within a top-down, national framework. Yet purely national analyses, rather than territorial and local ones, can mask pockets of poverty, hunger and malnutrition concentrated in specific geographic areas. If we look, for example, at stunting, a chronic state of undernutrition among children under the age of five, the national average in Benin is 34%. 

Kris Pannecoucke/PANOS REA

Doing business in conflict areas is challenging for everyone, whether you are talking about mining or even brewing beer. 

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Higher investment in human development in Africa is paying off. One reflection of this is the share of both girls and boys completing their secondary education,which has increased between 2005 and 2014.

Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from the worst health status in the world, according to the authors of Making Medicines in Africa. As policymakers turn their focus to healthcare, in part spurred on by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the authors argue that industrial development in pharmaceuticals and the capabilities it generates can play a crucial role in addressing the healthcare needs of the continent. Through a collection of case studies on industrial policies, Making Medicines in Africa shows the successes and pitfalls along the way. 

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The African Union has made harmonising economic statistics across Africa a key objective of Agenda 2063, which is its 50-year pan-African economic development strategy. Better data is also relevant to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, of which goal 17 aims to improve domestic tax revenues and collection to strengthen resources. 

© Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Innovative business models are creating new dynamics between formal companies and informal micro-entrepreneurs.

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Korean trade with Africa has more than quadrupled since the late 1990s.

2015 has been a challenging year for Africa. Average growth of African economies weakened in 2015 to 3.6%, down from an average annual 5% enjoyed since 2000.

In October, world leaders will gather in Quito for the Habitat III summit to launch the New Urban Agenda. This is on top of the start this year of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

© Joe Penney / Reuters

We don’t know the name, or the place and exact date of birth, of the baby who changed world history. My guess is that she was born somewhere in Africa in 2007. Not that she cared as she lay there all wrinkled and raging at the disagreeable turn her life had just taken, but it was thanks to her that for the first time ever, the world had more urban dwellers than country folk.

The world’s oceans, seas and rivers are a major source of wealth, creating trillions of dollars’ worth in goods and services as well as employing billions of people. […] Yet Africa’s blue potential remains untapped.

Africa is the least urbanised continent in the world but an urban transition is very much underway. This is particularly visible in West Africa where the number of urban agglomerations increased from 152 in 1950 to almost 2,000 in 2010. Between 2000 and 2010 alone, the urban population grew by over 40 million people, making towns and cities home to 41% of the region’s total population.

African nations are exploring how best to harness the potential of cities as agents of change to achieve progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The current African Economic Outlook (AEO), jointly produced by the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme, warns that policy makers and donors too often are blind to the territorial realities of the economies they are trying to help develop. Economies are seen as sectors rather than places. And thus sectoral lenses tend to limit policy action to a few specific tools, regardless of the complexity of problems that demand a place-based, multi-sectoral and participatory approach.

Joan Clos ©UN-Habitat

If urbanisation is one of the most important global trends of the 21st century, with some 70% of the world’s population forecasted to live in cities by 2050, then urbanisation in Africa–and the ways in which that growth occurs–marks one of the most significant opportunities for achieving global sustainable development.

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Africa’s urban population growth rate was the world’s fastest at 4% between 1960 and 2010, and it is clear that urbanisation across its 54 countries will continue to pose policy challenge in the years ahead. But unlike in many other regions of the world, people quitting the countryside to settle in cities will not be the main driver of that growth.

©Peter Treanor/Alamy Stock Photo

Air pollution in African cities is a major health and environmental challenge that must become a focus of urban policies. 

Sea change for the Moroccan port of Tangier ©Alamy

Tangier in 2000 was a sleepy coastal city in the north of Morocco. Fifteen years later, Tangier’s population has exploded three-fold into a vibrant metropolitan area of 1.5 million inhabitants. The city’s free-zones have attracted new industries, such as automobile producers. A new business district called Tangier City Center and new satellite cities arise around Tangier’s old town, providing local inhabitants with modern infrastructure and amenities that have been sorely lacking. A new high-speed train is being built to connect people with the state-of-the-art Ibn Batouta International Airport.

What policy actions are you taking to harness the benefits and address the challenges of the digital economy?

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The Paris Agreement on climate change signals the end of business as usual for energy industries. For the first time in history more than 150 developed and developing countries have promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But how binding are these agreements? And do they provide impetus for local action in Africa?

"Regional authorities in Africa are now getting involved in the fight against climate change by making concrete commitments."

Interview with Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio, President of the Assembly of Regions and Districts of Côte d’Ivoire (ARDCI)

©REUTERS/Joe Penney

There are many countries emerging from conflict. Why care about Mali?

“Like eating soup with a knife”: Peter O Toole (right) portrays TE Lawrence, with Omar Sharif, in the 1962 film, “Lawrence of Arabia” ©Kobal/The Picture Desk/AFP

Insurgency is a cause of underdevelopment in large areas of West Africa, holding back the task of achieving social and economic progress. 

African Economic Outlook 2015/OECD

The financial landscape has changed considerably in Africa since 2000. Private external flows in the form of investment and remittances now drive growth in external finance, according to the African Economic Outlook 2015. Foreign investments are expected to reach US$73.5 billion in 2015, underpinned by increasing greenfield investment from China, India and South Africa.

OECD

Since democracy was restored in 1999, Nigeria has engaged in ambitious reforms towards greater market liberalisation and economic openness. By far the most populous country of the continent–with more than 170 million people Nigeria is home to 18% of Africa’s population–it now claims to be the largest
economy in Africa, with an estimated nominal GDP of US$510 billion. Its GDP growth has never been below 5% since 2003, and since 2009, it has become the preferred destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa, ahead of South Africa.

What will fuel Africa’s economic growth and development? Will urban centres be the spark? Will agricultural areas drive productivity? The answer is both.

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q2 2018 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.9% Sept 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.2% Sept 2018
Last update: 13 Nov 2018

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