UN officials on Thursday in New York 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.
Mr. John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly, who spoke at the thematic debate on the promotion of investment in Africa, said Africa needed to bridge a huge financing gap and 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 had been considerable investment in many African countries, including those with the highest growth rates, noting that, foreign direct investment (FDI) towards the continent had steadily increased since 2000.
However, he added, much of this investment had been related to resource extraction and exports, and had not led to the enhancement of productive capacity and/or much-needed job creation.
Similarly, he said that despite considerable natural resource endowments, there had not been equitable distribution of the benefits of the revenues earned from their extraction, nor had such revenues been used to boost industrialization and development strategies.
Mr. Ashe stated that as a consequence, critical financing gaps remained, particularly with regard to agriculture, industrialization and infrastructure development.
On his part, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the meeting that his travels in Africa had given him a first-hand look at the dynamism and promise of the continent.
Ban said that the UN estimated that Africa’s overall growth would 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,” he said, adding that serious obstacles still existed to more inclusive and sustainable economic and social development.
He said that to end extreme poverty and provide inclusive prosperity, Africa needed enabling environments that promoted investment and reduced risk, as well as the wise management of the proceeds so they supported sustainable development.
The UN chief said: “Investment is essential, and when it is the right investment, it can be effective, benefitting people, businesses and governments alike.”
Ban also stressed that, it was essential to harness all sources of investment and finance, including public and private, domestic and external and ensure they complement edeach other.