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Monday, 12 June 2017

Germany’s initiative on Africa must be seized

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is to be applauded for placing a new G20 Partnership with Africa on the agenda of the upcoming G20 Summit. The conference she is hosting this week in Berlin with several African leaders should be its first building block. As Africans and investors, we share her view of the potential of Africa’s many emerging economies. But there is great risk if we do not seize this potential positively. The continent’s population has doubled since 1985 and will double again to 2.5bn by 2050. Twenty-two and a half million new jobs are required each year. By 2050, two in five of the world’s youth will be African, outnumbering the youth of the European Union by 10 to one. Much of this population surge is occurring in countries that are being undermined by organised crime and extremist ideologies. The stakes in terms of the long term security of Africa, and of neighbouring Europe and the wider G20, are very high.We must urgently remedy the lack of investment into this African youth boom. A hundred million African children who should be in school are not, the majority of them girls. Hundreds of millions more are in school but not learning the skills they need to get a job, nor are they receiving the nutrition necessary to grow their minds and bodies. Specifically, the German-hosted G20 is proposing “compacts with Africa” for certain countries stepping forward for enhanced investment partnerships. These compacts may become a potent vehicle for prompting private investment and job-creating growth in Africa. But the framework for the compacts must be deepened and extended to ensure that they are fit for purpose.It must be deepened by accessing more project-preparation finance and risk insurance, by coordinating technical assistance and by streamlining regulations. It must be extended by offering the compacts not just to states already doing better but also to some of Africa’s less economically robust states, as they need extra support to succeed and their failure will undermine their neighbours. Across Africa, agriculture is the biggest employer. It also has the greatest potential, not only to ensure food security but also to generate jobs and to distribute wealth.

Source: Financial Times