Make AfCFTA a reality

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By Abdoul Salam Bello, Advisor to the Executive Director, Group Africa II, World Bank Group; Visiting Fellow, Africa Center, Atlantic Council; and Author of “La régionalisation en Afrique: Essai sur un processus d’intégration et de développement” (L’Harmattan 2017)


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


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The March 2018 signing of the framework agreement to form a continental free-trade zone throughout Africa is raising a lot of expectations. In fact, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would be the largest free trade agreement since the founding of the World Trade Organization. It will include 1 billion people and up to USD 3 trillion of cumulative GDP.

Amongst the AfCFTA’s expectations is a significant boost in intra-trade. At just an 18% share of total trade, Africa has the lowest levels of intra-continental trade in the world. While the continent’s trading blocs have helped to improve these figures, the level of intra-trade in Africa is a far cry from the levels witnessed in Latin America (35%) and Asia (45%). Furthermore, Africa’s intra-continental trade has been substantially outpaced by trade with the rest of the world – often by as much as 90%.

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Building Trust: How the development community can engage the private sector

By Janet Longmore, Founder & CEO, Digital Opportunity Trust

Giant puzzle pieces

Fundamental to my organisation’s success in delivering local impact against several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been developing an ecosystem of global and local in-country partners. And critical to this ecosystem is private sector participation: Corporate partners bring a different lens on what we do, a welcome push for innovation, creative approaches and efficiencies, and a business-like approach and priority to sustainability. Through mutual trust, we are now co-designing new initiatives that lead to positive impact for development and businesses.

I am a strong advocate for engaging the private sector in effective development. The private sector is often a strong and effective contributor to local development in the countries, cities and towns in which its offices are located and where its employees live, generously supporting local services. The challenge now is to extend local purpose and responsibility from “down the street” to a global perspective within the SDG framework. I advocate for this on the Business Leaders’ Caucus of the Global Partnership (1).

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Three things we have learned about investing in African small businesses and in fragile countries

By Jean-Michel Severino, CEO of Investisseurs & Partenaires

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Africa’s small and medium businesses (SMEs) form what is often called the “missing middle” of African economies. The smaller the investment ticket is, the higher the transaction and monitoring costs are, reducing the net profitability for investors. In addition, the poorer and more fragile the country is,  the riskier the investments are. These are well-known facts amongst private equity professionals. Small businesses require small investments but also long gestation periods, as well as sizeable personalised financing and access to specific expertise and knowledge. Fragile countries require in-depth knowledge of the environment in all its dimensions to make wise choices. This is why so few investors are willing and able to finance small African businesses and invest in complex local situations. The choice of supporting these businesses and investing in fragile countries is primarily a choice of impact. It implies several adjustments to ensure the sustainability of the investment fund.

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Ever heard of SDG washing? The urgency of SDG Due Diligence

By Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct


September 25, 2017 marks World SDG Action Day.


SDG-dayA couple of months ago during the OECD’s Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct,1 I heard a new term: SDG washing. After green washing and blue washing – using a UN logo to signpost sustainability without doing much – the term SDG washing points to businesses that use the Sustainable Development Goals to market their positive contribution to some SDGs while ignoring their negative impact on others. For example, a car company may market their electric cars as saving the climate (SDG 13↑). Yet, the cobalt in their batteries may be mined by five-year old kids in Congo (SDG 8 ↓).

It is clear that the world will never reach the SDGs without businesses. While businesses can make positive contributions, such as creating jobs, finding innovative solutions for climate challenges or contributing to human capital development, they can also cause or contribute to negative impacts, such as exploiting labour in supply chains, damaging the environment or engaging in corrupt practices. Businesses should pay due attention to ensure that they avoid undermining the SDGs by causing or contributing to negative impacts. Continue reading

Implementing industrialisation strategies in Africa

By Dirk Willem te Velde, Director of Supporting Economic Transformation Programme and Head of International Economic Development Group, ODI


Explore this topic further with the upcoming launch of the
2017 African Economic Outlook: Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation in Africa.
Stay tuned for details


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A cursory look at national and pan-Africa policy statements suggests that many African countries have a strong desire to industrialise. They have a point: manufacturing creates jobs, diffuses technology and makes the economy more resilient. Unfortunately, much analysis points to a reduction recently in the share of manufacturing as a percent of GDP on the continent, although significant progress is being made in selected countries. Real manufacturing value added has grown around 7% annually or more over 2005-2015 in Tanzania, Rwanda or Ethiopia. And few realise that real manufacturing production and exports of manufacturing doubled in sub-Saharan Africa in the decade to 2015.1

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Little changes for women entrepreneurs in Africa unless mindsets and policies change

By Mike Herrington, Executive Director, GEM Global


Explore this topic further with the upcoming launch of the
2017 African Economic Outlook: Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation in Africa.
Stay tuned for details.


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Women selling eggs in Kigali, Rwanda

In the last decade, most countries in Africa underwent radical transformation, increased their GDP per capita and moved towards globalisation. Just look at Botswana where GDP per capita increased from USD 7 136 in 2013 to USD 7 505 in 2014, or Cameroon that saw an increase from USD 1 271 to USD 1 405, or Nigeria that experienced a jump from USD 1 692 to USD 3298 during the same period.1 

 However, to move closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the continent needs to change the mindset of people and pursue policies to boost the development of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) to help reduce poverty and unemployment, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
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Increasing impact through partnerships

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By Francesco Starace, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of ENEL SpA


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
Global Forum on Development on 5 April 2017
Register today to attend


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A view from the community of Ollagüe

Planet Earth is changing, evolving, with such speed and disruption that humans have been forced to question many of the things that used to be taken for granted. This is due in great part to the digitalisation of a world that is ever more interconnected, and therefore increasingly complex.

Whilst this complexity and change might bring about some discomfort initially, it is important not to fight it. It is inevitable, and it must happen. It is much better that humankind embraces it. Doing so means being willing to open up to new ideas, to the potential of new technology, and to listen to what people want and need.
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