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2024 Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD) will focus on delivering prosperity for the continent

The APD, organised in collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat, will seek to emphasise the unique opportunity the AfCFTA offers the African continent

The Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD), scheduled to take place in Ghana in the Akuapem Hills from Thursday 25 to Saturday 27 January 2024, will have as their overarching focus the need to propose concrete measures which will lead to Africans achieving prosperity for the African continent.

The APD, organised in close collaboration with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, based in the capital city of Ghana, Accra, will also seek to emphasise the unique opportunity that the AfCFTA offers Africa and her people to break free from the pervasive perceptions of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment with which the continent is so often associated.

These, among many other objectives, came to the fore when officials of the Africa Prosperity Network (APN), the main organiser of APD 2024, and those of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat briefed the press in Ghana today (15 January 2024).

The discussions took place ahead of the 2024 Dialogues at an event in the AfCFTA Conference Room of Africa Trade House, Accra.

Big push

Addressing members of the press at the briefing, Gabby Otchere-Darko, the founder and executive chairman of APN, said the APD is an instrument to be used to push implementation of the AfCFTA to achieve Africa’s economic integration, the non-negotiable principle which will lead to shared prosperity across the African continent.

“If the AfCFTA is going to work, there must be a big push within the first ten years, the first decade, of the agreement coming into force – that is between 2021 and 2031 – because if we can’t get it right now, we will never get it right,” Otchere-Darko said.

He observed that the AfCFTA is the biggest project since the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union), that the idea of a single market is about the economy and that the driver of the economy is the private sector.

To this end, he said, it was important to find a way to let the private sector in Africa own th AfCFTA and to drive it. For this to happen, Otchere-Darko argued, it ought to be done in partnership with the political leadership on the continent, which is what the APD aims to achieve.

He further stressed the important role the media is expected to play for the partnership between the private sector and political leaders as envisaged by the APD to materialise. He urged members of the press to take a keen interest in the APD and use their platforms to promote the agenda of the AfCFTA and the outcomes of APD 2024.

Gabby Otchere-Darko and (right) Silver Ojakol, chief of staff to the AfCFTA secretary general, Wamkele Mene

AfCFTA/APD partnership

The chief of staff at the AfCFTA Secretariat, Silver Ojakol, speaking on behalf of the AfCFTA secretary general, Wamkele Mene, said the Secretariat considers the APD a vital component of its machinery and a source of policy implementation initiatives that will help drive the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade 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.

Ojakol said that AfCFTA is looking forward to the rich implementation proposals that will be made at APD 2024 and will, he pledged, be embraced by the Secretariat.

Transforming Africa’s fortunes

Dr Eugene Owusu, a member of the board of the Africa Prosperity Network (APN), identified four important areas on which the African continent will have to focus to transform its fortunes.

The first, he told guests at the briefing, is the quest to define a new, positive narrative owned by the continent and its people.

For far too long, Dr Owusu said, 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 underdevelopment cannot be our narrative. Although we may have a lot of poor people on this continent, Africa is not a poor continent,” he asserted.

Among guests at the briefing were high-level directors of the AfCFTA Secretariat, based in Accra

“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 Owusu added.

Africa, he argued, must also be deliberate and work with pentecostal conviction to transform its development misfortunes, focusing on the cardinal importance of deepening intra-African trade.

The continent must also scale up production of goods and services, add value to what is produced, and address frontally the obstacles to deeper intra-African trade.

APD 2024 thematic areas

The chief executive officer of the Africa Prosperity Network, Njack Kane, shared the major thematic areas that will form the subjects to be discussed by the multiple panels taking part n the 2024 Dialogues.

These thematic areas, he said, will be agriculture and food sovereignty, natural resources and value addition, infrastructure and information communications technology (ICT), and finance and investment.

Motivation for APD 2024

Gayheart Mensah, a member of the APN board of directors, presented an overview of why APD 2024 is themed “Delivering Prosperity in Africa: Produce, Add Value, Trade”.

Africa is a continent rich in natural resources and human capital, he noted, and it has vast deposits of diamonds, iron, oil, natural gas, gold, uranium, copper and cobalt – all told, about 30% of the world’s mineral reserves.

The continent, he further said, has 12% of the world’s oil and 8% of global natural gas reserves, as well as immense potential for developing hydroelectric power, solar energy and geothermal energy. It has vast reserves of arable land, water, minerals, forests and wildlife, as well as over 1.4 billion people, making it the second most populous continent after Asia.

The panel at the APD 2024 media briefing at Africa Trade House, Accra

The combined gross domestic product of Central, East, Southern and West Africa will reach $29 trillion by 2050 and the population of the continent is expected to rise to nearly 2.5 billion by the same year.

Despite these vast resources, there is widespread poverty in Africa, underemployment and underdevelopment. Over 40% of the population still lives below the international poverty line – and yet the continent’s potential for growth and development is immense.

“There is much to be optimistic about,” Gayheart Mensah said. “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,” 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 inflows. 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,” Mensah concluded.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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