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Africa Prosperity Dialogues 2025 will focus on bridging the continent’s infrastructure gap

The 2025 Africa Prosperity Dialogues is themed; “Delivering Africa's Prosperity Through Infrastructure: Invest, Integrate, Connect.”

Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD 2025) will focus on unearthing innovative ways through which African heads of state, business leaders, and the private sector, can combine forces to bridge the continent’s infrastructure deficit and shore up the levels of intra-Africa trade.

The APD 2025 will be held in Accra, Ghana from Thursday, 30 January to Saturday, 1 February 2025, on the theme; “Delivering Africa’s Prosperity Through Infrastructure: Invest, Integrate, Connect,” and it is expected to attract over one thousand participants from across the continent.

Africa’s future

Addressing participants at the launch of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues 2025 at the secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Africa Trade House, in Accra on Monday, 13 May 2024, Executive Chairman of Africa Prosperity Network (APN), organisers of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD) Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, said investing in continent’s infrastructure space is pivotal to achieving the vision set out in the AfCFTA agreement.

“Despite the continent’s potential, its infrastructure gap serves as a more potent blockade. The success of AfCFTA hinges on key enablers, such as energy, water, R&D, ICT, transport & logistics, and the digital economy. This calls for substantial investments in infrastructure, that will yield even greater rewards, enabling our efforts to create a larger pool of good jobs with good pay.

“We stand at a critical juncture in history, where unlocking prosperity, now more than ever, depends on prioritising investment in infrastructure, connecting our people through infrastructure, and integrating our economies to create and spread opportunities and prosperity to every community,” Mr Otchere-Darko said in his opening statement.

“This is where we must now direct our collaborative efforts if we are serious about allowing Africans to do business across Africa and for our young people, who will build Africa, to see their future in Africa. At APN, we envision an Africa where every bridge built serves as a flyover to opportunity, and every road paved leads to prosperity.

“[We intend] to use the next APDs to show what is being done, what has to be done, and what we must commit to having done in the areas of infrastructure to facilitate the free movement of people, goods, and services. Our future as a people rests heavily on our ability to reimagine how to fund and link infrastructural developments and our boldness to get on with it” Otchere-Darko added.

Continental Challenge

Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Ghana’s Minister for Finance in his remarks at the launch ceremony pointed out that “an estimated 546 million people are now living in poverty, and 149 million “non-poor” Africans are at risk of falling into it.

Furthermore, Dr Amin Adam said the UNECA estimates that the annual Sustainable Development Goal financing gap for developing countries has increased by $1.7 trillion” and these indicators demonstrate the fact that the continent’s work is cut out for her.

“The challenges we face, from infrastructure deficits to economic disparities, require collective action and partnership on a continental scale. Therefore, the theme of next year’s Africa Prosperity Dialogues, “Delivering Africa’s Prosperity through Infrastructure: Invest. Integrate. Connect.” resonates deeply with Ghana’s vision for a more interconnected and prosperous Africa and AU agenda 2063.

“Africa’s infrastructure deficit impedes economic growth and development. Inadequate networks of road, rail, air, and waterways make transport costs in Africa among the highest in the world. The African Development Bank estimates that closing the continent’s infrastructure gap will require a minimum of $130 billion annually,” Mohammed Amin Adam, remarked.

“Moreover, deficient infrastructure in today’s Africa has been found to sap growth by as much as 2% a year. Quite frankly, we have a continental problem that requires a continental solution. As such, we must redouble our efforts to invest in critical infrastructure projects, including transportation, energy, and digital connectivity, to unlock Africa’s full potential for trade and investment,” Ghana’s Finance Minister further remarked.

The financing gap

The president for Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialization at the African Development Bank Mr Solomon Quaynor, in his key partner message at the launch of APD 2025 indicated that to address the African continent’s infrastructure shortfall, the continent needs about 130 to 170 billion dollars a year with a financing gap of 70 to a 110 billion dollars.

“This financing gap is increased as we aim to ensure that all infrastructure today is climate change resilient or compliant. So, closing this gap remains the single important step we can take to structurally boost our economic development, make it more inclusive and competitive, and attain the Africa we want,” Mr Quaynor said.

Funding

The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Charles Abani on his part observed that Africa must find the funding resources to be able to bridge the 170 billion dollar financing gap that currently is the reality of the continent of Africa.

The African continent according to Charles Abani, must prioritise projects that have a high impact on economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction.

“We must leverage technology and innovation to drive efficiency, sustainability, and importantly, inclusivity in our infrastructure development and lastly, we must bring everybody on board. If you want to go fast, they say, go alone, if you want to go far, go together,” Mr Abani said.

Digital infrastructure

High Commissioner of Rwanda to Ghana, Her Excellency, Rosemary Mbabazi in her statement noted that African countries must prioritise the development of digital infrastructure to boost digital trade on the continent.

Ms Mbabazi observed that while it is important to build all the other infrastructure needs of all the continent, digital infrastructure if developed, can serve as a critical launch pad to propel trade in Africa.

She pointed out that to achieve the levels of digital trade required, several key elements should be given attention. First, is the regulatory environment, second, is connectivity that will ensure widespread access to high-speed internet, particularly in rural areas.

Third, digital Identity infrastructure, fourth, digital payments, and lastly, establishing a robust cyber security environment on the continent that will protect businesses and their customers against cyber threats.

Panel discussion

As part of the launch, a three-member panel conversation on the theme; “The Infrastructure Gab – Addressing the Bane of Africans Doing Business within Africa,” was held. The panel comprised Mr Moh Damush, Group CEO of Telecel, Mrs Marufatu Abiola Bawuah, Executive Director/CEO Africa for United Bank for Africa, and Mr Kofi Osafo-Marfo, Director General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ghana, and Mr John Peter Amewu, Ghana’s Minister for Railway Development.

The panel of experts in their submissions pointed out that to make progress in the continent’s quest to build its infrastructure, there is a need for a joint effort on the part of all stakeholders such as government, businesses, the private sector, and the investor community, to bridge the infrastructure gap.

Africa Prosperity Network (APN)

The Africa Prosperity Network (APN) is a non-profit private organisation founded with the objective of advancing the vision of “The Africa We Want” as outlined in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, striving to promote Africa’s progress, independent of external aid.

Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD)

The Africa Prosperity Dialogues series offers a strategic platform where the movers and shakers of the African economy elevate the economic integration objectives from ambitions to real actions.

Set in Accra, Ghana, the APD is a one-of-a-kind event where African leaders from diverse areas of national endeavour gather each year to expedite, among other things, the implementation of the agreed initiatives within the AfCFTA trade bloc, and shape the Africa Agenda for Action.

APD brings into practical focus, the continent’s critical challenges and industrialisation priorities and advance aggressively the commercial and infrastructural interventions to achieve the vision of an Africa Beyond Aid.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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