Buhari legacy

Business leaders say underinvestment, policy inertia holding Africa back

African leaders in government and business have said that the growth of the continent has been held back by underinvestment, lack of good policies, structural challenges and female exclusion.

They made this known at the annual Africa Business Convention 2023, themed “Africa connected” which held at the Eko Hotels & Suites on Tuesday, February 7.

“Our policies are not progressively constructed to harmonize the efforts of the continent,” said Adenike Macaulay, CEO of Wakanow at the event which was organised by BusinessDay.

Macaulay said the government needs to put policies in place to fast track infrastructure development as well as trading among countries on the continent, both of which are necessary for robust economic growth.

“There are some incoherent policies that do not promote free trade,” said Macaulay.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that Africa’s economy will grow by 3.7 percent in 2023,

Growth in sub-Saharan Africa probably slowed sharply to 3.6 percent in 2022 and is expected to remain subdued at 3.7 percent in 2023, according to the IMF

Kofo Awolow, CEO of Woven Finance said “We are trading more across the world than within Africa. The players in the fintech space and regulators should look across the issue of trading within Africa.”

She said “the cashless policy is one way to try to digitalise and if we want to do Inter-African trade we should address the issue of infrastructure.”

Akindele Akintoye, founder and CEO of Platform Capital, said that poor management remains a major issue affecting the growth of Africa.

“Small, and medium enterprises do not need big money to be established and supported,” he said. “We are our own problem.”

Akintoye said the fundamental action to engender growth of the continent is to invest in the people and their businesses.

Africa’s fast-growing population and markets present important opportunities for business in an environment of slowing global growth. At the same time, greater innovation and investment from business is essential to meet Africa’s unfulfilled demand for goods and services, close the gaps in its infrastructure, create jobs, and decrease poverty.

Benson Alfred Bana, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Nigeria said for the enhancement of Africa connectivities, Africa has been given different names, but it’s a continent that can feed the world, but the success of the continent has been undermined by a number of factors.

Similarly, Ibukun Awosika, founder and CEO of the Chair Centre group, said that indecision and sluggish action is another factor hindering the growth of Africa as a continent.

“We are deciding instead of engaging on how it will serve us. We are deciding whether to take a negative position instead of starting with the positive.

“We need to mitigate that problem and solve the problem. We need to think about ourselves and find how we create our unicorns and find innovative ways to grow,” she said.

According to Brookings Institutions’ Africa Growth Initiative Report, Africa’s current population of around 1.2 billion people is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030, with Africa importing over 40 billion dollars worth of food.

Read also: BusinessDay hosts 2023 Africa Business Convention

Tito Alai, director of communication and event AFREXIM, said that unless we trade with each other, the African continent cannot build a market that can scale.

“Africa imports more than 40 billion dollars worth of food every year, unless we trade among ourselves, there won’t be a market to scale on to build expansion to the rest of the world.” Alai said.

“I believe in Africa, we have natural resources, we have smart people, so aren’t we on top?We need to focus on food security, energy. We need more African countries to realize this” Alai said.

Ndubuisi Nwokolo, partner and chief executive, Nextier security, peace and development said that there is a need to create integration among the African continent and also enable the right government to address issues.

“We should begin the integration process; we shouldn’t start in the backyard, while also dealing with institutional challenges and corruption problems. We must consider the style of government we want in order to tackle the issue, “said Nwokolo.

With the rise in migration among Nigerians also known as ‘japa’, Pai Gamde, chief talent officer at Coronation said that both organization and the government need to take a variety of actions to create an atmosphere that is favourable enough for businesses to flourish.

“Reinvention is what is needed to incorporate, especially where now we live in the world of uncertainties,” Gamde said