The European Business Council for Africa

On 6th July Invest Africa hosted the 8th Africa Debate, in person at The Guildhall, London, assembling over 350 business and policy leaders from over 40 countries, to discuss the most pressing social and economic issues facing the African continent. The EBCAM team attended this event and found it to be highly informative, having the opportunity to hear from high-level stakeholders in private sector investments in Africa, an all-round invaluable experience. 

Summary of Points:

  • The combination of the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war has destabilised the geopolitical landscape. The global economy is facing extremely high levels of volatility defined by supply chain shocks and high inflation.
  • Given the continent’s heavy reliance on commodities and the depletion of public finances during the pandemic, Africa is vulnerable to external shocks and faces a challenging period over the short-term.
  • Over the longer-term, there are a series of global headwinds that could align in Africa’s favour including supply chain realignment, demand for natural resources, demographic trends, the push to invest in green solutions, and deepening regional integration.
  • The imperative to secure reliable supply chains in the wake of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine as well as the need to reduce emissions have resulted in an increasing push towards near-shoring of processing. As a leading supplier of natural resources, this could play in Africa’s favour if the continent can invest in its manufacturing and processing capacity.
  • Demographic growth is both Africa’s greatest challenge as well as its greatest strategic opportunity. With a rapidly growing young population, Africa will represent one third of the global workforce by 2050. With sufficient investment in skills and job creation, Africa has the potential to become a global production hub.
  • Africa has a central role to play in the global race to net zero. The continent’s mineral reserves are essential to the rapid upscaling of renewable energy, while leveraging green investment into the continent will be critical to meeting net-zero targets as the region continues to expand energy access.
  • The continent’s leaders should go into negotiations at COP27 with a clear vision of Africa’s role and ensure that its resources are developed to create prosperity on the continent.
  • Businesses and investors continue to demonstrate support for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and its ability to transform Africa’s economies from dependence on primary products to exports of value added goods. The implementation process still has a long road to run with further investments in infrastructure and financial services needed.
  • Filling Africa’s finance gap remains one the greatest challenges facing the continent against a particularly challenging macro-economic backdrop.
  • The financial services sector and development finance community should build partnerships to find financial models best adapted to Africa’s market profile. Expanding the use of multilateral guarantees, developing local pensions funds and deepening Africa’s capital markets could all aid in mobilising private capital in the region.
  • In contrast to the global trend towards fragmentation, Africa has demonstrated its commitment to regional unity through the challenges of the pandemic. Taking a continental approach will help the region renegotiate its role in the global economy, create more attractive markets and build resilience to external shocks.

Please read the full report.