Kathy Gibson reports from the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town – Africa is rich in opportunities, but the continent has to do more to make these opportunities a reality.
This is the word from Anthony Jenkins, group chief executive of Barclays, who points out that countries around the world are experiencing structurally lower GDP growth and have to compete more vigorously.
“There are no free rides anymore,” he says. “Africa will have to work hard going forward.”
Two areas that he thinks are important are financial inclusion and the promotion of trade.
“Eighty percent of sub-Saharan African people have no access to financial systems, which makes it very hard to build economic stability, build enterprises and generate growth. This is critical.
He points out that companies around the world are interested in doing business in Africa. “We need to continue to facilitate and promote that trade as a spur to economic growth,” Jenkins says.
“There is a lot that can be done, but it won’t just happen. We will all have to work together for Africa to reach its potential.”
Patrice Motsepe, founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, agrees that Africa and the world are going through a challenging economic period.
“It is important we recognise the need to remain globally competitive to attract investment,” he says. “I cannot over-emphasise this. Sometimes we see good things and we assume they will continue; almost as if we have a right to expect the African economy will do well. But that is not correct. When the most successful economies cease to be an attractive investment destination, the good work is stalled and in many respects goes backwards.”
He points out that perceptions about corruption in Africa are increasing and urges the continent to adopt a zero-tolerance stance to corruption.
Xenophobia is also a concern, Motsepe adds. “In South Africa, our future is inextricably intertwined with the continent. We have to welcome migrants and create a dispensation that is tolerant and accommodating.”
“It’s not about what the politicians say about investment. It’s what the investors say that is important.”
Sir Michael Rake, chairman of BT, adds that intra-African trade is going to be important for the future of the continent.