He noted, it was time the OECD and Africa established a relationship based on trade and investment cooperation, based on Africa’s abundant natural resources base that the world needs.
The President made the call on Wednesday when he addressed the 18th OECD International Forum on Africa in Paris.
He told the Forum that Africa’s many natural resources could form the base for processing industries and allied downstream manufacturing industries across, and the continent’s uncultivated arable land could yield enormous benefits in the provision of food stuffs, and diversified, agro-based economic activities.
President Akufo-Addo further pointed out Africa’s youthful and growing labour force, which, he said, when empowered, with access to education and skills training, constituted a powerful tool for economic development in Africa and the world.
He noted that with Africa’s population of some 1.2 billion, expected to increase to 2 billion people in 20 years, and as a result of industrialisation and the structural transformation of African economies, represented a huge market that exporters in OECD countries could compete for, with significant potential employment and income impacts in those countries.
“So, there are tremendous opportunities for shared prosperity for OECD and African countries in Africa’s rapid economic growth and transformation,” he added.
To this end, President Akufo-Addo has urged OECD countries to focus their support on growth-enhancing interventions, particularly infrastructure, and skills development.
With Africa’s infrastructure needs amounting to some $170 billion a year, with a financing gap of some $108 billion, the President explained that investments in areas of infrastructural development and skills training for Africa’s youth will help the continent to leverage its natural and human resources for rapid inclusive growth and economic transformation.
The President also urged the OECD to simplify its processes, particularly for infrastructure projects, stating that processes for accessing funds, within member countries of the OECD, had become cumbersome.
As a result of this cumbersome process, the President stated that African countries were beginning to turn to other sources, explaining that set against the slow and cumbersome OECD processes, and in light of Africa’s desire for rapid progress, other sources were attractive.
“A clear solution is to simplify and expedite the OECD processes, while maintaining transparency. Currently, the processes for developing and financing infrastructural projects are developed by OECD institutions to reflect your concerns, with little inputs from African countries to reflect our concerns and aspirations,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo pushed for the establishment of a joint Africa-OECD Technical Committee to design procedures for processing infrastructural projects in Africa, including; public-private projects (PPPs); procedures that take into consideration the concerns of both parties.
“My Government will like to initiate the discussion on constituting the joint Technical Committee in consultation with others, such as the African Union (AU) Commission, the OECD Development Centre, the ADB, the World Bank, the Compact with Africa (CWA), and the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) in Accra, which has been helping to coordinate peer-learning among the CWA countries,” the President said.
He urged OECD countries to build strategic partnerships focused on Africa’s growth and transformation, indicating that it would be a win-win for African countries and members of the OECD.
“I am very encouraged by Germany’s CWA initiative, which should be strongly supported and emulated by all OECD countries.
“I am also equally encouraged by the recent enactment by the U.S. Congress of the “Better Utilisation of Investment Leading to Development Act (the ‘BUILD Act’)”, which creates a strong and well-capitalised (US$60 billion) Development Finance Institution– the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC)–to help finance, and also crowd in private finance to help build prosperity in low- and middle-income countries,” he said.
Africa, President Akufo-Addo noted, welcomed and commended the renewed ambition in the United States to support prosperity outside her shores, and “to build a self-reliant Africa”.
“We look forward to working closely with them. We urge other OECD countries to follow suit, and strengthen their existing efforts in this regard,” he added.
This story was first published by BusinessGhana