African leaders and bankers vowed at an economic summit in Egypt to push for trade and investments on the continent despite the growing threat of “terrorism” in the region. More than 1,200 delegates including some heads of state were in talks to sign business agreements during the two-day summit at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, aimed at attracting private sector investment.
Organisers hope the “Africa 2016” conference can build on a 26-nation free trade pact signed last year to create a common market on half of the continent. The forum was aimed at “pushing forward trade and investment in our continent to strengthen Africa’s place in the world economy”, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in opening remarks.
Sisi said the conference aims to present investment opportunities in Africa and “open a direct channel of communication and cooperation” between African businessmen and overseas investors. Those attending the summit organised by Egypt and the African Union include the presidents of Sudan, Nigeria, Togo, and Gabon, and dozens of African ministers and senior trade and investment officials.
“When our own people invest then other investors get convinced,” said Sindiso Ngwenya, head of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). He added that trade and investments within COMESA had surged from $837 million in 2007 to $12 billion currently.
Bankers say despite these challenges, the continent remains an investment destination. “We plan to invest 12 billion dollars in the energy sector over the next five years… so that people in Africa can have universal access to electricity,” Africa Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina said.
Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 4.4 percent this year and five percent in 2017 as against three percent growth expected in developed countries, he said. “Africa is doing well despite the challenges it is facing,” Adesina concluded.