Keeping Africa rising

According to AfDB, external financial inflows, tax revenues and regional integration would remain key drivers of Africa’s development and growth prospects.

The agriculture sector accounts for 15% of GDP and provides the primary income for 90% of the rural population.

Speaking at the official opening of the Kigali meeting, Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, said African countries evolved effective policies but often fell short when it came to implementation: "We know what needs to be done. Our countries have smart policies that we have seen work elsewhere in the world. But the kind of rapid progress we all want will only be achieved by sound implementation."

Governments needed to prioritise the creation of environments that encouraged innovation and entrepreneurship.

Since 2007 intra-African investment had grown at 32%, more than double that of non-African emerging markets. "Further progress depends on Africa’s ability to work together and with other partners on meaningful mechanisms to resolve conflicts. It also calls for continued strengthening of our respective internal systems to prevent conflicts in the first place," Kagame told delegates.

Nigeria’s minister of agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, said that agriculture, the future of Africa’s socio-economic development, should be managed as a business, and not as a social activity. Governments must focus on incentivising farmers, rolling out mechanisation and irrigation programmes and finding markets for produce.

“We need to use production methods that add value and volume to the produce coming from farms," said Adesina.

According to Philip Kiriro of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), only 2% of Africa’s graduates were in agriculture and more should be encouraged through incentivising, training and mentorship.

"We should also insist on organising farmers into cooperatives, developing village markets, and set up processing plants and storage facilities to improve the value chain of crops," said Kiriro.

Visionary leadership and a pragmatic approach could make a difference, said the bank’s chief economist and vice-president, Mthuli Ncube. Transformational, principled leadership in government, business and civil society was critical to strengthen governance and to achieve other broad objectives. Development outcomes would be determined by changes in mindset and policies adopted by Africans.

Ncube said leadership was a skill that could be acquired. "It’s important we introduce the subject of leadership in the curricula at all levels of our educational system and instill characteristics of good leadership in our young people early on. This will not only make ‘finding’ good leaders easier in the future, it will also help our people make the right choices when selecting a leader."

Africa needed increased accountability and policy leadership at all levels of society to succeed in growth and transformation. The difference between success and failure was determined by leaders who maintained focus on long-term results in the face of short-term problems, said Ncube.