African leaders push for investments at summit

2016-02-20 22:33
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi delivers a speech during the Africa 2016 forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. (Mohamed el-Shahed, AFP)

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi delivers a speech during the Africa 2016 forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. (Mohamed el-Shahed, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sharm el Sheikh - African leaders and bankers vowed at an economic summit in Egypt Saturday to push for trade and investments on the continent despite growing security concerns in the region.

More than 1 200 delegates including some heads of state plan to sign business agreements during the next two days 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.

Analysts say that despite its economic growth rate of more than four percent, Africa still accounts for about only two percent of global trade.

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 co-operation" between African businessmen and overseas investors.

Organisers are also seeking to turn the spotlight on Egypt as its economy remains sluggish after years of political turmoil following the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.

Heavily dependent on tourism, Egypt's economy was dealt a body blow when a Russian airliner broke up in mid-air last October 31, minutes after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh.

All 224 people on board, mostly Russian tourists, were killed when the aircraft blew up over the Sinai Peninsula. The jihadist Islamic State group said it brought down the jet with a bomb.

Egypt says it still has no evidence that a bomb downed the plane, although Moscow has acknowledged that a "terrorist attack" caused the disaster.

"Africa 2016 forum is expected to position Egypt as a gateway for foreign investments into African markets," Omar Ben Yedder, a member of the organising committee, told AFP.

Security concerns

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.

Trade officials say African investors should spearhead growth in the continent, which can come from developing the region's infrastructure.

"Investments in infrastructure will unlock the true potential of Africa," 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.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said that growing security concerns in Africa were absorbing huge resources, however.

"The new problem affecting investments is international terrorism... lot of resources that could be used for development are being diverted to address security issues," Buhari said.

Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, is fighting a brutal insurgency launched by Boko Haram in 2009.

Boko Haram, which wants a hardline Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has killed some 17 000 people and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes since the insurgency began.

Bankers say that the continent still remains a growth area, however.

"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 told AFP.

The continent still has 645 million people without access to electricity, he said, and the only way to address the issue is to widen private sector participation in the energy sector.

Africa's economy is projected to grow by 4.4% 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 said.

Read more on:    egypt  |  africa 2016

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.