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Gabby Otchere-Darko calls for need to invest in infrastructure to unleash Africa’s prosperity

Gabby Otchere Darko calls for need to invest in infrastructure to unleash Africa's prosperity

By Hannah Dadzie

Founder and Executive Chairman of Africa Prosperity Network (APN), organizers of Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD), Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, has called for the need to invest in infrastructure to unleash Africa’s potential and its drive to prosperity.

Speaking at the launch of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues 2025 at the secretariat of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Africa Trade House, in Accra on Monday, May 13, 2024, Mr Otchere Darko, said despite the continent’s potential, its infrastructure gap serves as a more potent blockade.

He said it has become critical now more than ever, because unlocking the continent’s prosperity depends on prioritizing investment in infrastructure, connecting people through infrastructure, and integrating to economies to create and spread opportunities and prosperity to every community.

“The success of AfCFTA hinges on key enablers, such as energy, water, R&D, ICT, transport & logistics, and the digital economy. This calls for substantial investments in infrastructure, that will yield even greater rewards, enabling our efforts to create a larger pool of good jobs with good pay,” Mr Otchere Darko indicated.

The Executive Chairman, said there must be collaborative efforts to allow Africans to do business across continent, and for the young generation to see their future in Africa.

“At APN, we envision an Africa where every bridge built serves as a flyover to opportunity, and every road paved leads to prosperity. [We intend] to use the next APDs to show what is being done, what has to be done, and what we must commit to having done in the areas of infrastructure to facilitate the free movement of people, goods, and services. Our future as a people rests heavily on our ability to reimagine how to fund and link infrastructural developments and our boldness to get on with it,” Otchere-Darko added.

In his remarks, the Minister of Finance, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, pointed out that “an estimated 546 million people are now living in poverty, and 149 million “non-poor” Africans are at risk of falling into it. Dr Amin Adam also indicated the UNECA estimates that the annual Sustainable Development Goal financing gap for developing countries has increased by $1.7 trillion” and these indicators demonstrate the fact that the continent’s work is cut out for her.

“The challenges we face, from infrastructure deficits to economic disparities, require collective action and partnership on a continental scale. Therefore, the theme of next year’s Africa Prosperity Dialogues, “Delivering Africa’s Prosperity through Infrastructure: Invest. Integrate. Connect.” resonates deeply with Ghana’s vision for a more interconnected and prosperous Africa and AU agenda 2063.

“Africa’s infrastructure deficit impedes economic growth and development. Inadequate networks of road, rail, air, and waterways make transport costs in Africa among the highest in the world. The African Development Bank estimates that closing the continent’s infrastructure gap will require a minimum of $130 billion annually,” Dr Amin Adam said.

The President for Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialization at the African Development Bank, Solomon Quaynor, in his message, said to address the African continent’s infrastructure shortfall, the continent needs about 130 to 170 billion dollars a year with a financing gap of 70 to a 110 billion dollars.

“This financing gap is increased as we aim to ensure that all infrastructure today is climate change resilient or compliant. So, closing this gap remains the single important step we can take to structurally boost our economic development, make it more inclusive and competitive, and attain the Africa we want,” Mr Quaynor said.

On his part, the UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Charles Abani said Africa must find the funding resources to be able to bridge the 170 billion dollar financing gap that currently is the reality of the continent of Africa. He said the continent must prioritise projects that have a high impact on economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction.

“We must leverage technology and innovation to drive efficiency, sustainability, and importantly, inclusivity in our infrastructure development and lastly, we must bring everybody on board. If you want to go fast, they say, go alone, if you want to go far, go together,” Mr Abani said.

Speaking on “Digital infrastructure” the High Commissioner of Rwanda to Ghana, Rosemary Mbabazi said African countries must prioritise the development of digital infrastructure to boost digital trade on the continent. Ms Mbabazi observed that while it is important to build all the other infrastructure needs of all the continent, digital infrastructure if developed, can serve as a critical launch pad to propel trade in Africa.

“To achieve the levels of digital trade required, several key elements should be given attention. First, is the regulatory environment, second, is connectivity that will ensure widespread access to high-speed internet, particularly in rural areas. Third, digital Identity infrastructure, fourth, digital payments, and lastly, establishing a robust cyber security environment on the continent that will protect businesses and their customers against cyber threats,” Ms Mbabazi noted.

As part of the launch, a three-member panel conversation on the theme; “The Infrastructure Gab – Addressing the Bane of Africans Doing Business within Africa,” was held. The panel comprised, Group CEO of Telecel, Moh Damush, Executive Director/CEO Africa for United Bank for Africa, Marufatu Abiola Bawuah, Director General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ghana, Kofi Osafo-Marfo, and Minister for Railway Development, John Peter Amewu.

In their submissions, the panelists indicated that to make progress in the continent’s quest to build its infrastructure, there is a need for a joint effort on the part of all stakeholders such as government, businesses, the private sector, and the investor community, to bridge the infrastructure gap.

Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD 2025) will focus on unearthing innovative ways through which African heads of state, business leaders, and the private sector, can combine forces to bridge the continent’s infrastructure deficit and shore up the levels of intra-Africa trade.

The APD 2025 will be held in Accra, Ghana from Thursday, 30 January to Saturday, 1 February 2025, on the theme; “Delivering Africa’s Prosperity Through Infrastructure: Invest, Integrate, Connect,” and it is expected to attract over one thousand participants from across the continent.

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