With the right policies and linkages, Africa can become an indispensable global economic hub, Singapore’s Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam noted early this week, commending the continent’s diverse economic potential.
Delivering this year’s Kofi A. Annan Eminent Speakers’ Lecture series at the African Development Bank headquarters in Abidjan, Shanmugaratnam outlined five strategies which must underpin the continent’s transformation drive and efforts to build inclusive growth.
Africa must spread its economic openness by strongly showcasing specialisation along the production value chain and invest more boldly in social foundations.
The continent must also maximise policy coherence and effectiveness, think in the long-term and maximise the benefits of global financial system, Shanmugaratnam told diplomats, students, government representatives and senior Bank officials gathered in the Babacar Ndiaye auditorium.
The lecture, had the theme: “Inclusive Growth: Learning from Experience, Partnering for the Future – How Africa and Asia can work together for broad-based prosperity.”
“There are challenges, but there are also opportunities. There is much more to be done,” said Shanmugaratnam who is also Singapore’s Coordinating Minister for Social Policies.
“We are in an unusual time globally – a time of unusual challenge where some of the basic beliefs of how the world prospect together are being challenged. But it’s also a time of immense opportunities… in the international economy, in international finance and in international cooperation,” the minister stated.
It is projected that in the next decade, Africa will have the largest working age population in the world, larger than China and India with about 1.1 billion people of working age population of between 15 and 64 years.
Shanmugaratnam said African leaders must prepare to take advantage of the strong bulging workforce, coupled with the high mobile technology penetration to drive innovation for growth.
In his welcoming remarks, Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina noted that Africa could learn a lot from Singapore.
“As we continue our efforts to do more, we want to learn from the impressive achievements of Singapore’’ he said.
The African Development Bank launched the Eminent Speakers Lecture series in 2006 to provide a platform for a robust exchange of ideas to meet the challenges of African development.
Since then, the series has featured world-class speakers, politicians, top academics, businesspeople and civil society representatives, who have spoken on a diverse range of topics and issues.