The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) recently held its virtual 52nd Plenary Session with the official opening and keynote by the Cabinet Secretary – Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Kenya, Betty Maina.
Themed “Business Environment, Competitiveness and Economic Growth in Africa”, the plenary was held over two days with a special session titled: African Economies Amid COVID 19 – Impacts & The Road Ahead.
“Competitive economies are most likely able to provide an environment conducive to business, market development, policy clarity, strong institutions that define the rules/incentives mechanism and effective coordination; and hence will grow more sustainably and inclusively. This means that there is a likelihood that everyone in that particular society, market segment or physical location will benefit from the fruits of economic growth,” said the AERC’s Executive Director, Professor Njuguna Ndung’u.
In her official opening speech, Betty C. Maina highlighted that Africa must reimagine business beyond COVID-19, and that there is an opportunity to reshape Africa’s manufacturing if it focuses on self-reliance.
She noted that African manufacturers are stepping up to produce essential medical supplies which could contribute 1.5 Billion dollars to the continent and, in the long run, African manufacturers can take advantage of opportunities that lead to African trade and global supply chain realignment.
The importance of strengthening Inter-African trade and supply chains could create a springboard for export-orientated growth.
The opportunity to catalyze the formalisation of Africa economies, improve productivity and access to finance will create additional protection and opportunity for employees and SME’s.
“Targeted campaigns need to be launched for SMEs so that they can familiarize themselves with access to finance and labour. It is important to leverage the informal employment sector as it has 70% of the working population and cuts across manufacturing and trade that leads growth to GDP. It is important to create the shift of competitiveness for economies in Africa”, Betty Maina concluded.
“We must build a solid macro-economic policy environment, protect local investments and strengthen intra-African trade as we embark on a post-COVID recovery path,” said Njuguna Ndung’u.
The forum had a diversity of presentations by various economists and was attended by senior government officials and scholars virtually, who discussed policy options to boost economic recovery after months of lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.