In celebration of Africa Day, UBA Group hosted the 3rd edition of the UBA Africa Conversations on the 25th of May, 2021 (UBA Africa Conversations 2021) – a forum that gave room to hear from Africa’s international leaders as dialogues regarding the development of the African continent in areas of economy and finance, trade, health, and unity were raised and foreseeable solutions and actions were discussed.
The speakers included President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organization; Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization; Mahktar Sop Diop, Managing Director, International Finance Corporation; and UBA Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu.
Moderated by UBA Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu, each speaker was required to give a minute opening speech and President Paul Kagame started by commending the work of Africans and Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world and highlighting resilience to see the continent through the hardships and challenges faced these difficult times. Calling for partnerships amidst countries to make vaccines and invest in the health sector of the continent by not just governments but also the private sector to help combat the present and future crises.
Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus followed by highlighting the need for African countries to make vaccines as the number of vaccinated persons is a small percentage compared to the population of the continent. He also called for the corporation of public and private health sectors to better the African health sector in every country.
Director-General, World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala commended African leaders for prompt actions taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and stated the problem of vaccine inequity. She also highlighted the mobilization and productivity of African youths as a way to come out of the pandemic.
Finally, Mahktar Sop Diop, Managing Director, International Finance Corporation closed the opening speech by stating the need to transform Africa by creating jobs and growth, enabling large and small scale enterprises, employing youths, and also engaging in free trade among African countries. He raised the need to better the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries.
On matters of insecurity and conflicts disrupting the peace and order of the continent,
President Paul Kagame called attention to what should have been done to prevent the issues ravaging the continent, stating the best thing Africans and leaders, not just political leaders should do is to invest in one another or at least think of each other’s wellbeing to create a sustainable and peaceful society. He followed up by urging time and resource investments in Africans and Africa to realize the peace we talk about, countries should work hand-in-hand to combat insurgency to enable peace and stability and implementation of good policies.
On how to realize a better vaccine equity ratio in Africa,
Dr. Tedros mentioned the importance of corporations to end the pandemic by sharing vaccines among countries. He also highlighted the need to increase the production volume of vaccines in the continent ad urged corporations between public and private sectors to realize this.
Asked on what measures could be taken to realize economic growth in Africa,
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, emphasized the implementation of fiscal stimulus into the economy to achieve short-term goals, the revival of service sectors such as logistics, and tourism to improve growth. For long-term visions, the diversification of economic commodities was brought up as she stated the growth of economies in African countries could be achieved if revenue is diversified with different commodities. Proper trade within and outside Africa should also be exploited.
Mahktar Sop Diop, Managing Director, International Finance Corporation also levied collectivity as a key weapon in realizing the transition and transformation of Africa. Documentation and systemization are also required by all countries in Africa. Setting goals and working towards them would be a major requirement for the Africa of the future.
On how digital and technological revolution could pave the way to a mass increase in productivity, social welfare, and poverty reduction in Africa,
President Paul Kagame, praised the use of digital and technological services during the pandemic and emphasized the importance of investing the services in all sectors and areas across the African continent.
The meeting ended with all speakers advising youths to invest in themselves, dreams, and communities, to be risk-takers and goal-getters for themselves, communities, and countries as they are the ones to usher Africa into the new age of development.
If anything, it is evident that plans are being made to further the development of the African continent in all areas and sectors. With so much work to do, Africans must work collectively to realize the Africa we all envision, embracing one another to move the continent forward one step at a time. Africa Unite!.