Africa ‘must invest in human capital’

13 May 2013

Business leaders from across Africa called for investment in human capital and economic diversification to make growth across the continent more inclusive at the close of the World Economic Forum on Africa on Friday.

“The era of pessimism is over in Africa,” said WEF managing director and member of the managing board, Borge Brende.

“The African lions are growing even faster than the Asian tigers. But if this growth is not invested in human capital and diversifying economies, we will lose out on the opportunity.”

Africa also needs to offer better enabling environments for industrialisation in order to capitalise on opportunities that the continent provides, according to CEO of research firm Frontier Advisory, Martyn Davies.

“Beyond the lip service, there needs to be a deeper realisation that our most valuable asset is not what’s under the ground, but it’s what is potentially in our people,” Davies said.

Greater regional integration and investment in social entrepreneurship and industry are also necessary for inclusive growth.

“We need to have inclusive and high-value growth,” said consultant for Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank. “It’s not only about GDP. We need to have competitiveness.”

Regional integration within Africa and the continent’s integration with developed economies are also essential to its growth and development, Sweden’s Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt said.

WEF was hosted in Cape Town from Wednesday to Friday with over 1 000 participants from about 80 countries around the world.

Under the theme “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”, the meeting’s agenda integrated three pillars: Accelerating Economic Diversification, Boosting Strategic Infrastructure and Unlocking Africa’s Talent.

SAinfo reporter