We are delighted to host, once again, the business and investment community at the Africa 2018 Forum. Our aim is to build on the success of last year’s Forum and accelerate our collective mission to achieve fast-paced, equitable, and sustainable growth through boosting investment in the continent. We are certain that this year’s gathering will create a valuable opportunity for driving cross-border, private sector investment, and building partnerships that add value well into the future.
Africa 2018 takes places in a year that saw the historic signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area by 44 countries in Kigali, Rwanda. This important step towards deeper economic integration on the continent advances the ambition to create a trade bloc with a combined gross domestic product of more than $3 trillion. In addition, this year witnessed periodical regional events and high level conferences hosted by several African nations, which represent the firm dedication to strengthening cooperation and boosting mutually beneficial collaboration between African nations.
Africa as a continent has enjoyed ‘above-average’ growth compared to the rest of the world, with an aggregated gross domestic product growth of 3.6 per cent for 2017. The trend for overall growth across Africa exceeding that of population growth is expected to continue in the next couple of years, enabling per capita incomes to increase across many nations. African leaders have exhibited strong commitment to accelerating this growth, including through unleashing the continent’s massive investment potential. As such, the continent is leaping forwards guided by a clear vision and firm action for economic transformation.
The private sector is at the heart of driving this transformation, and plays a key role in securing sustainable development. It has the capacity to address some of the continent’s most pressing challenges, while also unlocking its greatest opportunities. Businesses are creating smart solutions and ground-breaking innovations for creating jobs, developing infrastructure, expanding education, scaling up health care, improving food security and tackling climate change. Moreover, public-private partnerships are offering new and creative approaches for developing infrastructure, agriculture, natural resources and information technology. These collaborations are demonstrating how private capital can be effectively mobilised to advance Africa’s development efforts. It is clear that increasing the active and productive engagement of the private sector in the development process is imperative.
Egypt’s grand vision and its bold and comprehensive socio-economic reform program are yielding impressive progress in terms of maximising our country’s assets, improving infrastructure and expanding opportunities for all citizens. This progress is also underpinned by constitutional, institutional and structural mechanisms that are transforming the investment and business climate and restoring the confidence of the private sector, both foreign and domestic. Moving forwards, we are committed to catalysing on the progress achieved, and ensuring our growth is people-driven through a renewed focus on developing human capital and bridging opportunity gaps. While working towards achieving national goals the Government also realizes the lasting and tangible benefits of broad-based development across the continent. As such, we are also working hard to encourage international financial institutions to play a larger role in supporting economic development in Africa.
As Egypt prepares to take the Chairmanship of the African Union in 2019, the continent can be assured we remain committed to working towards our unified vision for an integrated and more prosperous Africa. In that vein, we invite you to embrace the opportunity presented by this multistakeholder, multidisciplinary platform to unlock the ample trade and investment potential Africa has to offer, with the aim of advancing our shared interest for promoting higher standards of living for all African people.
Dr. Sahar Nasr
Minister of Investment and International Cooperation