Your Excellency Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Excellences Heads of State and Government
Excellences Ministers Presidents of Regional and International Institutions
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me first express my deepest gratitude to His Excellency Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for hosting a forum of such crucial significance and for his heartfelt commitment to our beloved Africa’s extraordinary growth story.
Distinguished guests, let me begin by offering you a glimpse of our fast moving and dynamic Africa.
Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, this is the Africa of today. As an Egyptian having spent most of her life in Zambia, and first and foremost, as a proud native-born African, my message here is to those who have not yet firmly set a foot in Africa: you must not wait for the future to arrive. Africa no longer just looks forward to a bright new dawn. It has already risen and is today one of the fastest growing and integrating business centers in the world. So my advice to you is: you must be quick.
Last year only, 128 billon dollars in capital investments were made, a boost of a staggering 136 percent on the previous year. While investors from the US, Europe, the Gulf, India, China, and emerging regions continue to expand, please take note ladies and gentlemen, as today’s fastest growing investors are now African.
African investors now account for 31 percent of global planned capital expenditure in African greenfield FDI projects.
And contrary to what many believe, Africa is not only a place where natural resources are extracted to boost others’ economic growth. All sectors offer excellent opportunities and top returns. Between 2003 and 2014, including throughout the boom in commodity prices, 38 percent of capital expenditure and over half of announced greenfield FDI projects, were in the services sector, followed by the manufacturing and primary sectors. By 2020, Africa is expected to generate 2.4 trillion dollars in consumer spending.
Africa’s 370 million-strong middle-class is today the engine of the continent’s truly diversified growth. On the back of this new consumer-base, new deals are being forged and pan-African expansion plans are seen through. France-based Danone purchased a 40 percent stake of East-Africa’s largest milk processor, Brookside Dairy, South Africa’s Shoprite opened 30 new stores on the continent last year, Togo’s Ecobank now operates in 36 African countries, to name but a few.
Change your perceptions ladies and gentlemen, as Africa is no longer only on the receiving end of technology transfers; it is now in the driver’s seat as well.
Africans are now leapfrogging outdated technology in sectors like ICT, health care and the like. We can cite Cameroon’s Arthur Zang for example, who invented the Cardiopad, a touch screen wireless medical tablet which enables heart examinations such as ECGs to be performed and analysed in different locations. And in Kenya, most financial transactions are now done by mobile, thanks to home-grown initiatives like M-Pesa, the world’s most successful mobile money transfer service. With 720 million Africans owning mobile phones, possibilities are endless.
In automotives, Nigeria now manufactures its own car, Innoson, and so does Kenya’s Mobius Motors. And with initiatives such as the Regional Innovation Fund – a programme between business leaders and the Governments of Senegal, Rwanda and Ethiopia – supporting over 10,000 African scientists, new generations of innovators are in the making.
Africa does not wait ladies and gentlemen; it is growing in leaps and bounds. And as such, your actions must be as swift as the continent’s.
Distinguished guests, I invite you to open your eyes. The power of Africa does not only shine at home. Not only do Africans invest in Africa, but they are going abroad as well. South Africa’s Woolworths created the second largest department store retailer in the southern hemisphere by acquiring for 2.1 billion dollars David Jones, an Australian department store. And the Dangote cement empire is now spreading all the way to Asia.
“We have awakened. We will not sleep anymore. Today, from now on, there is a new African in the world!” These are the words of Kwame Nkrumah, in his speech at independence. With these timeless words of wisdom from one of our continent’s most famous pan-Africanists, I would like to conclude my message by conveying my sincere thanks once again to the Egyptian President and his Government for organising Africa 2016 and for his far-sighted dedication to our continent, to partners and sponsors for their support, to our continent’s visionary policy-makers, and finally to the business community present here today.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I leave you with these thoughts. Africa is reported by those already operating there to be the most attractive business destination in the world. It delivers above-than-average returns and its economy will grow to be worth 4 trillion dollars by 2025. Africa is moving fast forward, and my dearest wish is that you join us on our incredible growth journey, the growth story of this century.
Thank you and thank you everyone for being here.