Closing Remarks of H.E Prof Victor Harison Commissioner of Economic Affairs African Union Commission on the Occasion of the 6th EU Africa Business Forum

November 27, 2017

Excellences,
Senior Government officials,
 Distinguished private sector leaders,
Distinguished Youth and Women Entrepreneurs,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed my pleasure to make a few closing remarks and express gratitude to all those who made this event a reality.

The whole day today, we exhausted a number of critical game changing issues including scheming conducive and relevant policies to facilitate access of SMEs to available financing; ensure a stable macroeconomic environment; modernize soft and hard infrastructures to meet the digitalization objectives of Africa such as e-Governance; digital startup, agribusiness and renewable and sustainable energy.
Excellences Ladies and gentlemen

It is impeccable time to address Digitalization of Africa and to create a digital startup since the digital economies are shaping our lives and due to the fact that the cost of technology has decreased dramatically and social media has lowered the marketing budget even further.

The economic climate has cut out many of the targeted education to curb unemployment and fill the private sectors’ skill requirements. We must allow free mobility of skills between African countries to give chance to our youth and women entrepreneurs to contribute to the economic development of Africa, to create job opportunity and improve the lively hood of our people. We should not also ignore the necessity of providing clean and renewable energy which is essential in fostering private sector development and continental growth.

Excellences Ladies and gentlemen
According to the World Bank report “Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness,” says that Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods.  “We therefore need to promote agribusiness as a reagent for ending poverty.”

Africa has an immense energy need. In a continent with a population of close to 1 billion, over 625 million people are without power. According to the International Energy Agency, that makes up almost 70% of the population. This is ironic considering the fact that Africa has an abundance of natural resources available. For instance, the continent has a large coastline where wind power and wave power resources are abundant and underutilized in the North and South. Africa has much greater solar resources available than any other continent because it is the sunniest continent on earth. Africa is endowed with rivers that can generate electric power capable of lighting the whole continent.

Energy is therefore an essential factor for the reduction of poverty and boosting economic growth. Major sectors like agriculture, education, communication, and technology all require abundant, consistent, and cost effective energy to spur the much needed development of the continent. Currently, many African nations already have small scale solar, wind, and geothermal plants that provide energy in rural areas. These modes of energy production are becoming very useful in remote locations, because they bridge the gap created by the excessive cost of transporting electricity from large-scale power plants.

Excellences Ladies and gentlemen
The AUC is committed to supporting Member States to grow their economies especially in the today and future digital context in ways which will enable all private sector actors including youth to benefit and participate in development. We greatly value the growing involvement of youth and women Entrepreneurs in the private sector development activities.

In cooperation with the EU, we need to invest in youth by equipping them with education, training and skills, prerequisites to empower youth and women and help them transform themselves to entrepreneurs. This is the way to address the challenges of migration. I therefore invite the European Private Sector to massively invest in Africa and support the dynamic of Africa’s structural transformation preferably through Foreign Direct Investment.

In concluding my remarks, I wish to express my profound gratitude to the Government and People of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire for hosting us in this beautiful city of Abidjan and allow me also to thank you all for your massively contributions during the deliberations in this Forum.

AUC Commissioners: