24 Sep 2014

WTI I3 director takes part in African investment panel

On 19 September, Stephen Gelb, Director of I3: International Investment Initiative at WTI, participated in a panel in Geneva on the topic of “Catalysing investment for transformative growth in Africa”.

The panel took place during the 61st Session of the Trade and Development Board of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The TDB comprises government representatives of UN member states and oversees UNCTAD activities between the quadrennial UNCTAD Conferences, meeting regularly in Geneva.

The Division for Africa presented its 2014 Economic Development in Africa Report, subtitled “Catalysing investment for transformative growth in Africa”. The report shows that recent growth performance in Africa has been strong, but the success is fragile. It argues that an improvement in investment remains a key challenge to sustain growth and enhance transformation of economic structures and productive capacity, to accelerate poverty reduction. 

The afternoon panel was introduced by Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Fatima Haram Acyl, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, informed the audience of more than 100 government representatives about the Commission’s current work on promoting investment on the continent, emphasising the potential of backward linkages from mining and extractive industries. Caroline Kende-Robb, Executive Director, Africa Progress Panel presented highlights from two of her organisation’s reports, Grain, Fish Money: Financing Africa’s green and blue revolutions and Equity in Extractives: Stewarding Africa’s natural resources for all.

Stephen Gelb focused on the ongoing challenge of enhancing private and public sector governance to lower investment risk in Africa and enhance market competition. He contrasted a resource-based development path for Africa emphasising extractive industries and agriculture with a strategy aimed at boosting light manufacturing, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each.

The presentations were followed by a lively two-hour discussion with many government representatives, especially from African countries, sharing their experiences, and their frequent frustrations, with policy implementation.

Pictured above with Dr Gelb (second right) are Dr Taffere Tesfachew, Director of UNCTAD’s Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries (first left), Fatima Haram Acyl (second left), Mukhisa Kituyi (third left) and Caroline Kende-Robb (third right).