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SAIIA, Brookings launch Foresight Africa report

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SAIIA, Brookings launch Foresight Africa report

AGI senior fellow and director Brahima Coulibaly & ISS senior research consultant Liesl Louw-Vaudran on the Foresight Africa report (Camera: Nicholas Boyd. Editing: Christo Greyling)

28th January 2019

By: Sane Dhlamini
Creamer Media Researcher and Writer

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The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) launched the Foresight Africa report on Monday, in Johannesburg, highlighting the top priorities for the continent in 2019. 

AGI senior fellow and director Brahima Coulibaly said the report was aimed at spotlighting issues facing the continent from poverty and inequality to issues of governance.

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“As 2019 begins, reasons for optimism about Africa’s ability to capitalise on the progress achieved in recent years and to advance the region’s economic potential abound. The 2014 terms-of-trade shock from the commodities slump that hit many countries in the region hard has largely dissipated,” said Coulibaly.

The report focuses broadly on bolstering good governance, looking at issues such as the wide age gap between African leaders and the majority of their populations, as well as the underrepresentation of women and young people.

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“Are young people having a seat on the table? We know that they are on the menu,” Coulibaly remarked.

Another focus area of the report is the management of debt and mobilising resources with emphasis being put on the looming debt crisis that a lot of African countries are battling with.

Harnessing Africa’s youth dividend is also highlighted, as well as fixing social fragility, with a focus on poverty and how it will continue to strain government institutions and threaten stability if too little is done to curb it.

The report also deals with Africa’s untapped business potential and puts the spotlight on opportunities for business on the continent and strategies to succeed in the world’s next big growth spurt.

The report highlights boosting trade and investment, with a focus on intra-African trade, in particular the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that was signed by African countries and commits them to remove tariffs on 90% of goods, progressively liberalise trade in services, and address a host of other non-tariff barriers.

Commenting on the report Institute for Security Studies senior research consultant Liesl Louw-Vaudran said she was pleasantly surprised at the optimistic tone of the report because Southern Africa had lately been reeling from the troubled elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“We should watch Ethiopia and Côte d'Ivoire in 2019 and I think there is going to be a lot of discussion about the CFA Franc this year and China. Migration, which is a catchword, is not in the report which is a good thing. Let us not succumb to general illusions when we look at the issues facing the continent,” she said.

She also addressed the issue of Internet restrictions, which had recently been prominent in Zimbabwe and the DRC following elections.

Further, Louw-Vaudran was worried that not much emphasis is being placed on the upcoming elections in Nigeria.

She was optimistic that there was political will on free-trade.

“For big countries like South Africa it is interesting but for small countries it is going to be extremely difficult when we look at free movement like we have seen with the issue of the African passport,” she warned.

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