Highlights from the 2nd UBA Africa Conversations High-Level Panel, moderated by Tony O. Elumelu

Global leaders at the second edition of United Bank for Africa (UBA) African Day Conversations, discussed strategies to improve the economy of the African continent post-COVID-19.

The leade included the President of Liberia, H.E George Weah; United States Senator Chris Coons; the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Professor Benedict Okey Oramah; President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer; President spoke on Monday at the virtual Leadership Panel which was moderated by the Chairman, UBA Plc, Tony Elumelu.

Other leading voices who made up the panel were the Founder, Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben Yahmed; the Secretary-General of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), H.E George Chikoti; Administrator, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Achim Steiner and Donald Kaberuka.

The following quotes were shared during the session:

Tony Elumelu 

This is no time for finger-pointing, this is a time for collaboration. This is a time for us to deal with the situation we have & also forge a better future for everyone.

George Weah

In Liberia, we have taken measures to ease the financial burden on vulnerable business in the informal sector by providing small loan assistance to SMEs. 

Amir Ben Yahmed

We needed to use this crisis to take Africa to the next level.

The pandemic has to be a wake-up call for us to attain two goals that we haven’t reached yet;

  1. the first, to create for the economy new revenues and get away from the commodity-driven model, it has largely failed in creating jobs and prosperity
  2. The second goal is self-reliance

We need to have a healthcare industry. Africa manufactures 2% of what it produces. We are overly dependent on importing medication, equipment consumable and this is not possible! and this is not a question of money it is a question of will.

Putting healthcare at the core of our industrial strategy is another opportunity we need to grab.

Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah
We have to put away all reservations so we can build supply chains across Africa. This is the only way we can foster dynamic growth across Africa.
If we had a domestic source of financing and growth we would depend less on others.

Christopher Coons

I remain an optimist about Africa, I believe that it has a bright and strong future and I look forward to our conversation today about how we can work together to make the investments that we need to make now in response and recovery to this pandemic in building the foundation for rapid and sustained economic growth and to invest in the youth of Africa so that we have a brighter future for the Continent and for the world.

I was a Champion for extending and authorising the African Growth and Opportunity Act which gives the Continent the opportunity to trade with the United States without the sorts of trade barriers typical in other parts of the world.

I worked on the creation of a new Development Finance Corporation that will unlock $60 billion in American investment in partnership with the African private sector & African governments to address growth opportunities.

Achim Steiner 

  • We need to find a way in which the government as a regulator but also as a co-investor leverages the private sector investments.
  • There are no public budgets which can provide the capital for investment on their own in today’s world.
  • The ability of the private sector to invest and also provide public goods is not a contradiction to being a profitable business.
  • If there’s one thing the pandemic has done one thing it is to show that we do not have the perfect institutions, none of us has the perfect responses, but how on earth would we contain this pandemic if we did not have a World Health Organisation and if we did not have a spirit of multilateralism in our ability to act together, help each other and ultimately achieve, growth, jobs and sustainable development.

Peter Maurer

The pandemic has illustrated the weak situation of health, water and food systems and we need to heavily invest both by the public and private sectors to stabilise the health sector.

To watch the entire session, click here

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