Your Excellency Dr. Ngozi N. Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director of the World Bank
 
Excellencies,
 
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Allow me to express my deep appreciation to the Africa Region of the World Bank for organizing this Roundtable in the margins of the United Nations LDC-IV Conference and for inviting me to contribute to this panel discussion on this very timely, relevant and engaging theme: “Is the Success in Africa sustainable?”
 
Being a son of Africa, this topic is more than music to my ears. Indeed, what was once called “the hopeless continent” back in 2000 is currently perceived as “the continent of Hope”.
 
Sustaining this hopeful momentum and accelerating growth further over the future, I believe, will depend critically on how well Africa makes growth more inclusive and pro-poor and seizes opportunities to harness its potential and abundant resources and managed risks, including both short and long term challenges.  
 
Excellencies,
 
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
The first decade of the new Millennium has been a season of progress across much of Africa. Growth accelerated, trade and investment expanded, macro-economic indicators improved, poverty declined, GDP per capita increased, health improved and school enrolment soared.
 
By any measure and standard, this progress is remarkable and unprecedented. Over the period 2000-2008, Africa’s real GDP growth averaged 5 per cent per annum. The improvement in political stability and the implementation of prudent macroeconomic policies and reforms allowed African economies to take advantage of a combination of favorable external factors including increased international demand for natural resources coupled with high commodity prices, surged foreign direct investment, sustained aid, debt alleviation and remittances. According to the IMF, these policies have made African economies relatively more resilient and contributed in mitigating the impact of the recent global economic downturn.
 
Besides, the outbreak of the global financial and economic crises, the impacts of climate change have demonstrated that no region of the world can be spared or insulated from these global economic and environmental challenges. This has led to the ongoing shift of the center of gravity of the global economy from the North to the East and South, calling for multipolar growth poles and markets. Within this context, Africa’s growth potential has been increasingly recognized by the global community and attention shifted from Africa’s problems to Africa’s abundant potential and opportunities.  
 
This positive image of Africa has been comforted by recent events such as the globally recognized successful organization of the FIFA Football World Cup in June 2010, in South Africa, or the improvement of agricultural production thanks to the AU/NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) initiative, and the ongoing reforms taking place in African countries to improve their business climate. As a matter of fact, three African economies – Rwanda, Cape Verde and Zambia- were among the top reformers during 2009-2010 according the World Bank’s Doing Business Report.
 
Of course, this rosy picture should not mask the fact that Africa’s strong growth performance did not translate into widespread job creation and poverty reduction. Huge disparities exist among African economies and within African countries. African people still face daunting challenges including poverty, violence, political turmoil, and social unrests particularly in these times of food and fuel prices’ hikes. The continent has been making slow progress and lags behind all the other developing regions in the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. African economies remain vulnerable to external economic shocks due to the low level of diversification of their economic structure and production system. At the bottom-line, Madam Chair, the roots of development success in Africa crucially depends on how we can ensure that the continent’s enormous wealth is used to foster equitable and inclusive growth and generate opportunities for all.
 
Excellencies,
 
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
 
Today, Africa has become the new frontier. Africa positions itself as a key partner in the global arena. Its collective GDP of more than US$ 1 trillion was roughly equal to Brazil’s or Russia’s in 2008. According to UN DESA, Africa’s average GDP growth is forecast to grow by 5.0 per cent in 2011 and 5.1 per cent in 2012. According to the latest Africa Progress Report, seven African countries are expected to be among the fast growing economies in the world this year namely: the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. The continent offers abundant opportunities for investors such as high returns on investments of about 15 per cent which is higher than any other region in the world. Africa is now home to more than a billion people comprising an increased number of middle class consumers as well as a rising populationcharacterized by its youth full of energy, creativity and optimism. Africa is also immensely rich in natural resources, energy and minerals, and carries 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land. With the right policies and adoption of appropriate technology and skills, Africa could become the bread basket of the world, producing enough to feed itself and export to other countries. Furthermore, infrastructure including communication, ICT, transport, water and energy represent key sectors for investment prospects in Africa. Let me recall that the continent produces only 3 per cent of the global energy and has a very low level of energy consumption. Africa also offers a high potential of renewable energy such as solar energy and hydropower.
 
Excellencies,
 
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Turning to the key ingredients to ensure the sustainability of African success, I can not restrain myself to overemphasize the importance of peace and security as a prerequisite to achieve economic and social development. Nothing can be achieved in the context of conflicts, insecurity or unrests.
 
Since most security challenges on the continent are still the outcome of weak or poor governance, it becomes imperative to make significant progress in strengthening good political governance. Efforts should strengthen and consolidate state’s institutions, enhance the inclusiveness of political processes and enhance the credibility of elections as they are central to durable peace and sustainable development.
 
At the same time, good economic governance is important to provide the appropriate platform needed to unleash the economic opportunities for All and ensure the social justice and redistribution of the gains from growth. Africa needs to consolidate and deepen macro-economic reforms further to support private sector development, as well as investing in the necessary economic and social infrastructure, while giving African policy-makers the policy space necessary to deal with short-term and long term economic exigencies as well as social imperatives to make the growth more inclusive and more sustainable. For instance, among the pressing social imperatives and job opportunities, Africa needs to turn the youth bulge into a boon, and prioritize investment in human capital – the bedrock of progress. As well, Africa needs the adequate infrastructure to promote the diversification of its economy and unleash its impressive productive capacity, the engine of growth.
 
In other words, Africa needs to build strong developmental states, as rightly articulated by the African Ministers of Economy, Finance, Planning and Development last March, in Addis Ababa. 
 
To do so, I should reiterate here that the continent’s development prospects remain the primary responsibility of its Leaders and its People. In the globalization context, Africa should exploit and harness the partnership opportunities available around the world such as those from traditional development partners and those dynamically growing from emerging development partners. Africa needs a real partnership from all its development partners in order to support its efforts to transform its challenges and weaknesses into Opportunities. In this regard, Africa needs to take an active part and role in the global economy and in the global governance. The World needs Africa and Africa needs the World.
 
 
Excellencies,
 
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
I deeply believe that African success is sustainable. The challenges and opportunities are well-known. Africa’s current leadership should lead the way in taking bold steps in forging developmental states to harness the continent’s wealth and resources and turn them into higher standards of living for All.
 

I thank you for your kind attention.