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  • The narrative of a rising Africa is being challenged.

  • About 10 years ago, I spoke about an Africa,

  • an Africa of hope and opportunity,

  • an Africa of entrepreneurs,

  • an Africa very different from the Africa that you normally hear about

  • of death, poverty and disease.

  • And that what I spoke about,

  • became part of what is known now as the narrative of the rising Africa.

  • I want to tell you two stories about this rising Africa.

  • The first has to do with Rwanda,

  • a country that has gone through many trials and tribulations.

  • And Rwanda has decided to become the technology hub, or a technology hub

  • on the continent.

  • It's a country with mountainous and hilly terrain,

  • a little bit like here,

  • so it's very difficult to deliver services to people.

  • So what has Rwanda said?

  • In order to save lives, it's going to try using drones

  • to deliver lifesaving drugs, vaccines and blood

  • to people in hard-to-reach places

  • in partnership with a company called Zipline,

  • with UPS, and also with the Gavi, a global vaccine alliance.

  • In doing this, it will save lives.

  • This is part of the type of innovation we want to see in the rising Africa.

  • The second story has to do with something

  • that I'm sure most of you have seen or will remember.

  • Very often, countries in Africa suffer drought and floods,

  • and it's getting more frequent because of climate change effects.

  • When this happens, they normally wait for international appeals to raise money.

  • You see pictures of children with flies on their faces,

  • carcasses of dead animals and so on.

  • Now these countries, 32 countries, came together

  • under the auspices of the African Union

  • and decided to form an organization called the African Risk Capacity.

  • What does it do?

  • It's a weather-based insurance agency,

  • and what these countries do is to pay insurance each year,

  • about 3 million dollars a year of their own resources,

  • so that in the event they have a difficult drought situation or flood,

  • this money will be paid out to them,

  • which they can then use to take care of their populations,

  • instead of waiting for aid to come.

  • The African Risk Capacity last year paid 26 million dollars

  • to Mauritania, Senegal and Niger.

  • This enabled them to take care of 1.3 million people affected by drought.

  • They were able to restore livelihoods,

  • buy fodder for cattle, feed children in school

  • and in short keep the populations home instead of migrating out of the area.

  • So these are the kinds of stories

  • of an Africa ready to take responsibility for itself,

  • and to look for solutions for its own problems.

  • But that narrative is being challenged now

  • because the continent has not been doing well in the last two years.

  • It had been growing at five percent per annum

  • for the last one and a half decades,

  • but this year's forecast was three percent. Why?

  • In an uncertain global environment, commodity prices have fallen.

  • Many of the economies are still commodity driven,

  • and therefore their performance has slipped.

  • And now the issue of Brexit doesn't make it any easier.

  • I never knew that the Brexit could happen

  • and that it could be one of the things that would cause global uncertainty

  • such as we have.

  • So now we've got this situation,

  • and I think it's time to take stock

  • and to say what were the things that the African countries did right?

  • What did they do wrong?

  • How do we build on all of this and learn lessons

  • so that we can keep Africa rising?

  • So let me talk about six things that I think we did right.

  • The first is managing our economies better.

  • The '80s and '90s were the lost decades, when Africa was not doing well,

  • and some of you will remember an "Economist" cover

  • that said, "The Lost Continent."

  • But in the 2000s, policymakers learned

  • that they needed to manage the macroeconomic environment better,

  • to ensure stability,

  • keep inflation low in single digits,

  • keep their fiscal deficits low, below three percent of GDP,

  • give investors, both domestic and foreign,

  • some stability so they'll have confidence to invest in these economies.

  • So that was number one.

  • Two, debt.

  • In 1994, the debt-to-GDP ratio of African countries was 130 percent,

  • and they didn't have fiscal space.

  • They couldn't use their resources to invest in their development

  • because they were paying debt.

  • There may be some of you in this room who worked to support African countries

  • to get debt relief.

  • So private creditors, multilaterals and bilaterals came together

  • and decided to do the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative

  • and give debt relief.

  • So this debt relief in 2005

  • made the debt-to-GDP ratio fall down to about 30 percent,

  • and there was enough resources to try and reinvest.

  • The third thing was loss-making enterprises.

  • Governments were involved in business

  • which they had no business being in.

  • And they were running businesses, they were making losses.

  • So some of these enterprises were restructured,

  • commercialized, privatized or closed,

  • and they became less of a burden on government.

  • The fourth thing was a very interesting thing.

  • The telecoms revolution came,

  • and African countries jumped on it.

  • In 2000, we had 11 million phone lines.

  • Today, we have about 687 million mobile lines on the continent.

  • And this has enabled us

  • to go, move forward with some mobile technology

  • where Africa is actually leading.

  • In Kenya, the development of mobile money --

  • M-Pesa, which all of you have heard about --

  • it took some time for the world to notice that Africa was ahead

  • in this particular technology.

  • And this mobile money is also providing a platform

  • for access to alternative energy.

  • You know, people who can now pay for solar

  • the same way they pay for cards for their telephone.

  • So this was a very good development, something that went right.

  • We also invested more in education and health, not enough,

  • but there were some improvements.

  • 250 million children were immunized in the last one and a half decades.

  • The other thing was that conflicts decreased.

  • There were many conflicts on the continent.

  • Many of you are aware of that.

  • But they came down, and our leaders even managed to dampen some coups.

  • New types of conflicts have emerged, and I'll refer to those later.

  • So based on all this, there's also some differentiation on the continent

  • that I want you to know about,

  • because even as the doom and gloom is here,

  • there are some countries -- Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Ethiopia,

  • Tanzania and Senegal are performing relatively well at the moment.

  • But what did we do wrong?

  • Let me mention eight things.

  • You have to have more things wrong than right.

  • (Laughter)

  • So there are eight things we did wrong.

  • The first was that even though we grew, we didn't create enough jobs.

  • We didn't create jobs for our youth.

  • Youth unemployment on the continent is about 15 percent,

  • and underemployment is a serious problem.

  • The second thing that we did is that the quality of growth was not good enough.

  • Even those jobs we created were low-productivity jobs,

  • so we moved people from low-productivity agriculture

  • to low-productivity commerce and working in the informal sector

  • in the urban areas.

  • The third thing is that inequality increased.

  • So we created more billionaires.

  • 50 billionaires worth 96 billion dollars

  • own more wealth than the bottom 75 million people on the continent.

  • Poverty,

  • the proportion of people in poverty -- that's the fourth thing -- did decrease,

  • but the absolute numbers did not because of population growth.

  • And population growth is something

  • that we don't have enough of a dialogue about on the continent.

  • And I think we will need to get a handle on it,

  • particularly how we educate girls.

  • That is the road to really working on this particular issue.

  • The fifth thing is that we didn't invest enough in infrastructure.

  • We had investment from the Chinese.

  • That helped some countries, but it's not enough.

  • The consumption of electricity in Africa on the continent

  • in Sub-Saharan Africa is equivalent to Spain.

  • The total consumption is equivalent to that of Spain.

  • So many people are living in the dark,

  • and as the President of the African Development Bank said recently,

  • Africa cannot develop in the dark.

  • The other thing we have not done

  • is that our economies retain the same structure

  • that we've had for decades.

  • So even though we've been growing,

  • the structure of the economies has not changed very much.

  • We are still exporting commodities,

  • and exporting commodities is what? It's exporting jobs.

  • Our manufacturing value-added is only 11 percent.

  • We are not creating enough decent manufacturing jobs for our youth,

  • and trade among ourselves is low.

  • Only about 12 percent of our trade is among ourselves.

  • So that's another serious problem.

  • Then governance.

  • Governance is a serious issue.

  • We have weak institutions,

  • and sometimes nonexistent institutions, and I think this gives way for corruption.

  • Corruption is an issue that we have not yet gotten a good enough handle on,

  • and we have to fight tooth and nail,

  • that and increased transparency in the way we manage our economies

  • and the way we manage our finances.

  • We also need to be wary of new conflicts,

  • new types of conflicts,

  • such as we have with Boko Haram in my country, Nigeria,

  • and with Al-Shabaab in Kenya.

  • We need to partner with international partners,

  • developed countries, to fight this together.

  • Otherwise, we create a new reality

  • which is not the type we want for a rising Africa.

  • And finally, the issue of education.

  • Our education systems in many countries are broken.

  • We are not creating the types of skills needed for the future.

  • So we have to find a way to educate better.

  • So those are the things that we are not doing right.

  • Now, where do we go from there?

  • I believe that the way forward is to learn to manage success.

  • Very often, when people succeed or countries succeed,

  • they forget what made them succeed.

  • Learning what you're successful at,

  • managing it and keeping it is vital for us.

  • So all those things I said we did right,

  • we have to learn to do it right again, keep doing it right.

  • Managing the economy while creating stability is vital,

  • getting prices right, and policy consistency.

  • Very often, we are not consistent.

  • One regime goes out, another comes in

  • and they throw away even the functioning policies that were there before.

  • What does this do?

  • It creates uncertainty for people, for households,

  • uncertainties for business.

  • They don't know whether and how to invest.

  • Debt: we must manage the success we had in reducing our debt,

  • but now countries are back to borrowing again,

  • and we see our debt-to-GDP ratio beginning to creep up,

  • and in certain countries,

  • debt is becoming a problem, so we have to avoid that.

  • So managing success.

  • The next thing is focusing with a laser beam

  • on those things we did not do well.

  • First and foremost is infrastructure.

  • Yes, most countries now recognize they have to invest in this,

  • and they are trying to do the best they can to do that.

  • We must.

  • The most important thing is power.

  • You cannot develop in the dark.

  • And then governance and corruption:

  • we have to fight.

  • We have to make our countries transparent.

  • And above all, we have to engage our young people.

  • We have genius in our young people.

  • I see it every day.

  • It's what makes me wake up in the morning and feel ready to go.

  • We have to unleash the genius of our young people,

  • get out of their way, support them to create and innovate

  • and lead the way.

  • And I know that they will lead us in the right direction.

  • And our women, and our girls:

  • we have to recognize that girls and women are a gift.

  • They have strength,

  • and we have to unleash that strength

  • so that they can contribute to the continent.

  • I strongly believe that when we do all of these things,

  • we find that the rising Africa narrative

  • is not a fluke.

  • It's a trend.

  • It's a trend, and if we continue, if we unleash our youth,