The presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the February 25, 2023 election in Nigeria and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has described Africa as the right continent for trade and investment.
He spoke at the opening of a two-day Commonwealth Trade and Investment Summit in the UK that started on Monday.
Obi’s address focused on the vast opportunities within Africa and outlined strategies for sustainable development and inclusive growth across the continent.
Obi, who expressed gratitude to the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council for organising the event, highlighted Africa’s potential and underscored the continent’s rich human capital.
He emphasised the continent’s burgeoning youthful and dynamic workforce, comprising over 1.4 billion people.
With a vast working-age population of approximately 1.1 billion, which, as Obi further analysed, “presents a significant advantage in the global economy”.
The former Governor expounded on Africa’s economic growth with several African economies outperforming global economic growth averages.
He pointed out that 12 of the top 20 countries with the highest growth projections for 2024 are in Africa.
Furthermore, he emphasised the expanding middle class, stating that 53 percent of income earners in Africa fall within the age group of 16 to 34, creating a substantial consumer market ripe for investment and trade.
Obi further delved into four sectors: technology, entertainment, natural resources and agriculture, to illustrate the emerging opportunities across Africa.
In the area of technology, Obi said that Africa is not only catching up with technological advancements, but also innovating uniquely.
Fintech solutions and mobile technologies, as he said, are transforming various aspects of life, including education, healthcare and agriculture.
In entertainment, Obi noted that the rise of the African entertainment industry, highlighted by Nollywood and similar sectors in various African countries, demonstrates significant growth potential and cultural importance, attracting investments and global attention.
With vast reserves of minerals, oil, gas and arable land, he described Africa as a reservoir of natural wealth, offering immense investment prospects in mining and agriculture.
In the area of agriculture, Obi said that Africa possesses a significant portion of the world’s uncultivated arable land, presenting an opportunity to become a global agricultural powerhouse if the right policies and investments are made.
While acknowledging challenges such as leadership failures, limited access to funding, inadequate infrastructure and poverty, the former two-term Anambra State Governor emphasised the need for partnerships to harness Africa’s opportunities.
He stressed the importance of an African Consensus – a framework designed by Africans in collaboration with strategic partners – to drive sustainable development and growth in Africa.
Obi highlighted the pivotal role of the Commonwealth in supporting Africa’s development agenda.
He proposed collaboration between Africa and the Commonwealth to create a special fund for infrastructure development, promote exports, facilitate knowledge exchange and craft a globally attractive African Development Agenda.
Addressing the deficit of leadership in Africa, Obi asserted that effective harnessing of Africa’s opportunities would require accountable and responsible leadership across the continent.
He emphasised the need for an African Consensus Development Agenda rooted in responsible leadership, urging support from strategic partners like the Commonwealth.
Attending the summit are former leaders, former Ministers and heads of institutions from the commonwealth countries.