Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has urged African Governments to work towards the elimination of non-tariff barriers in the region.
Adesina said this at the former opening of AfDB) Annual Meeting, with the theme; “Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity’’ in Malabo.
“Pulling down non-tariff barriers alone will spur trade by at least 53 per cent and potentially double trade.
“ The free movement of people and especially labour mobility are crucial for promoting investments.’’
He said that as part of efforts to accelerate investments and mobilise greater resources for Africa, the Bank supported by its partners inaugurated the Africa Investment Forum which held for the first time in Johannesburg in 2018.
Adesina said that the event attracted more than 2,000 participants and investors from 53 countries around the world.
According to him, regional integration is one of the Bank’s strategic High 5 agendas to rapidly advance Africa’s economic transformation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the opening was attended by the Presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Mr Obiang Mbasago, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Felix Tshisekedi.
Also in attendance were King Letsie 111 of Lesotho, Ambrose Dlamini, Prime Minister of Eswatini and High-level government officials from Rwanda, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Cote d’ Ivoire.
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion include governors of AfDB, Finance Ministers, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, members of Boards of Directors of AfDB, and partners among other dignitaries.
The Equatorial Guinea president, while declaring open the meeting, recalled that his country was once ranked one of the poorest country in the world.
According to him, the country has since been transformed with one of the highest per capita incomes on the continent.
“For me development is not about per capita income, it is about expanding opportunities for the people to live a more dignified life.
“Equatorial Guinea is open for business. We are committed to regional integration for shared prosperity.
“We count on AfDB to help us achieve economic diversification and the consolidation of social equlity,’’ Mbasago said.
Speaking earlier, Equatorial Guinea’s Finance Minister, Cesar Mba-Abogo said “progress is the realisation of utopia. This is a country of utopia in Africa, with independence and the ability to control our own destiny.’’
“It seemed impossible at first in the last century but it was done. Now our utopia is regional integration,’’ Mba-Abogo said.
The Annual Meetings provide opportunities for experts, governments, businesses, civil society, think-tanks and the academia to share their candid assessments on regional integration efforts and dialogue on critical issues concerning Africa’s development.
The meeting which opened on Monday with closed door sessions with dignitaries continues on Thursday.