Africa’s integration: Investing in our common future
African and OECD policy makers gathered on 29 November 2019 in Madrid to join Europe’s largest annual conversation on Africa’s ongoing transformation. The 17th International Economic Forum on Africa, jointly organised by the African Union, the Government of Spain, the OECD Development Centre and partners, focused on the theme, “Africa’s integration: Investing in our common future.” Governments have made it a priority to create an “enabling environment,” a favourable ecosystem for African business. With the African population set to hit 2 billion by 2030, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) raises new hopes of an integrated market to support the continent’s industrialisation and productive transformation. However, discussions highlighted that African firms remain ill-equipped to withstand the competition of global players. Moreover, the continent’s business systems remain largely inefficient. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises are often cut off from each other - preventing the circulation of technology and know-how - and unable to access markets beyond a small perimeter. Backward and forward linkages are relatively weak; regional linkages between markets are also insufficient. What measures could boost investments to better connect African regions with one another? What bottlenecks are impeding co-ordination amongst development partners? Discussions drew on key findings from the second edition of the Africa’s Development Dynamics report on achieving productive transformation.