Can Africa really boom?

Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Fund. Photo by: Sebastian Derungs / World Economic Forum / CC BY-NC-SA

Africa is growing steadily, but can the continent really boom despite huge gaps with other emerging economies, and will the growth be sustainable?

Those questions are on the mind of government officials, economists, businessmen and experts gathering in Cape Town, South Africa to take part in the XXIII World Economic Forum on Africa from May 8 to 10.

Under the theme “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”, the meeting is bringing together regional and leaders from the public and private sector to discuss the continent’s prospects for the future and map out a common strategy to achieve sustainable growth in a troubled land.

Almost half of African nations, according to the World Bank, are now middle-income countries, but at the same time they are threatened by fluctuating commodity prices, rising inequality and youth unemployment.

Speaking at the forum on Thursday, African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka said that “Africa has to find its own form of development that works for this continent.”

Kaberuka noted the need to do away with dependence on foreign aid and “basing our development on other people’s taxation.”

Another key issue discussed in Cape Town was competitiveness. The AfDB’s Africa Competitiveness Report 2013 released the same day said that long-term competitiveness is needed if the continent truly wants to improve its living standards, and called for more regional integration to help achieve this goal.

Kaberuka however counted risk factors such as conflict, poor infrastructure and above all the astronomical cost of doing business in Africa’s as key obstacles for the continent’s development.

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