Africa, world’s next business frontier, says AfDB president

African Development Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, said on Wednesday that Africa remained fertile ground for investment, but much hinged on the continent’s ability to boost its healthcare sector.

Adesina spoke during the Africa Investment Conference, a virtual one-day event organised by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade, which brought together UK and African business and government leaders to discuss investment and partnership opportunities.

Four sectors were under the spotlight: sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, financial and professional services, and agriculture and agri-tech.

As part of the conference, UK Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith joined Adesina in a fireside chat on the theme ‘Building back better – utilising the UK private sector strengths and values, and business-to-business opportunities working with the UK government and others going forward.’

“The fundamentals in those phenomenal growth rates in Africa are still there…Africa still leads in terms of ease of doing business…It’s very exciting, the digital explosion that you see in Africa today,” Adesina said, listing among others the tide of mergers and acquisitions among African firms.

Wade-Smith said she was heartened to learn that 10 of the fastest-growing economies were still in Africa, adding that there was not enough awareness of how much innovation was happening in the region. She said there was an opportunity to blend African and UK innovation. “I’ve been struck by how many opportunities there are,” Wade-Smith said.

British investors were urged to pay attention to Africa. “That’s where the next frontier is,” Adesina said.

The conference followed last year’s successful UK-Africa Investment Summit, hosted in London, where 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5bn and commitments valued at £8.9bn were announced.

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