Africa can rebuild following the Covid-19 pandemic by pushing through urgent reforms that tackle illicit fund outflows, improve management of indigenous resources, and invest in human capital, economic policymakers said during the 2021 African Economic Conference (AEC) on Thursday.
“It’s up to African leaders to build solid institutions that will stop illicit fund outflows and money laundering. The money from Africa needs to serve primarily the African continent. That’s the best way to contribute to the financing of the African continent in the wake of the pandemic,” Cabo Verde Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Olavo Correia said during a ministerial dialogue on leadership.
The 16th edition of the African Economic Conference is being held in a hybrid format, with key delegates gathering in the Cabo Verde island of Sal as well as virtually. It brings together a wide range of stakeholders, including policymakers, development institutions, the private sector, and researchers, to discuss ways to sustainably grow the continent’s development funding sources.
The African Development Bank estimates that African governments require additional financing of about $484.6 billion within the next three years to close the financing gap and emerge more resilient from the Covid-19 crisis.
He supported calls for the renegotiation of debt to ease the devastating impact of the pandemic on developing nations. He cited the Cabo Verde economy’s reliance on migrant remittances and services such as tourism, noting that 60% of the country’s fiscal revenues go to service debt. “We cannot have an economy that works only to pay its debts,” he said.
Solutions should go beyond debt pardons. “Governments must also be rational in their public expenditures and account to the people for each dollar spent,” Correia added.
Nicolas Kazadi, Finance Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, called for higher investment in human capital to create sustainable wealth. He said Africa must use the experience of the Covid-19 crisis to relaunch economic growth, working with the private sector and development partners. “We must enable the private sector to act and reduce poverty. The public sector should act as the catalyzer.”