We are motivated to develop a vibrant single African market. From the time of our independence, we have always looked towards the developed countries for selling our products and no doubt, we will continue to do so. But it is also my firm belief, that the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) which we have pledged to establish can create a single and receptive African market for African goods and services.
The Continental Free Trade Area would no doubt contribute to unleash the huge trade potential of our continent and create the right conditions to mobilise both African and Foreign Direct Investment, with the ensuing positive spin on economic development, job creation and, of course, the fight against poverty.
Having a single African Market will make us more self-reliant and independent. We achieved political independence long ago. Let us now achieve economic independence.
What is now important is to take concrete actions in respect of the CFTA by aiming to complete the process of establishing an ambitious, comprehensive CFTA by December 2017.
When Africa stands together in solidarity, when we start ‘Making across Africa’ for a single African market, we will see Africa rising. As leaders of the Continent, it will be our responsibility to find innovative ways to finance this vision of a united and integrated Africa. Finance Africa should therefore be our next step.
Whether such finance comes from domestic resource mobilisation, accessing liquidity under various international funds or other sources to be identified.
All these must be the focus of a dialogue that the stakeholders of the African Economic Platform should evolve to guide us in our demarche.
As Leaders, with a duty to take this Continent upward and forward so that our future generations can look to a better future, we must find means to nurture the talent that lies within our fold.
The bulging Youth of Africa, the strong-willed women of Africa are major strengths for our Continent which, I must say, we often overlook. It is high time that we put a full and final full stop to the slogan that says that “Poverty has a woman’s face in Africa.”
Poverty will neither have a Face nor a Place in Africa when we embark upon People Empowerment. Because our Youth, the Women who have always acted as pillars of our homes and societies need to be given prominence in our development plans for Africa. Public and private sectors should also work together to factor in this empowerment perspective, for no development can be sustained when some are left behind.
The private sector plays a vital role in promoting investment and economic prosperity. And in Mauritius, we have encouraged the private sector to take on social responsibilities. Amongst the various projects that Corporate Social Responsibility has led to in this country, is a project of low-cost housing for the most vulnerable.
So, let us provide the business community with the necessary tools to carry out their operations in a predictable, transparent and fair manner and let the private sector walk alongside us by taking a measure of responsibility for growing a prosperous, empowered and equitable society. Let the public-private sector alliance be built on good governance, transparency and accountability.
And the best way of ensuring this and giving greater confidence to investors is for us, as Leaders of the Continent, to put in place strong institutions, especially in the judiciary, ensure a greater freedom to the press and to the academia, and empower our civil society.
Mauritius is a country built on strong institutions and we stand ready to host regional and international institutions that will help advance our continent. The Africa Foundation is one such institution.
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