Investments - []

According to  Africa needs more private investments to strengthen its economy and to fast track the growth of the continent, say panelists at the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa 2016.

The 26th annual WEF on Africa kicked off on Wednesday under the theme ‘Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation’.

The three-day high level meeting has brought together more than 1,500 delegates from Africa and beyond.

At the special session titled ‘Growth in Africa: Rising or Falling?’, a distinguished panel of experts discussed whether Africa is shifting from “deficits” and “gaps” to opportunities, prospects, ventures and creativity.

“Business is booming in Africa, and now is the time for companies to invest. African economies welcome both foreign and local investments to make these economies vibrant,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenyatta noted that African governments should start pulling down trade barriers to promote intra-African trade.

“Private sector is an essential link in the development cooperation chain, as it drives economic growth. More private investments mean more industries hence advanced economies. We also need to create a conducive environment for these investments to flourish,” Kenyatta said.

According to David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for the last 15 years, trade in Africa grew rapidly due to demand from emerging markets.

“The IMF has been a close partner in Africa’s journey, and we are supporting the region through this rough patch. Africa has just experienced a 15-year period of remarkable growth and development. However more investments will help transform this continent and give new hope for the future,” he noted.

Lipton further said that Africa leads the world in mobile adoption, which continues to offer the biggest cross-sectoral economic opportunities.

Amid falling commodity prices and continuing weakness in global growth, Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth decelerated to an estimated 3% in 2015 from 4,5% in 2014, according to the latest World Bank projections.

“Growth is there but it is captured by a few and the majority is left out. African economies are finally beginning to diversify beyond commodities, though this is still in the early stages,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

She noted that the continent is seeing a returning diaspora that recognises the potential and opportunities in their own countries and invests back in their own communities.

However, Tony O. Elumelu, Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist said that to attract private investments is key to promoting business in Africa.

“Business leaders are hungry for vibrant new markets in areas of energy, technology, supply chain design and others,” Elumelu noted.

The IMF forecasts that Africa will be the second-fastest growing region in the world between 2016 and 2020 with an annual growth of 4,3%