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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has predicted that the African economy will continue to thrive with consumer spending projected to peak at $1.4 trillion over the next three years.
He gave this projection thursday when he declared open the High-Level Policy and Private Sector Trade and Investment Facilitation Forum in Abuja.
The international business parley was co-hosted by Nigeria, ECOWAS Commission in partnership with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD).
Several trade and investment ministers from African countries are attending the two-day event.
The vice president said in spite of Africa having the youngest population, bearing the brunt of security challenges, climate change and facing difficulty in the environment, its economy is better than before with GDP that averaged 2.2 per cent in 2016, estimated to rise to 3.4 per cent this year and 24.3 percent by 2036.
He said 12 African countries have grown at over 5 per cent, driven largely by the non-oil economy.
Some of the leading performers were Ivory Coast at 8.2 per cent, Tanzania 8 percent and Senegal 6.7 per cent.
This week, Nigeria moved by 24 points from the 169th position in the 2017 ranking to 145 in the current World Bank Ease of Doing Business index out of 190 countries.
It is one of the top 10 countries carrying out numerous reforms to improve their business environments.
In addition, Osinbajo said with Africa emerging the second fastest growing destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the expected investment inflow into the continent by the end of the year is $57.5 billion, currently, the FDI into the continent for 2016 stands at $56.5 billion.
According to him, good governance has inspired African economies to perform better than global average enabled by macroeconomic stability, large markets and widening domestic demands among others
â€œFor Africa to maximise the benefits, African countries must embrace the importance of trade and investment in economic development all over the world. There is also the need for poor infrastructure that has impacted on the low capacity building to be addressed by various leaders to ensure that trade and investments take the centre stage in the economic development of the continent,â€ Osinbajo said.
He offered the assurance of federal government intention to implement the decisions reached by stakeholders at the Abuja global business parley.
Trade Industry and Investment Minister, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, stated that Africaâ€™s total investment requirements for infrastructure is estimated by the World Bank at $120 to $150 billion per annum.
Enelamah said the gap between infrastructure investment requirements and available financial resources at about $60 to $80 billion yearly should not be taken for granted.
The United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD estimated that Nigeria and all African countries require as much $2.5 trillion yearly both domestic and foreign and investment to attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mukhisa Kituyi, called for improved trade and investment among African countries and the lowering of tariffs among them for economic facilitation.
Meanwhile, the WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevedo, said infrastructure is key to trade and investment facilitation.
Azevedo also lauded Nigeria for showing strong leadership in Africa.