Owning our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on a Platform of Global Africa

Yemi Kale

As I reflect on my participation at the recently concluded Afreximbank 2024 Annual Meetings in Nassau, Bahamas premised on the theme ‘Owning our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on a Platform of Global Africa’, I am reminded about what really matters, not only in my professional capacity as the Group Chief Economist at what is aptly described as the Global African Bank-Afreximbank, but also on my role as a citizen of the continent and key stakeholder of this Global Africa movement. Being principally responsible for the intellectual sessions and segments of the three-day meetings, which featured over 100 high level speakers who gave insightful remarks and suggestions across 18 technical panel sessions, and with about 4,000 attendees, I could clearly see the imperative for Africa to harness its own resources, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit to chart a path towards sustainable growth and global influence.

For too long, Africa, despite its immense wealth, has been viewed through a lens of poverty, conflict, fragility and instability. Africa’s development has been shaped by external forces—colonialism, foreign aid, global economic dynamics, and fragmentation that traces its history to Berlin. A divided Africa – of about 2 billion people scattered across the world – has certainly not thrived in their individuality. While these narratives and influences have hindered Africa’s ability to attract investments, slowed the continent’s growth and development and left indelible marks, they have also obscured the continent’s inherent strengths, and prevented African nations from reaching their full potential.

However, our conversations in Nassau have shown that this narrative is undergoing a profound transformation, and Africa is increasingly being recognized not just for its vast natural resources and resilience in the face of global shocks, but also its globally dispersed young and dynamic population, its vibrant culture and its growing consumer class. To capitalize on this momentum, African nations are now appreciating the vision of its forefathers and embracing the need to come together to create a unified ‘Global Africa’ vision for the continent’s future. The concept of “Global Africa” is one that emphasizes the interconnectedness of Africans across the globe and the importance of collaboration and unity in achieving prosperity in a world where isolationism and neo-protectionism are increasingly prevalent

At the ‘Global African Bank’-Afreximbank, this “Global Africa” vision is a multifaceted and ambitious concept aimed at integrating Africans into the global economy while simultaneously fostering intra-African cooperation and development. By emphasizing the historical context as a critical middle passage to understanding Africa’s current underdevelopment, particularly the transatlantic slave trade which culminated in negative demographic consequences, economic disruption, internal instability and cultural erosion, this Global Africa vision aims to create a future where Africa can thrive both independently and as a dynamic player in global affairs. The concept of Global Africa is therefore not just a means to integrate Africa into the global economy but is one that seeks to promote the economic interests of all Africans irrespective of geographic location. Indeed, the gathering of Africans in the Bahamas for the 2024 Afreximbank Annual Meetings underscored the need to forge strong alliances that will enable us to deal with our common challenges in an era of rising polycrisis.

Strengthening Regional Integration through the AfCFTA and Afri-Caribbean Free Trade Agreement

A key component of this vision is the promotion of intra-African trade and Afri-Caribbean trade. Currently, intra African trade, though rising, still accounts for only about 15% of its total trade, compared to about 69% in Europe and 59% in Asia.  Afri-Carribean Trade is even smaller at under 2%. To increase intra-African trade and Afri-Caribbean trade, we must -as summarized in the Afreximbank President, Bennedict Oramah, own statement at the meetings- prioritise the establishment of sea and air link between these two regions, facilitating human resource exchanges that will foster skills, knowledge and technology transfers. Furthermore, we must collectively build strong and sizeable continental regional development financial institutions, including accelerating steps towards creating the Caribbean Exim Bank to promote Afri-Caribbean trade, to reduce dependence on exports to other regions, create new economic opportunities, and stimulate job growth. With the Global African bank, Afreximbank, championing regional integration between Africa and the Caribbean, we can significantly boost intra-global African trade, enhance competitiveness, and attract foreign investment, while promoting political stability and collective bargaining power on the global stage.

Technological Innovation and Digital Economy

Africa is home to a growing community of tech entrepreneurs, who are leveraging technology to solve some of global Africans’ most pressing challenges. From mobile money platforms that support home remittances to telemedicine services, African startups are at the forefront of digital innovation. The rapid adoption of mobile technology across Africa is a testament to the continent’s potential for technological leapfrogging. Countries like Kenya, with its M-Pesa mobile banking platform, have demonstrated how innovation can drive financial inclusion and economic empowerment.

Value Addition through Empowered Human Capital & Optimized Resource Management

Africa is rich in natural resources and boasts the world’s youngest population, with over 60% of its population under the age of 25. Correctly harnessing this youthful energy present across the globe is a powerhouse for innovation and growth. Equipping young Africans with the skills and education, particularly in STEM fields, to thrive in a digital economy can transform global Africa into a hub of technological advancement. Moreover, fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and providing access to capital can unleash a wave of startups that drive local and global markets.

Although Africa is richly endowed with natural resources, Africa must focus on value addition and end the historical pattern of exporting raw materials and importing finished goods which has perpetuated economic dependency. This means developing industries, such as the Electric Vehicle sector, that can beneficiate rare earth metals and other such raw materials domestically, thereby creating jobs on the continent as well as increasing Africa’s GDP and wealth.

Harnessing the Diaspora

The African diaspora scattered across the globe, represents a vast reservoir of talent, expertise, and financial resources that can be engaged through investment opportunities, knowledge transfer, and cultural exchange to accelerate Africa’s development. Beyond the financial capital inflows from the African diaspora, are the human capital investments made when experienced and empowered ‘repatriates’ return home to the continent to help build their countries, cities and communities of origin – particularly by leveraging their often vast and powerful global networks and net worth.

Sustainable Development and Climate Resilience

A Global Africa vision must prioritize sustainable development in the Caribbean and Africa’s fragile ecosystems. Both regions are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with significant impacts on agriculture, water resources, and health. Africa’s path to prosperity for all Africans must prioritize sustainable development and invest in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and climate-resilient infrastructure by pioneering green technologies and sustainable practices that protect its environment and set an example for the rest of the world. An AfCFTA implementation amalgamated with climate resilient development principles provides an opportunity to address climate change issues while simultaneously pursuing development goals and driving the objectives of a Global Africa”.

Cultural Pride and Identity

Africa has a rich and diverse cultural heritage-a source of strength and resilience for its people. By celebrating and preserving this heritage, Africans all over the world can build a sense of unity, solidarity, and a shared history and prosperity that transcends borders and fosters a sense of belonging and pride. This can help to counter negative stereotypes and perceptions of Africa and promote a more positive image of the continent on the global stage.

What is the Global African Bank Doing in this regard?

Afreximbank has spearheaded several projects and initiatives that embody this Global Africa narrative. This includes:

  • the Intra-Africa Trade Fair which aims to boost intra-Africa Trade by providing a platform for Global African businesses around the world to explore trade and investment opportunities,
  • MANSA repository which provides reliable information about Global African businesses thereby enhancing transparency and trust in Global African markets,
  • Pan-African Payment and Settlement System which facilitates cross border payments within Africa, reducing the cost and complexity of intra- Global African trade, and
  • Cultural promotion programs such as the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) are aimed at enhancing Global Africa’s soft power, ensuring that African narratives and identities are represented and respected globally.


As we navigate the complexities of a rapidly changing global landscape, it is becoming increasingly clear that the future of economic prosperity lies in Africa’s hands. With its rich resources, vibrant cultures, and innovative spirit, Africa has the potential to not only shape its own destiny but also influence the course of the global economy.

The Global Africa narrative, championed by Afreximbank (The Global Africa Bank) is a powerful tool in reshaping perceptions and driving development. Afreximbank is not only promoting economic growth but also advocating for comprehensive and reparative justice that acknowledges Africa’s historical experiences. This narrative is essential for building a future where Africa is recognized as a dynamic and integral part of the global economy, capable of achieving sustainable and inclusive development

Ultimately, the concept of Global Africa is about recognizing the potential of the continent and the importance of Africans wherever they may be based, working together to take ownership of their destiny. By working together and embracing their shared values and aspirations, Global Africans can unlock their full potential and create a brighter future for themselves. The journey is complex and fraught with challenges, but the vision of a prosperous, self-reliant Global Africa is not only achievable but imperative.

Dr. Yemi Kale is the Group Chief Economist & Managing Director of Research and International Cooperation at Afreximbank, Egypt. He was formerly a Partner and Chief Economist, at KPMG, Nigeria. Prior to this, he served as the Statistician General and CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria.

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