According to the leading international lobbying organization, African countries will need to work with the rest of the world to actualize these priorities, as they are essential to the economic development of the continent.
Priority areas are highlighted and discussed below.
1. Achieving vaccine equity for Africa
While COVID-19 continues to pose a significant threat to humanity, Africa is lagging behind in efforts to vaccinate a large portion of its population. Available statistics show that only 77 million Africans (about 6% of the continent’s population) are fully immunized. It is very catastrophic compared to other regions of the world. And as the World Economic Forum has pointed out, the extremely low level of vaccination in Africa increases the risks of variants and infections, which inevitably have a negative impact on the well-being of many people and African economies.
To help African countries better manage the pandemic, the World Economic Forum has urged global policymakers to come up with plans that “ensure the equitable allocation of limited doses until there is a sufficient global supply”.
2. Preparing Africa to play a global role
According to the WEF, Africa is ready to play a major role on the world stage. This is due, in part, to the continent’s demographics which will become very important to the world at a time when global working-age populations are steadily declining.
Note that half of the projected growth of 2 billion in the world’s population over the next three decades will occur in sub-Saharan Africa. And the continent’s labor force will continue to outpace other regions of the world. And Africa’s human resources will continue to be useful around the world. And this, alongside Africa’s anticipated economic growth, will give the continent more leverage in world affairs.
In the meantime, African countries will need to undertake some reforms in order to be able to capitalize on these trends. Specifically, the WEF noted that “Africa, more than many other regions, desperately needs to provide the education and skills training needed for the jobs of tomorrow”.
3. African countries must exploit the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
According to the WEF, (AfCFTA) holds huge economic promise for African countries, especially at a time when the continent is still reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic. As you may know, the AfCFTA makes Africa the largest free trade area in the world in terms of coverage area and number of countries. About 55 countries with a combined population and GDP of $1.3 billion and $3.4 trillion, respectively, are signatories to the agreement. However, some aspects of the agreement still need to be negotiated and agreed upon before it can fully enter into force. The WEF therefore recommends that it is high time for these negotiations to take place so that African countries fully reap the many benefits of the AfCFTA.
4. The need to accelerate Africa’s digital transformation
The report notes that while the digital transformation of goods and services markets and general supply chains is expected to continue to accelerate in 2022, it is incumbent on African countries to make the critical investments in education that will be needed to “pull full advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
5. The need to finance Africa’s green transition
This is another high priority for African countries. And this is a priority because even if the continent currently contributes the least to global warming, it is the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Therefore, the need must be on deck in order to provide “more support for climate change adaptation and mitigation”.