Inspiration .

Changing Africa .

By Isabel dos Santos .

How to accelerate Africa’s potential

A vast continent with huge potential and hard-working people who love their land… everything is in place for Africa to take the leap and become a robust economy. What needs to be done to make this happen?

Diversify exports and focus on industry

Today, African products reach the four corners of the earth and more and more trade partners are seeking out our goods. Trade in Africa has quadrupled in the last 20 years. The challenge now is to diversify exports, which currently consist mainly of raw materials. It is essential to bet on industrial products, and the manufacturing industry plays a crucial role. The continent needs to produce the goods that it currently buys abroad, and only the growth of industry in Africa can help reduce its import bill – a bill that continues to rise.

Promote trade between African countries

Trade between African countries still has a lot to give. We are talking about a consumer market of almost a billion people with growing purchasing power.

Where Angola is concerned, we have to move closer to our neighbours and promote our products and know-how. It is vital to take advantage of this geographical proximity and the bonds that we share. If all African countries focus on this huge potential, we can join forces and satisfy each other’s needs. We will see that there are countries with great agricultural capacity, while others boast strong industrial sectors and high productivity. This is how we are stimulating this giant, the African market, which promises huge benefits to all countries, without forgetting trade with the rest of the world.

Common payment platform

One great boost to intra-African trade would be a common form of payment, under which the different countries’ currencies could be converted without involving a third currency such as the dollar, euro or yen. This issue is actually preventing trade from growing to its full potential and must be key for political decision-makers throughout the continent. I believe that if we could simplify monetary transactions in Africa, it would raise international investors’ confidence in us.

Visas

In the fast-moving world of business, visas to enter or leave countries always constitute considerable constraints. Many contracts, trips and work meetings have to be postponed or even cancelled because of the time it takes to get a visa. Our reality today is not compatible with the demands of the business world. As an Angolan, I need a visa to travel to many parts of the world. I feel that it is essential to set up an alternative system for businesspeople who are only travelling for a few days. Simplifying administrative procedures would give the economy a real boost.

Technology

Technology is a powerful tool for leveraging our countries’ development. When we are thinking about how to meet all these challenges, we must always look for solutions in technology and innovation. We can even solve many of our problems, ranging from more complex matters, such as financial services, to normal, everyday questions. In such a young and increasingly qualified Africa, where the internet is advancing in leaps and bounds, innovation is a vital condition for unlocking the continent’s potential.