A major way in which African countries can sustain their economies is by changing the character of their major export crops and minerals into finished goods for export, President John Dramani Mahama has stated.
Changing of the character, he explained, entailed the establishment of processing factories to absorb the growing supply of raw materials in the agriculture and minerals industries.
President Mahama stated this when he addressed participants at the Fourth African CEOs’ Forum, held in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast.
The session, which opened on Monday, is the foremost platform for CEOs and officials of African international companies to share experiences and ideas, expand their networking systems, and find new financial partners in the continent and beyond.
They also use the forum as the vehicle or driving force in the development of the African private sector, to learn from the best practices of fast-growing companies in the continent, and promote their companies within the African continent and beyond.
The President argued that value addition would create more jobs for the teeming Ghanaian youth and sustain industry on account of persistent falling commodity prices in the international markets.
He said much as African countries were making some significant impact in industrialisation and processing, most of the states were still import-dependent and suggested that countries should leverage themselves in areas that they were comparatively superior.
On partnerships and integration in the sub-region, President Mahama called for vigorous intra-trade that would create an impetus for them to specialize and step up production in their areas of specialisation.
He explained that language, currency and tariff differentials had over the years stifled intra-trade and commerce, saying that the current harmonisation of external tariffs would pave way for high volumes of trade partnership among African countries.
He said most West African countries had the political will to speed up trade links and appealed to the private sector to take advantage of the available opportunities to create more links in the coming years.
On energy generation, President Mahama said industrialisation and economic growth hinged on energy and urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to invest heavily in hydro and solar energy to supplement their existing capacities.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said his country was liaising with other West African countries to make them self-reliant shortly. The relationship, he said, would need frequent sharing of ideas and experiences in trade, commerce and industry to reduce overdependence on the developed world.
President Ouattara said the forum would create an opportunity for most companies to spread out to other African countries and beyond.
Since the first CEO forum edition in 2012, it has become the flagship forum for African investors and their partners to fine-tune their development agenda in the continent.
More than 800 participants, comprising 500 CEOs from the African continent, 100 bankers and investors, 200 high profile African and international Very Important Personnel are attending the 2016 edition, hosted by Groupe Jeune Afrique, in partnership with the African Development Bank and Rainbow Unlimited.
It is the first time the forum is hosted by an African country since its inception.
President Mahama is accompanied by Dr Edward Omane Boamah, Minister for Communications, Mr Emmanuel Armah Kofi-Buah, Minister for Petroleum, Mr Prosper Douglas Bani, Minister for Interior and Alhaji Baba Kamara, Security Advisor.