"Africa is a very attractive destination for investment": "we know that multinationals in Africa are making returns on investment unparalleled in any part of the world, maybe equalled only in China and India; so Africa is a very attractive destination for investment," says Haiko Alfeld, (above), director for Africa at the World Economic Forum, in this interview with New African's Stuart Price.

Author:Price, Stuart
Position:Interview
 
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New African: What is the aim and purpose of the Africa Economic Summit and how is this year's summit different from last year?

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Alfeld: Each year, the African Economic Summit brings leaders from business, politics, civil society, academia and other stakeholders to take part in high level discussions on public policy and economic issues, impediments and barriers to growth, and also to celebrate African successes. This year presents an enormous opportunity as the G8 and the Commission for Africa have focused the world's attention on Africa, and are mobilising the necessary partnerships and resources to include the plight of the continent.

NA: How can Africa make itself more appealing to investment?

Alfeld: Improving the investment climate is a key theme to this year's summit, in fact we have two sessions on it, and one of the main plenary sittings is directly related to it. It will focus on branding Africa, not re-branding, as there is a strong feeling that Africa cannot be re-branded. In fact it never has been, other than in a negative context. We want to look at how can Africa build a brand much like the Asian Tigers have done, by addressing the negative stereotypes, by telling good stories, by showing that Africa is open for business.

NA: What role does the private sector play in economic growth and development of the continent?

Alfeld: The private sector plays a key role in Africa's regeneration. It is a focus for growth and it creates jobs. But also through its corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship activities, it often ploughs back or provides services that in many African countries, the state either cannot or will not provide.

NA: What action or ideas have been implemented following last year's summit in Maputo?

Alfeld: A lot of the partnerships and initiatives discussed in Maputo are picked up by campaigners, interested parties and groupings. So from last year, we know there has been traction on agri-business, we had two sessions on getting produce to market, how we can build Africa's capacity to trade. I know that quite a few corporations are linked up with Nepad in support of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development plan.

On health, there has been a lot of information sharing and best practice exchanges on workplace treatments for HIV. There has also been a lot of development in the field of water. In Maputo, there was discussion on how the public and private sector can work more...

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