Opening Address by IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou
at TICAD 7 Opening Session
Yokohama, Japan | August 28, 2019
Your Excellency Prime Minister Abe; Your Excellency President Al Sisi; Excellencies; Heads of State and Government; Ministers; ladies and gentlemen:
It is an honor for me to make remarks on behalf of the World Bank Group President, who regrets that he is unable to be with us. I would like to join others in thanking the Government and people of Japan, and the City of Yokohama, for their warm welcome.
The World Bank Group is honored to be a co-organizer of TICAD, and we welcome the theme of advancing Africa’s development through people, technology, and innovation.
I would also like to commend Prime Minister Abe for his visionary leadership in focusing on the private sector since TICAD 5 and for increasing the involvement of Japanese and African private sector actors since TICAD 6.
We are meeting today in challenging times, with rising trade barriers, a build-up of government debt in many developing economies, and deeper than expected slowdowns in several major economies.
These challenges extend to African countries. Economic growth in Africa, especially in resource intensive countries, has been slowing over the past years. Many Sub-Saharan African countries have heavy public debt burdens. And climate change is already taking a toll.
These are some of the difficulties the continent must overcome, but there are also tremendous opportunities. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement will make the region the largest free trade area in the world. Africa is rich in natural resources. Digital technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity for the continent to leapfrog the traditional development path. And, last but not least, Africa’s youth are perhaps its greatest resource.
Taking advantage of these opportunities will create jobs. To keep pace with its growing population, the continent needs about 20 million new jobs every year.
Moreover, over 40% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 15. To paraphrase President Akufo-Addo of Ghana, African countries must act to ensure that this young population constitutes a demographic dividend, not a demographic liability.
At the Africa CEO Forum in Kigali this past March, President Kagame summed up in one word what we must change. And that is “mindset.” All of us—governments, development partners, and the private sector—must change the way we think about the public and private sectors in economic growth and job creation.
We need a new approach between the public and private sectors to unlock Africa’s potential.
We need governments to ensure sound macroeconomic management, debt transparency and sustainability.
We need legal and regulatory frameworks that provide an attractive and level playing field for companies.
We need governments to foster private sector investments in quality infrastructure.
On the other hand, we need private sector companies who see more the great opportunity, than the possible risks, to do business in Africa. Together, the public and private sectors can ignite the continent’s economy.
At the World Bank Group, we are embracing this change of mindset. We are increasing our support to African governments to diversify their economies and implement pro-business reforms.
We have developed a new approach called the “Cascade,” by which we pursue private sector solutions where possible so that scarce public resources can be used where they are most needed.
In fact, the World Bank Group is a “de-risking machine.”
We de-risk countries through the World Bank’s policy-based loans and public sector projects. And we de-risk private sector investments and projects directly through IFC financing and MIGA guarantees.
Since IDA 18, with the introduction of the $2.5 billion Private Sector Window, we have new instruments to de-risk and catalyze private sector investments in the world’s poorest countries.
Talking about IDA, as you know, IDA is the part of the World Bank Group that helps the world’s poorest countries. And it is one of the largest sources of concessional finance for the continent. About two thirds of IDA resources go to Africa.
The 19th replenishment of IDA is scheduled to be concluded in December. We are aiming for an ambitious amount, building on a successful meeting hosted by the Ethiopian government in Addis Ababa two months ago. I would like to call on you for your support in achieving this goal.
In closing, TICAD has a tradition of promoting important issues.
TICAD 6 was instrumental in raising the profile of universal health coverage for Africa.
We hope that TICAD 7 will help strengthen the partnership between the public sector and the private sector to accelerate Africa’s development.