Leading thinkers affirm Africa’s enormous potential and proven paths to prosperity
“With proven reforms, we’ve researched, there is no reason African countries could not become some of the most economically free and prosperous nations on earth’’ according to Fred McMahon, who serves as the Dr. Michael A. Walker Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute, a leading Canadian think tank.
These opening remarks were delivered during a recent Africa Accelerating 2022 conference, which welcomed messages from heads of state and government on the African continent and in Canada – kicking off three days of deliberations on how best to accelerate trade and investment between Canada and African markets.
For McMahon and numerous speakers drawn from the private and public sectors – as well as civil society – the message was clear: African countries can succeed, with Canada as a trusted partner in trade and investment, including in the creation of an enabling environment for economic development, through collaboration with some of its leading researchers.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) served as a central point for deliberations over 3-days in Johannesburg, with hundreds of in-person delegates joined interactively by delegates at a satellite venue in Toronto and thousands of online registrants.
The official conference panel on Free Trade and “Canada’s ongoing role as a trusted third-party partner for long-term prosperity” followed a keynote address by H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General to the AfCFTA Secretariat, who underscored the importance of free trade and markets.
Ayanda Khumalo, Vice Chair of the Board at the FMF (a member of the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World Network) delivered the official Economic Freedom presentation, which preceded a forum with African and Canadian Ministerial representatives deliberating on effective strategies for trade and investment across African markets.
Khumalo detailed the institutional and policy prerequisites for successful free trade and prosperity, in which businesses – especially at the early stage – can grow and succeed.
“The world’s premier measurement of economic freedom by the Fraser Institute ranks countries based on five areas—the size of government, legal structure and property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and the regulation of credit, labour, and business,” he explained, summarising decades of data. “There is absolutely no reason the top global rankings should not be dominated by African countries – with market potential translated to majorly improved outcomes.”
Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, the Canada-Africa Chamber’s Special Envoy to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement concurred, recognising the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World Report as “an invaluable resource that shows not only the importance of free trade but the supporting institutional and policy framework for African countries to succeed as members within a thriving African free trade bloc”.
“The Economic Freedom of the World Report is an incredible contribution from Canada to the cause of economic freedom and prosperity around the world,” he added.
Inspired by the work of the Fraser Institute, one of several tangible outcomes of the 3-day conference included a Memorandum of Understanding, signed between the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business and the Initiative for African Trade and Prosperity, comprised of African policy entrepreneurs and innovators working to accelerate trade and investment – with a particular focus on AfCFTA. With the sponsorship of 121 Canada, the MoU commits the Canada-Africa Chamber of Business to support the IATP through full member benefits of the Canada-Africa Chamber, which include access to programmes, events management, media services, and matchmaking young leaders across Africa with Canadian organizations and prospective partners.