June 14, 2024
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Hekima Accra ends with strong call for private-public partnerships to accelerate Africa’s economic transformation

Hekima Accra, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), ended with a resounding call for collaborations between the private sector and the state to spearhead Africa’s economic transformation.

With a focus on unlocking practical solutions for economic transformation in Ghana and Africa, the event emphasized concrete pathways to drive structural economic transformation and inclusive development across Africa. The conversation, held on the topic “Speeding up transformation – which way for Ghana and Africa?”, was convened by the UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa with Dr Kingsley Yeboah Amoako, Founder and President of African Center for Economic Transformation and Former Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) – who was the ‘thinker’.

The discussions emphasized the need for institutional strengthening, investment in technology and innovation, empowerment of small businesses, accountability, value addition to increase export of made-in-Africa products, and development financing as some of the practical ways of speeding up Africa’s transformation.  

Dr. Amoako stressed that true economic transformation in Africa must involve a comprehensive approach. “We must invest strategically in certain areas to unlock sustainable and inclusive development for the benefit of all. We need to focus on key pillars such as diversity, export competitiveness, productivity, and technology. These elements hold the power to shape Africa’s economic future and drive inclusive development across the continent”, he noted.

Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa noted that Africa’s finance gap for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is estimated at $331 billion and the private sector needs to create new financing models to support SMEs to contribute to job creation and inclusive development.

“Collaboration between the private sector and the state is crucial for unlocking Africa’s economic transformation. By fostering synergy and seizing opportunities together, we can address challenges and drive sustainable and inclusive development across the continent”, she noted.

The UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Angela Lusigi in her opening remarks stated that “we need to invest in green growth and empower youth and women to foster innovation and create a transformed Africa that leaves no one behind”.  

The discussion at the event was enriched by interventions from representatives from the private sector, entrepreneurs, and youth, moderated by the Host of Pan African TV, Ms. Harriet Nartey. Mr. Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo, CEO of Suku Technologies and Greater Accra Chairman of the Association of Ghana Industries, who represented the private sector, underscored the need for the private sector to invest in development to be profitable.

Ms. Jennifer Eweonam Aforla, CEO of Dzordzoe Skincare, stressed the need for more networking, sensitization, and training programmes for MSMEs to effectively leverage opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. In addition, Nadia Owusu, a Youth Advocate, called for more opportunities for young people, who are already demonstrating they are capable.

The Hekima Accra was crowned with a mini-exhibition by women and youth-led entrepreneurs, who showcased various made-in-Africa products including clothing, shoes, cosmetics, and cereals. The mini-expo dubbed HerAfCFTA, is a UNDP-led initiative, to strengthen export readiness for women entrepreneurs. 

Hekima means wisdom in Swahili and it is a series of groundbreaking and robust dialogues – to mine and harvest thought leadership and homegrown solutions for Africa’s sustainable and resilient development. It is a product of UNDP Africa’s African Influencers for Development (AI4Dev) –a signature private sector partnership initiative.  The Hekima Accra was the first in-person edition, after two virtual series during COVID-19.  The event brought together practitioners – in government, academia, and the private sector to explore innovative strategies for accelerating Africa’s structural economic transformation.

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