Africa’s Opportunity in Addis

DAKAR – This week, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital and a city full of symbolic importance for all of Africa, will host the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. Most developing countries hold high expectations for the conference. They hope it will offer new means to improve social welfare at a time when financing their development needs has become increasingly difficult.

For most African countries, the key challenge nowadays is structural economic transformation. Simply put, our economies must be able to create enough good jobs to employ growing populations. Africa is home to one billion people, 74% of whom are younger than 24, and 61.3% of whom are women. The United Nations predicts that by 2040, just one generation from now, Africa’s total population will exceed two billion – 70.1% under the age of 25, with women accounting for 57.7%.

These young men and women need – and are increasingly demanding – high-quality education and jobs. Thus, African governments must seize this opportunity to advocate for increased financing for sustainable development, building on the mobilization of more significant domestic revenue.

The good news is that there has been real progress on this front. At both the national and regional levels, policymakers are paying greater attention to domestic resource mobilization as a means of leveraging the effectiveness of external assistance. In this context, strengthening our countries’ administrative capacity is critical, for it will enable us to make the best possible use of the financial and technical assistance provided by bilateral and multilateral institutions.