Lagos – There has been considerable progress on achieving the Millennium Development Goals since their inception in 2000. But, despite the best efforts of governments, reaching those goals by the 2015 target date still remains a distant prospect for many countries, not the least of in Africa.
Many of us in Africa’s private sector are keen to make a difference in meeting these goals. At the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), reducing poverty on the African continent through private-sector initiative is our mission. For, in the end, the private sector is and will be the engine of growth in Africa, and its increasingly active involvement in the development process bodes well for the continent.
Africa’s development challenges are well known. More than 40% of its population lives on less than a dollar a day. Over half a billion people live without modern forms of energy, and the continent’s share of global trade remains a paltry 3%.
Lack of basic infrastructure and industrial capacity remains one of Africa’s biggest problems, for it sustains poverty and undermines the continent’s ability to compete with the rest of the world. Transport costs for sub-regional trade are double that of other developing regions, and high energy costs contribute significantly to the prohibitive cost of doing business.