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Forum discusses strategies to realize Africa's promise

By Zhang Yuwei and Joey Catanzaro in Libreville, Gabon (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-25 11:11

More than 800 business leaders and politicians attended the New York Forum Africa in Libreville, Gabon, on the weekend to discuss growth strategies for the "most promising continent of the century".

Richard Attias, founder of the New York Forum Institute and co-founder of the New York Forum Africa, said partnerships that unlock the competitiveness of the continent's economy will promote further growth opportunities and create jobs.

Forum discusses strategies to realize Africa's promise
Putting Chinese companies together with US and European companies and building joint ventures in Africa is the future, he said.

"If you compete instead of sharing, at the end of the day you kill jobs," he added.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose country has hosted the forum for the past three years, exchanged ideas with three former heads of state from Latin America during a panel discussion on the roadmap for Africa's economic growth.

Alejandro Toledo, the former president of Peru, said that if Africa wants to be a promising continent, it has to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality and work for social inclusion.

He also said women needed to play a bigger role in Africa's economy.

"The return from investing in women is much higher than from investing in men," said Toledo.

Jorge Quiroga, the former president of Bolivia, said it is important for Africa to develop its internal infrastructure's integration.

"We always talk about trade and common currencies, but we never see the basic things we have to hook up," Quiroga said.

Li Dongwei, director of the representative office of the China-Africa Development Fund in Zambia, said public-private partnerships can help Chinese companies be more involved in the local economy.

"These kind of partnerships help build different local projects, most of which wouldn't start otherwise because of the lack of capital. A partnership, instead of one-way investment, will have a longer-term impact," Li said. Chinese investors have already tapped into the health, education, transport and storage sectors. There are now more than 1,600 Chinese development projects worth $75 billion in more than 50 African countries.

China Harbor Engineering Co is building an iconic waterfront in Libreville as part of the city center's development. About 100 local employees and some 30 Chinese workers are engaged in the 14-month project, said Zhao Yang, China Harbor's deputy director for Gabon operations.

Gabonese engineer Wissu Ipemboussou is one of the project's local workers.

"It used to be a holiday park. Now, it's becoming something much better," he said.

Contact the writers through yuweizhang@chinadailyusa.com

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