By Aminaash N.N. Brima
As the U.S. and African partners look to recover from the negative impact of COVID-19 on health and economic, a four day Africa-US Business Summit has been held in Marrakech, Morocco.
The Summit provided an excellent opportunity that explored the U.S and African public and private sectors renewed commitment to building stronger economic ties, expanding and deepening the U.S-Africa trade, investment and business relationship.
After six years of operation, Africa50 has become a key player in attracting infrastructure investment on a commercial basis in Africa to bridge the US$108 billion infrastructure gap.
Following the opening ceremony, Africa50 stakeholders gathered for a closed working session where they reviewed Africa50’s activities over the past years, approved financial reports and discussed long-term strategy with management in a way to restore the past glory of Africa.
It comes at a crucial time, especially when the continent including a country like Sierra Leone faces unprecedented external economic shocks and is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, this summit as ascribed by many is in line with President Bio’s visions towards achieving sustainable development in Sierra Leone.
During the Summit, there were calls for strong innovative and bold response to accelerate the recovery while driving climate-resilient and sustainable growth in Africa.
Looking at the situation, infrastructure crucial for Africa50 and with the support of its partners, the continent is ready to scale up and spend up investment to fast-track the delivery of transformational projects in Africa were part of the discussion comprehensively dealt with.
Additionally, it was established during the Summit that the private sector has a critical role to play in solving Africa’s greatest challenges, particularly those related to energy, food security, education, health and digital transformation.
Significant progress was made by the Sierra Leonean delegation bridging the gap with stakeholders to support the sustainable financing of the country’s existing infrastructure and bankable projects through the Asset Recycling program of Africa50, an innovative financing arrangement that secures private equity funding.
According to the deputy minister of finance, the focus of the two meetings- Africa50 GSM and US-Africa Business Forum in Marakesh, Morocco was essentially to expand business opportunities and engagement across the continent on a broad range of sectors which include financing, infrastructure, climate, energy security, agricultural transformation, investing in woman, health outcomes and economic integration.
However, seeking workable solutions to business challenges and opportunities placed under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI is in partnership with the African Development Bank, Africa50 and Corporate Council on Africa which was attended by stakeholders, US government delegation, African ministers and decision-makers from the largest US multi-nationals and the African Business Community.
According to King Mohamed V1, Sierra Leone’s presence in the summit is to comprehend, leverage and build new partnerships, explores new opportunities and deepens more collaboration with African partners like African Development Bank, Africa50 and Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).
A closed-door discussion of the Deputy Minister of Finance II, Bockarie Kalokoh with the Chief Executive Officer of Africa50, Alain Ebobisse revealed positive signs that the Bumbuna Hydro would be among the assets likewise the water project in Kissy, Freetown.
Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobisse said the use of private investment or Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is more crucial than ever, as it will allow public funds to be allocated in priority to investments that do not attract much interest from the private sector.
The Summit stands to compliment President Bio’s strides in transforming Sierra Leone in every facets which has been his focus and based on the deliberations between the CEO of Africa50 and Sierra Leonean delegates, light is sure to come within the shortest possible time, as Sierra Leone is now at the apex of consideration.