IFC Vice President for Africa: Insights from the Africa Financial Industry Summit - AFIS 2023

IFC Vice President for Africa: Insights from the Africa Financial Industry Summit - AFIS 2023

Sergio Pimenta, Vice President for Africa, IFC, attended the Africa Financial Industry Summit (AFIS) in Togo, where over 1000 stakeholders and financial policy experts gathered to discuss strengthening Africa's financial sector for social and economic development. Pimenta highlighted three key takeaways from the summit: Firstly, the importance of economic integration in Africa, particularly through the African Continental Free Trade Area, to enhance trade, efficiency, and reduce business costs. Secondly, the need to strengthen Africa's economic foundations by creating a transparent regulatory environment, supporting skills training, and implementing strategies for sustainable growth to attract domestic and international investors. Lastly, the significance of engaging Africa's youth, especially young women, in shaping the continent's financial system and economic future. Pimenta emphasized the role of organizations like the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in working with governments, development partners, and the private sector to invest in Africa and dispel the 'high risk' narrative.

It is crucial to involve African youth in the discussion and development of the financial system for several fundamental reasons. First, Africa is the youngest continent in the world and its population is expected to double to 2.5 billion by 2050. Given this demographic context, African youth will be the custodians and beneficiaries of the financial and economic decisions being made today. Additionally, small and medium-sized enterprises, which represent approximately 90% of businesses in Africa, are mostly started and run by young people, who are demonstrating growing success in sectors such as fintech, e-commerce, and other technological industries. Therefore, listening to their voices and ideas, as well as supporting them with improved access to financing and skills training, is crucial to enable them to turn their ideas into realities and contribute to the sustainable economic growth of the continent. In summary, involving African youth in the development of the financial system is essential to harness their entrepreneurial potential, foster innovation, and ensure a prosperous future for Africa.

The importance of economic integration in Africa, according to the IFC's Vice President for Africa, lies in several fundamental aspects. Firstly, economic integration strengthens trade by facilitating the exchange of goods and services between African countries, which in turn increases efficiency and reduces operating costs for businesses. In addition, economic integration contributes to the building of social and political ties that can reduce conflicts and promote the development of smaller and fragile states on the continent. Pimenta firmly highlights that economic integration is crucial for Africa, a continent with 54 countries, as it can generate significant benefits in terms of economic growth, stability, and sustainable development.

To Read Pimenta's full blog about his AFIS experience, click here 

To Watch the Africa Financial Industry Summit 2023 - Opening Ceremony & Panel 2023, click here

For more information, visit www.afis.africa