Makutano Forum 2023 : an Africa “without borders” is taking shape from Abidjan

By Issiaka N’GUESSAN

“Meeting” (Makutano, in Swahili language, Editor’s note) to talk to each other and reflect on the challenges of African development, was once again at the heart of the 9th edition of this Forum designed by Nicole Sulu . A high-level meeting which brought actors from the continent’s private sector into direct contact with public policy decision-makers. It was, nothing more, nothing less, about putting on the table these pitfalls which are hampering the continent’s growth in a fairly dynamic context, marked in particular by the implementation of the Zlecaf.

The ZLECAF in people’s minds

Today, whether in the private or public sectors, we are unanimous in recognizing that for the advantages of the Zlecaf to benefit private companies, the freedom of movement of people and goods must be a reality. This is also the opinion of Jean Louis Billon, Ivorian Sifca Group. For him, having a free trade zone between African States, having common infrastructures is the only condition for having very dynamic inter-African trade.

Added to this challenge is that of infrastructure and very aggressive communication which would allow populations and public decision-makers to be better informed of community provisions.

“Resolving the issue of infrastructure and interconnection”

Today, even if the mayonnaise has not completely taken hold, initiatives are starting to experience some success, but they still remain weak. This is why, moreover, the Prime Minister of the DRC, Jean Michel Samano Koundé on the importance for all African countries, of undertaking an accelerated march towards sustainable development to integrate and transform the economic landscape of the continent . To do this, he considers it necessary to “resolve the problem of infrastructure and interconnection, work for the diversification [of] economies for industrialization and the development of value chains. The future of the world is being played out here in Africa because of its potential, its youth and the dynamism of its population,” he said.

Moreover, in this dynamic of integration, Ivory Coast and the DRC have decided to take concrete action. For example, now their nationals no longer need a visa to travel between the two countries.

DRC-Ivory Coast, pilot axis of the Zlecaf?

The “conversation room” organized by Nicole Sulu in Ivory Coast is quite symbolic of what integration should be. “Côte d’Ivoire inspires economic Africa,” she said.

For example, today, the DRC has taken inspiration from Ivory Coast to digitize its Public Treasury. Ivory Coast has its agriculture which represents 22% of GDP and employs 40% of the active population. Conversely, in the DRC, agriculture represents 20% of national wealth and employs one in two people. The ambition of Côte d’Ivoire to transform its cocoa 100% by 2030… so much expertise and experience that cooperation between the two countries should make it possible to take advantage of.

Boost exchanges

Already estimated at nearly 7.2 billion FCFA in 2022, compared to 6 billion FCFA in 2021, trade between the two countries is however far from having exploited the potential. Moreover, Patrick Achi, Ivorian Prime Minister, is convinced that it is possible to do better.

“To create real actors in the private sector, strong in meeting the needs of the national market, but also able to respond to the continental market and beyond, all countries in the world have seen their public actors walk hand in hand to the alongside their private sectors to help them, support them, push them in difficult times, as well as in the best,” he called.

To achieve this, however, we must first consider taking up the financing challenge. If we are to believe Guillaume Liby, banker and economist at William Khamey Advisors, specializing in macroeconomic and financial analysis, “the rate of credit to the economy is very low on average between 20 to 40% compared to more than 100 % in industrialized countries. Administrative obstacles are numerous. »

Continuing, Mr. Liby maintains that “markets are narrow and logistical capacities between countries are very inefficient”, estimating that “monetary disparities result in high transaction costs that discourage trade between countries. »

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