Opening Session (H.E. Dr Arkebe Oqubay)

Conference opening, introductory remarks

Dr. Alemayehu Seyoum Taffesse, Country Director IGC Ethiopia, opened the proceedings of Africa Growth Forum 2015 by welcoming the H.E. Dr Arkebe Oqubay and conference participants. He set the stage for the keynote address by raising fundamental questions about the industrialisation prospects of Africa as well as non-industrial avenues for achieving economic growth.

H.E. Dr Arkebe Oqubay, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, expanded on the question of whether Africa can industrialise. Starting from a low base, African countries have the potential to grow at a much faster rate relative to their present performance. Given the substantial levels of variation in economic performance across Sub-Saharan Africa, there is significant opportunity for policymakers to learn from each other.

Ethiopia, having managed to achieve double-digit growth, can provide valuable lessons for other African nations. Despite lacking a substantial mineral resource wealth, the country has grown at more than ten percent over the last decade, on the back of agricultural and industrial growth. The credit for this performance goes to smart design and implementation of effective industrial government policies. The Ethiopian experience identifies three key lessons for successful policymaking in Africa:

  • Careful experimentation may be the key to unlocking continued growth.
  • Policy success requires a capable state; good policy design can only drive growth when coupled with proper implementation.
  • Undifferentiated policy prescriptions are inadequate. The continent is made up of diverse states, each demanding a more locally tailored approach to policymaking for achieving economic growth.

Dr. Jonathan Leape emphasised the role of IGC in supporting developing nations in coming up with policies grounded in local realities. IGC’s main goal is to facilitate co-generation of knowledge in partner countries by bringing together academics and policymakers. The purpose is to support the collection of evidence that policymakers can use to decide on the most effective policies for their countries. Dr. Leape outlined the four major areas of work where IGC’s efforts can support evidence-based policymaking and push the frontiers of knowledge. These four areas are creating effective states, efficient firms, liveable cities and reliable energy resources. He invited participants to contribute to the various sessions designed to discuss key questions in these areas during the two days of the conference.

Summary written by Yasir Khan, Country Economist – IGC Pakistan