Session 1: Opening Session

The IGC in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and the Bank of Uganda organised the first Africa Growth Forum (AGF) in Uganda from 11th to 13th December 2013. This was attended by senior policymakers, researchers and delegates from various IGC partner countries including, senior public officials and Ministers from Uganda.

The opening session was chaired by Her Excellency Honourable Maria Kiwanuka, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda. The Prime Minister of Uganda, His Excellency Honourable Amama Mbabazi delivered the keynote Address and Prof Jonathan Leape, Executive Director of the IGC presented the opening remarks.

In his keynote address the Prime Minister of Uganda stressed that the main objective of the AGF was to discuss ideas for growth. He also stated that despite the global financial crisis that started in 2008/9 that negatively affected the major developed economies, the sub-Saharan African region remained resilient and had one of the fastest average growth rates in the world in the past four years or so. More specifically, regions such as the East African Community and countries like Uganda are experiencing average annual real GDP growth rates above 5%, mainly driven by trade and investment flows. Lastly, he mentioned the need for sub-Saharan African countries to address a wide range of challenges that included high income inequality, high youth unemployment, infrastructure deficits, the shortage of a skilled workforce and low intra-African trade. He concluded by thanking all participants and wishing them fruitful discussions during the forum.

Jonathan Leape, the Executive Director of the IGC, made opening remarks. He reminded participants of the role of IGC, which is to provide demand-driven and evidence-based policy advice to various countries including those from sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, he acknowledged the challenges faced by researchers and policymakers: (i) the existence of pressure to provide high quality advice within a very short period of time, for example, within a matter of hours, a day or a week; and (ii) ensuring a good connection between relevant research findings and real-world policy making. He also presented some of the areas of work of the IGC going forward, namely state effectiveness issues, developing a better understanding of the productivity of firms in Africa, exploring ways of developing efficient cities, and ensuring sustainable access to energy. Finally, he briefly presented the program of the forum and thanked the Ugandan Government for co-hosting.