Africa is becoming more influential, Caroline Kende-Robb says at report launch

Hello, good morning and welcome.

My name is Caroline Kende Robb. I am the Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel.

Thank you all for coming this afternoon to the launch of this year’s Africa Progress Report, titled, Grain, Fish, Money: Financing Africa’s Green and Blue Revolutions.

Africa is attracting ever greater interest all around the world, as the continent is slowly becoming more influential – demographically, politically, and economically.

We think the Africa Progress Panel, which consists of ten distinguished individuals, has an important role to play in discussions around topics that relate to Africa’s present and future.

The Panel is intellectually and politically independent, but shares a belief that we all benefit from an Africa that is prosperous, stable, and fair.

Our Panel Members advocate for policies which move Africa in that direction. They volunteer their time and serve on the Panel in a personal capacity.

I am therefore very pleased to introduce four of our Panel Members who are with us today.

•  Our Chair, Mr. Kofi Annan;
•  Mr. Tidjane Thiam, Chief Executive Officer, Prudential Plc;
•  Mr. Bob Geldof KBE, Musician, Businessman and, Founder and Chair of Band Aid, Live Aid and Live8; and,
Mr. Peter Eigen, Founder of Transparency International and Special Representative of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Mr. Annan and the other Panel Members will shortly highlight our report’s key findings and recommendations as well as launch the report itself.

But I wanted to make a couple of brief remarks on the focus of the Africa Progress Panel’s most recent reports and the specific agenda for change we are promoting.

First, these Africa Progress Reports should be seen as part of a series of interlocking reports. Last year’s report looked at the continent’s oil, gas, and mineral sectors. In 2012, we looked at Jobs, Justice, and Equity.

All our reports have highlighted and celebrated successes across the continent. Africa is a wealthy continent, even if this wealth is not yet benefitting enough of its peoples.

Growth, prosperity, innovation and energy are surging through the continent transforming Africa into a global player from finance through to films through to fashion.

But our reports do not dwell solely on the narrow ‘Africa Rising’ story. The Panel strives to narrate a more balanced story, to shine a light on some of the tougher issues.

This year’s report thus looks at agriculture in the context of inequality, injustice, but also opportunity and immense potential. Potential just waiting to be tapped.

The global media has devoted a heavy amount of space to inequality issues in the past few weeks and months. Inequality is a critical global issue.

The African angle on this is that inequality is a serious drag on poverty reduction, human development and growth. It is preventing the “growth with transformation” that is urgently needed.

As our panel members will elaborate, increased agricultural investment and growth are essential to addressing inequality in Africa.

They are also critical to ensuring the continent is able to play a greater role in international markets, especially to meet increasing food demands.

This report is a huge collaborative effort. We work closely with think tanks, multilateral and regional organizations, businesses and policy makers and civil society in Africa and across the globe. The list is long.

But I want to say a special thanks to all the African think tanks as well as to Kevin Watkins and his team at the Overseas Development Institute, based here in London, and to you all for coming today.

Caroline Kende-Robb served as Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel from September 2011 to January 2017.

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