The Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO) recently held its 5th annual meeting, with a keynote address from the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
In his remark, Dr. Adesina described the impressive economic growth the Africa continent has had over the past decade, including being 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world before the COVID-19 pandemic dealt it a big blow that set it back, but expressed optimism that the African would soon rebound and take its prideful place.
According to him, “The same fundamentals that drove growth are still there. At the core of this must be the growth of the private sector and the deployment of supportive environments for their operations.”
Dr. Adeshina also assured members of the Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO) of the preparedness of his bank to continue to invest to close the infrastructure gap that has limited the capacity of the AEZO to be as vibrant as other zones in Asia and other parts of the world.
He went further to say, “Globally, special economic zones have powered the economic growth of several countries. Their numbers have exploded from less than 200 in the 1980s to 5,000 today. Collectively, they have contributed exports worth $3.5 trillion, roughly 20 per cent of global trade in goods. But in Africa, special economic zones are operating in 38 countries, accounting for an annual trade turnover of $680 million.”
According to him, the special economic zones have not been as successful as other countries in Asia, Europe and other parts of the world as a result of infrastructural challenges, limited access to funding, weaker institutional environment, coordination challenges, etc.
Dr. Adeshina said, “The commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), would positively change the fortunes of the continent’s AEZO, by redirecting their focus to the regional markets in the continent and enable Africa to develop its manufacturing capacity.”
What you should know
- Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO) was created to enhance and sustain relationships between African Economic Zones and Government institutions.
- This union of African Economic Zones is to facilitate cooperation towards achieving strategic objectives and contributing to the socio-economic development of AEZO members.
- Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO) is made up of 79 members representing 41 African countries, and Nigeria is a member country.