Sun, 10 Dec 2023

Africa: Looking back to 2022, and ahead to 2023

CNN: Connecting Africa
04 Feb 2023, 03:38 GMT+10

In the latest episode of Connecting Africa, CNN International's Eleni Giokos looks at the potential opportunities and challenges that could be in store for the African continent in the year ahead.

Looking back, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa Vera Songwe sums up Africa's 2022, "If one were to look at Africa last year, one will have three things in mind. The first one is resilience. I think we were looking for more countries to get into debt distress [] The second is the impact of the rising interest rates in the developed world on the continent. [] The third thing that I will say that happened on the continent, which is a positive, is that because there were huge supply chain interruptions across the world, Africa began to look inside itself to see how it could deliver and purchase its own goods."

Songwe also discusses the sectors that will be most important in the coming year, "The first one is energy. How we can get more energy, cleaner energy onto the continent much faster. The second thing that is very and critically important, and one of the things that is stopping intra-Africa trade is just the transport services, more specifically the logistics."

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Another key leader looking ahead to 2023 developments is Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). She tells the programme about her excitement around the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), "I think it's one of the best ideas. It creates a market of 1.4 billion, and counting, people. If we implement it, we could have consumer business consumption and demand that reaches 7 billion by 2035."

Okonjo-Iweala says that while globalization has become a vilified term, she believes that it is still an important tool to help the continent, "I think we need a new type of globalization, I call it re-globalization, that is going to benefit our countries by pulling in all those who were left behind. So, I'm not quite so ready to ditch the idea that we should get our countries involved in global value chains so we can benefit better."

The WTO chief tells Giokos that the ongoing war in Ukraine will have an impact on Africa's 2023, "The year ahead is going to be a very difficult one. We don't know when this war is going to end. And the impact of not having the food from the Black Sea on the international market, that's going to have an impact on many of our countries, because African countries import food from the Black Sea region, and fertilizer, for that matter."

But despite these challenges, Okonjo-Iweala says that success stories should be highlighted, "There are also countries of the continent who are not doing badly. And what we need to do, is look at these opportunities to support the bright lights of the continent and try to make those things work for us."

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One area in focus for 2023 is the logistics sector. Mohammed Akoojee, Group Chief Operating Officer at DP World and CEO of Imperial explains how their business has changed, "We started expanding the business out of South Africa probably about 12 years ago. And today through subcontractors as well as our own operations, we are in around 20 markets in Africa across East Africa, West Africa, and Southern Africa. Our business actually outside South Africa is now bigger than South Africa."

In 2022, Imperial was acquired by global logistics giant DP World. Akoojee discusses how this will positively impact the business, "Imperial has a fantastic Africa footprint and in terms of moving goods into and out of Africa and playing an important role in the supply chain within the domestic markets of the countries we operate. We have got the trucks, the warehousing, the know-how, the distribution capability. But to be a logistics player for multinationals, to be able to offer end-to-end solutions about how we can connect our capabilities in Africa with other global markets is a massive value addition to our service offering."

Looking ahead, Akoojee highlights his area for opportunity in 2023, "Healthcare I believe is a huge opportunity as an industry in Africa. There are many Africans that don't have access to healthcare and one of our biggest drives is to increase that access."

'Connecting Africa' airs this Saturday 4th February at 0730 SAST on CNN International

The show also airs at the following times:

Sunday 5th February at 0600 SAST and 1300 SAST

Monday 6th February at 0030 SAST and 2245 SAST

Tuesday 7th February at 2245 SAST

Saturday 11th February at 0830 SAST

Sunday 12th February at 0430 SAST and 2000 SAST

Monday 13th February at 0600 SAST

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