Mr. Gilbert Ondongo, Minister of Finance, Budget, and Public Portfolio for the Republic of Congo; Mr. Augustine Ngafuan, Minister of Finance of Liberia and Syda Bbumba, Minister of Finance of Uganda take questions during the IMF press briefing Webcast.
Question: The World Bank President recently gave a speech in which he envisioned Africa as a global source of growth, and particularly, he envisioned an Africa which would attract industries, industrial activities, with low added value that can come from
Minister Bbumba: Thank you very much. On the issue which has been raised on Africa having the potential to be the source of growth, I think it is there.
Right now, one of the reasons why Africa is the limping member of the globe is because what we produce is expected as raw commodities. We don't add primary value.
If I can talk about the coffee I'm familiar with, whenever we send a kilo of coffee, we give away 300 percent of the profits and the farmer gets less than 50 percent of the profits. So, if we are able to put up primary industries, certainly Africa would become a source of growth to the entire world. And secondly, we've got human resource. It's untapped. With the introduction of universal education, primary and secondary, we have seen that there has been a sleeping potential. It's not yet fully tapped because the African youth lack skills to be employed and whenever investors are coming to our country, in addition to the equipment and the capital, they also import labor into our country, skilled labor, whereas we have got high unemployment in our countries. So, really, if we are able to address those and get funding and continue with the support we are getting from our partners and others yet to come, I think we'll get there.
Question: My question is following up from the Minister of Uganda on regional and Pan-African ability to negotiate trade agreements. One of the biggest problems, I gather, is the bilateral trade agreements with the EU,
Minister Ondongo: We have today on the table the negotiations with the European Union and the framework of the partnership with European Union. It so happens that in Africa and
We told them that this is possible, we are not against it. It is something that the World Trade Organization wants but on condition that this be done progressively because nowadays many of our countries depend on the income to function.
Up until now the EU has not been very attentive, the negotiations are still going on, but the good thing is that we all think the same and it's not good only for Central Africa, this goes for all of Africa because we have a common position to negotiate and with the good training of labor in Africa, we have--the proof is that with the WTO and with Europe we negotiate in a respectable way and we have more and more respect about this in Europe and Africa.
Question: Africa needs a stronger focus on regional trade and growth in Africa. Do you think that this is a broader experience from the crisis and could you give us one or two examples how governments can strengthen this?
Minister Ngafuan: From the earlier question concerning what Africa can do, well, one thing that is a fact is that we have huge resource endowments and we've had those endowments for ages, but it's a contradiction that Africa still remains undeveloped. So, it is a question as to whether