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African Transformation Forum 2018 Update

The forum gathered heads of states, experts and organizations to share perspectives on how best to accelerate Africa’s emergence in global economy.
Alaa A. Rahman | 31.07.2018
© Alaa A. Rahman
Last June, I had the honor to represent the Egyptian Government on behalf of his Excellency the Minister of Finance, at the 2nd African Transformation Forum (ATF) in the beautiful Accra City in Ghana as a panelist during the session on Resource Mobilization and Management.

The African Transformation Forum was held in June 2018 over two days (20-21) in the city of Accra, Ghana where African policymakers, heads of states of different African countries, private sector entrepreneurs and development partners such as the European Union, World Bank and IMF representatives shared perspectives on how best to accelerate Africa’s emergence in the global economy. From accelerating growth to creating jobs and boosting investments, the forum discussed several key topics aiming at implementing transformational policies to strengthen Africa’s economic power.
The Forum discussed 5 topics in parallel breakout sessions:
1) Resource Mobilization and Management: Where panelists discussed enhancing domestic resource mobilization and improving fiscal resource and aid management, while securing reliable and transparent development financing.

2) Agriculture: Considered to be the most important session, experts and policymakers discussed supporting transformation in agriculture for economy-wide impacts. Topics discussed ranged from land tenure, mechanization and commercialization.

3) Youth Employment and Skills: Since youth are Africa’s true resource for development, this session discussed improving education and skills training in the continent, while creating long term employment for a rapidly growing young population. It will be the center piece of the next forum, planned to be held in two years’ time.

4) Extractives: The idea behind this session is to promote local content and value addition strategies while leveraging the worth of extractive resources. Panelists and discussants talked about how best to encourage investors to expand employment and investment in local supply chains.

5) Light Manufacturing: This session aimed at generating ideas to support development that favor Africa’s ability to tap into the world’s manufacturing markets, as well as rapidly accelerate industrialization and boost production overall.

The panelists discussed several topics among which illicit financial outflows from the continent (worth $400 billion every year in the form of tax evasion, corruption and mismanagement of resources), efforts that need to be made to better revenue mobilization and management and country experiences as well as experts’ view on how to promote a healthier environment for investors through efficient, simplified tax regimes.
During the panel, I discussed the Egyptian government’s efforts made over the course of the last two years in mobilizing resources domestically in terms of revenues, the VAT implementation system and its development, how the government was able to broaden the tax base by including most services under the VAT umbrella, the efforts conducted by the tax authority to better manage its various taxes (especially the real estate tax that saw an increase of almost 100% in FY16/17 thanks to better administration and automation of the tax), the administration overhaul that the tax authority will witness over the next 5 years and the government’s plan to increase its revenues as a whole – not through increasing and/or applying new tax rates – but through better management, broadening tax base and automating the various taxes online.
As far as the outcome across all the sessions, the idea behind the forum was to take the ideas presented during the forum and work on them, apply them in the representatives’ respective countries. In two years’ time, the different representatives from governments and private sector will convene again to discuss the efforts conducted in light of the previous forum and how best to proceed forward with new ideas and policies to enhance and ensure Africa’s economic transformation into a global economic force.
It’s refreshing to see Africa take charge of its destiny on the path to development, with the presence of motivated, fresh and young minds at the helm of this initiative. You can read more about the forum and the initiatives discussed via this link.