The continent of Africa is a place of vast opportunities embedded in challenges and poverty.

According to the World Bank, almost half of Africa’s countries have attained middle-income status and even growing. However, the continent is being threatened by fluctuating commodity prices, youth unemployment, competitiveness, lack of infrastructure, underdevelopment and many more.

Below are 7 quotes I feel you should know from some participants at the 2015 World Economic Forum on Africa. Digest and enjoy.

“Infrastructure is a big issue... For example, to sell products in Nigeria, it is cheaper to have them come in from Vietnam now days than to have them come in from Ghana next door. So you have to make these markets function to be very efficient.”
– Paul Polman
CEO of Unilever
"When you look at the challenges and opportunities that Africa faces, it is very clear that these challenges cannot be addressed and resolved by any single entity or by any single organization. What we have realized over the years is that partnerships between government, civil society, and the private sector are critical to addressing the many challenges that we face."
– Nathan Kalumbu
President for Eurasia and Africa group of Coca-Cola Company
“The export of oil, the export of minerals, will for many decades continue to be a critical part for the growth of African economies. The emphasis is on diversification. We have for many years – not just in South Africa but in many parts of the continent – spoken about beneficiation. And I think part of the secret, in relation to beneficiation, is you have got to make it attractive, profitable for the private sector – and it will take off. You may have to look at mechanisms like tax concessions... You will not have to worry about beneficiation if it makes commercial sense.”
– Patrice Motsepe
Founder of African Rainbow Minerals

“I think that a mistake that we make is to assume that informality means illegitimate. These are legitimate activities that people are engaging in. What we have tried to do is just formalise them.”
– Kwesi Amissah-Arthur
Vice-president of Ghana

"What is concerning is that work in the informal sector is characterised by vulnerability, low wages and no rights. So it is not the way that we lift people out of poverty in Africa."
– Winnie Byanyima
Executive director of Oxfam International

“The continent suffers from a severe deficit of infrastructure... It is also true that we have amongst the lowest investment to GDP ratios amongst all the regions, at about 22%, which suggests that there are huge opportunities to execute projects and investments that are developmental in nature, but give rise to returns that adequately remunerate those that are willing to take risk on those projects.”
– Sim Tshabalala
Joint CEO of Standard Bank Group

"I would say the biggest opportunity for Africa on the sustainable business front is to leverage the digital revolution, and to align the digital revolution with this concept of shared-value and better outcomes for consumers and citizens on some of these challenging social governance and environmental issues. Because we are seeing extraordinary disruption and opportunities to reinvent business models, reinvent the way we deliver public services, reinvent so many industries. The real opportunity is to harness that for both commercial gain, but also the greater good."
– Peter Lacy

Global managing director of Accenture Strategy

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