By Ngozi Onyeakusi — The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has urged African countries to invest in human capital development.

The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, gave the advice at the ongoing African Economic Congress (AEC) in Abuja.

The theme of the maiden congress is: “Building the Africa We Want”.

Represented by Mrs Aisha Ahmad, the bank’s Deputy Governor in charge of Financial System Stability, Emefiele said the continent must use its huge population as an asset.

He said the continent must leverage on this asset of population to accelerate growth and development of the Africa.

“We should use the right health, education, skills as well as employment opportunities to develop the continent.

“The youth can be a critical driver to sustainable and inclusive growth of Africa.

“We must also scale up private investment to complement public effort, especially now that the fiscal space is very limited.

“We must invest in infrastructure such as transport, power, Information and Communication Telcommunication (ICT), expand financial inclusion and have an enabling environment that supports growth to realise these objectives,” the Apex bank chief said.

He stated that Africa was the second fastest growing economy with Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda on the lead.

According to him, by year 2030, it is expected that 50 per cent of Africans will live in cities.

Emefiele disclosed that the collective continental Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was estimated at 2.6 trillion dollars.

He said that in terms of digitalisation, Africa was progressing, pointing out that the continent had 122 million active users of mobile financial services.

The CBN governor added that this figure was more than half of global total of users of mobile financial services.

“We have a huge number of smart phones connection of about 315 million and this is estimated to double by 2022.

“We have people in the world 100 richest persons, and all of these positioned this continent for accelerated development,” Emefiele said.

The CBN governor said that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement signed by 54 African countries was huge and had positioned the continent as the largest free trade area in terms of participating countries.