African leaders in politics, private sector, arts, media, academia and philanthropies convened in Accra, last week, at a high-level dialogue to explore how the continent can enhance and leverage the use of its own resources, creativity and innovation to effectively finance its development.
The dialogue was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Government of Ghana on the theme: “Africa’s Money for African Development: A Future beyond Aid”.
The high-level dialogue falls in line with UNDP’s strategic offer for Africa, to engage with African leaders and influencers, to drive sustainable development across the continent.
Explaining the importance of the dialogue, the Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director for Africa of UNDP, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa noted that, despite the huge funding gaps (an estimate of up to US$1.2 trillion a year) required to implement the SDGs in Africa, the continent is losing about US$50 billion annually to illicit capital outflows, mainly from trade mis-invoicing.
These, she said, if resolved can address development challenges and debts across the continent.
Ms. Eziakonwa said they chose the theme because optimizing Africa’s resources for African development on one hand, and reducing Africa’s aid dependency on the other hand, will be critical for African countries to achieve the ambitious development goals enshrined in agenda 2063 and 2030.
“African countries must move beyond aid and graduate towards the high and long-term investments required to close the current financing gap of up to US$1.2 trillion per year required for the continent to attain the SDGs”.
She observed that this means that much more is needed beyond the US$60 billion a year received in development assistance from OECD countries. What is called for, she added, is a new perspective that shifts the focus from aid as life support to effectively investing Africa’s resources and wealth to transform development.
“Correctly used, development assistance could be a catalyst for broad-based economic growth and development”, she added.
The UNDP Africa Regional Director said Africa is not the only region to receive development aid, but it is the region with the longest record of a dependent experience and mindset. “This is unhealthy”, she added.
Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa said the dialogue is timely with the advent of the ethos of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. She said a future of Africa beyond aid is not a far-fetched notion. “Since the mid- 1990s, aid has fallen as a share of Gross National Income (GNI) across Africa, from 6.5% in 1994 to 3% in 2017”.
At the same time, she observed, African countries are doing much more to enhance domestic resource mobilization and attract foreign direct investment. As a share of GDP, domestic revenue mobilization has risen steadily from 13.1% in 2000 to 18.2% in 2016.
She said Africa’s wealth of natural resources must become true national assets; benefiting all and not just a few.To this end, she said Africa must focus attention on enhancing natural resource governance, rebalancing related value-chains, using smart technology, and anchoring natural resources use on principles and practice that are environmentally-sound.
Eziakonwa thanked President Akufo-Addo for consistently and assiduously working towards this goal.
Dr. Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rudkidi IV, King of Tooro Kingdom appreciated both President Akufo-Addo and Eziakonwa for organizing the high-level dialogue and said he was pleased new actors beyond the usual players-the governments and political leaders.
He said the youth are the ones to inherit and thus must be put at the forefront to harness their creativity and innovation. And inculcate in them the value and need of breaking donor dependence.
He noted that in Africa, monarchs and cultural leaders play a unifying role among peoples, kingdoms and chiefdoms. Additionally, cultural institutions are also repositories of tradition and continuity. The Tooro King called for a change in mindset and belief that Africa can prosper without aid.
He observed that tourism, agriculture and value addition have tremendous potential to raise money if targeted efforts and investments are made by governments. “Our nations must therefore prioritise putting money in human capital investments particularly education, health and building the necessary skills for people to be engaged in all sectors of the economy.
He completed by saying he would be co-hosting with president Museveni the first World Monarchs summit in 2020 to build consensus on international cooperation and development.
Philanthropist Tony Elumelu, DR. ELENI Gabre-Madhin, Professor Benedict Oramah and Temitope Shoubi were some of the notable personalities present and included 45 African UNDP Country managers.