The continent of Africa is endowed with natural mineral resources, notable among them are gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese, Phosphate, Platinum, Cobalt etc. In the abundance of the natural resources, the continent is bedeviled with poverty, hunger and underdevelopment.
In fact, it defies logic and common sense that a continent blessed with so much resource is struggling to take care of its citizens. Interestingly, the fact is that, Africa’s underdevelopment is by design and for us to develop, we must understand that design, deconstruct the design and strategically and speedily re-think new economic model capable of stimulating our development agenda.
This calls for strong, visionary, dedicated and selfless leadership, more importantly political leadership. We, the citizens have equal role to play by making sure we elect the right people into public office. We must not support political party because we like it, instead, we must support political parties because it has the right people, with the right mindsets to drive the development agenda of the continent.
The leadership of the Africa Union must reflect on why its peers are interested in the continent. The answer, indeed, is obvious. It is due to its rich natural resources and its growing young population. They wanted the continent to be their market base, where all their final outputs could be sold.
It is against this background that, in recent years, there is so much focus on international summits between the advanced economies and Africa. Thus, China-Africa Summit, India-Africa Summit, Russia-Africa Summit, Singapore-Africa Summit and Turkey-Africa Summit.
I am not in any way suggesting bilateral and multilateral partnerships are not necessary. My considered view, therefore, is that Africa must look within and as a matter of urgency start adding value to its rich natural resources, create its own competitive markets and equally so must develop its human capital capable of driving technology and innovation, thereby addressing the challenges confronting us.
I strongly believe that, the only way for Africa to rise up to the occasion is to intensify economic integration. The Africa Continental Free Trade Area is a critical vehicle to propel the economic integration agenda. In my candid opinion, the process is quite slow, and therefore, there is the need to speedily ignite its implementation process. I only trust that the invisible hands of global forces will not cripple the legs of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
It is refreshing to state that the COVID-19 pandemic really had devastating impacts on the global economy as well as African economies. However, it equally offers the continent an opportunity to re-think its economic model in areas of investments, finance, health and education. The leadership of the Africa Union, by now, should be thinking about how to quickly mobilize resources into the development of a vaccine.
My respectful view is that, it will be difficult for a single economy to pursue that agenda, although possible. Pursuing it as a continental project will aid in raising funds as quickly as possible. There is the need also a competitive edge in respect of value addition of mineral resources. In fact, we need to move from a primary economy to industrialized economy thereby creating shared-growth. This can be achieved by promoting industrial-based and value addition economy.
The writer is a Development Economist and Chartered Business Consultant. Daniel is the President at the chartered Institute of Financial & Investment Analysts, Chief Economist at the Policy Initiative for Economic Development. He also the Director of Research and Analysis, B&FT. He can be reached on email: [email protected]
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