This is Africa has a report which critically looks at the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. This report, Building inclusive Economies – Can Africa bridge the development divide? Offers a different perspective to the Africa Rising narrative. Some of the questions which are addressed in this report which are worth looking at are;
• Is the high GDP growth which African states are experiencing evenly distributed among its population? [If not, what can be done to make sure that this growth is evenly distributed?]
• Will the growth rates we are witnessing today continue for the foreseeable future without structural transformation of the African Economies?
• Is Africa investing in new and most importantly clean energy sources?
• Is the infrastructure development which Africa states we are currently undertaking partly financed by China contributing to household incomes?
• Are African states free to come up with their own development policies free from the western centric development models?
• Is a developmental state better than a democratic state or can a democratic state be a developmental state?
The report addresses these among other pertinent questions. Apart from these policy questions there are success stories as well. Rockefeller Foundation the supporters of this publication have highlighted about their initiative, Digital Jobs for Africa. This initiative which operates in urban centres gives jobs to young people who in turn are able to pay their way to college at the same time acquiring valuable on the job training.
However some of the most incisive components of the report are from Dr. Carlos Lopes – Executive Secretary for the UN Commission for Africa, Elsie Kanza – senior Director for Africa at World Economic Forum, Kanayo F. Nwanze – President of IFAD and Adrienne Klasa – from This is Africa.
Dr. Carlos argues for seizing the missed opportunities for industrialization and in doing so Africa must find the missing link between production of agricultural commodities and value addition. According to him, the continent will be addressing the persistent unemployment currently being experienced. However, to do this the continent also has to get its energy supplies right. In the EAC region we have seen a number of infrastructural and energy supplies projects. Perhaps the leaders of the region are reading from the same script as Dr. Carlos.
What I like about Elsie’s segment is the paradigm shift that she calls upon, that governments need to focus on household level as opposed to the whole economy. It is about time the economist in the both government and private sector addressed the household level gains as opposed to whole economy in terms of measuring growth. In doing so, governments will be able to measure the real transformation that is taking place on the ground. Currently, there are a number of grandiose projects taking place in my country – Kenya and in the region. The benefits of these projects do not come immediately and therefore there is a need for the governments to go for the two throng approach where they seek to transform the economy as a whole and also improve the livelihoods of households.
The President of IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze as is to be expected writes about the power of Agriculture. Many young people rush to the allure of ICT and forget about Agriculture but in Kenya we have seen young people who are merging the two and are really successful. My opinion is the land tenure system is one of main problem for the youths taking up agriculture. In many circumstances, young people do not own land and therefore they cannot invest in sustainable agricultural practices. However, on the grand scale we have seen the government of Kenya doing more irrigation projects in Arid and Semi-Arid areas. This shows that governments are putting their money where their mouth is.
Lastly, Adrienne Klasa writes about the need to redefine policy boundaries and goes ahead to quote Meles Zenawi the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the Africa and in the world and their model is somewhat similar to that of China. Many Economists are in agreement that in some areas Ethiopia seems to be getting some things right and as such it is time perhaps Africa decides what policy decisions to take and not necessarily take the Western development models.
I would encourage everyone to have a look at this report. This report can be accessed here
The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES