Friday, October 28, 2016

Advancing Africa’s Prospects for Inclusive Growth
October 28, 2016
David Makhura Correspondent
Zimbabwe Herald

There is no better time to discuss Africa’s prospects than now — the major economies of the world are going through turmoil and grave uncertainty. Africa is the cradle of humanity and human civilisation.I am mentioning this because any conversation about the future prospects of our continent will fall short if it fails to mention Africa’s unique role in the evolution of society, the origins and development of humanity.

In this regard, we recall the enormous contribution of ancient African kingdoms to the development of knowledge, science, mathematics, commerce, astronomy, architecture and religions — all of which shaped the evolution of humanity.

Speaking of Africa’s unique role and place in the origins and the evolution of society as well as the development of humanity, former South African President, Thabo Mbeki had the following to say:

“One will make bold to say that those of us interested in the history of the evolution of the Earth, have to look at the history of Africa. “If we wish to examine the history and the genesis of life, that evidence points to the history of Africa. “And as it is now well established, if we want to look closely into the history of the beginnings and evolution of humanity, that history is also in Africa.

“Of course, all these have been corroborated by the rich and unique African fossil evidence. Indeed, nowhere on Earth is there a concentration of fossil records that reveal so much about the Earth, the evolution of life and of humanity, than those found on the vast expanse of the African landscape, especially in the south and east of the continent.”

Indeed Africa has bequeathed to humanity her origins, her civilisation and hence her development! Africa must bequeath to economics and business the spirit of Ubuntu, which is at the centre of the new global call for inclusive growth and shared prosperity.

Without shared prosperity, there can be no sustainability. Ladies and Gentlemen, over the past decade, the continent of Africa has cemented its place as one of the world’s key and leading emerging markets.

There is no doubt that ours is a continent of growth — a continent of hope, a continent on the rise. The Africa Rising narrative emerged from concrete evidence that our continent is making tremendous progress.

Even as the global economy goes through turmoil, Africa’s growth is set to continue strongly in the coming years, making Africa the continent of the future and giving credence to the understanding that this is Africa’s century.

According to the 15th edition of the African Economic Outlook Report 2016; “Africa’s economic growth remained resilient in 2015 amid a weak global economy, lower commodity prices and adverse weather conditions in some parts of the continent.

“Real GDP grew by an average of 3,6 percent in 2015, higher than the global average growth of 3,1 percent and more than double that of the euro area.

“At this growth rate, Africa remained the second fastest growing economy in the world (after emerging Asia), and several African countries were among the world’s fastest growing countries.”

The report forecasts that Africa’s economic growth will gradually pick up during 2016/ 17, predicated on a recovery in the world economy and a gradual rise in commodity prices. While all of this is worthy of acknowledging and even celebrating, we must resist the temptation to romanticise our continent’s prospects because major challenges still have to be overcome.

To address Africa’s challenges, we need to push ahead with interventions in areas such as building a democratic culture; ethical leadership that prioritises citizens, sound and enduring institutions that outlive specific leadership personalities and withstand leadership transitions; building infrastructure; promoting economic integration, driving industrialisation and innovation; greater levels of intra-Africa trade and ensuring that growth is inclusive and shared among all citizens of the continent.

This is the dream of the kind of African continent, whose prospects were eloquently articulated by Pixley ka Isaka Seme, in 1906, when he said:

“The brighter day is rising upon Africa. Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinia and her Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities. Her Congo and her Gambia whitened with commerce, her crowded cities sending forth the hum of business, and all her sons employed in advancing the victories of peace greater and more abiding than the spoils of war. Yes, the regeneration of Africa belongs to this new and powerful period!”

Ultimately, our goal must be to build the kind of Africa whose chains are dissolved; whose desert planes are red with harvest; whose Congo and Gambia are whitened with commerce; whose crowded cities send forth the hum of business — an Africa where all her sons and daughters are employed in advancing the victories of peace, that are greater and more abiding than the spoils of war.

The African Union’s Agenda 2063, which is about a transformed Africa, with clean and democratic governance, an inclusive and growing economy as well as human development, is our loadstar to the Africa we desire; the Africa of Pixley ka Isaka Seme.

Specifically, we must address in a comprehensive manner issues related to the integration of our economies and markets, investment in Africa’s citizens who are our greatest assets, boosting intra-Africa trade and investment, strengthening infrastructure development, encouraging innovation as well as expanding access to funding, including alternative funding, as well as access to regional markets.

In particular, our deliberations must help us leverage off the current reality that Africa is the centre of gravity in terms of future prospects of the entire global economy; that we have abundant natural resources; that we have a younger population; that our citizens are energised and entrepreneurial, always searching for opportunities and that ours is potentially a market of more than one billion people.

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