31 October 2012

Africa: Strong Institutions Will Sustain Growth

Photo: Alexis Adele/IRIN
A port in Abidjan.

Senior economists attending the seventh edition of the African Economic Conference currently underway in Kigali have called for strong institutions that will sustain Africa's development.

The high level meet that ends tomorrow, is held under the theme; "Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa in an Age of Global Uncertainty".

According to economic experts that The New Times interviewed yesterday, Africa lacks strong political will to implement the policy frameworks that have already been developed.

"Our leaders should see that development to accelerate our institutions must be strong enough to back it up," said Sylvain Dessy, a Professor of Economics at Canada's Laval University.

"I hope a number of issues affecting the development in Africa will be raised in this forum. If people are motivated enough, they can tackle all these issues affecting development in Africa," said Dessy, a Cameroonian national.

He stated that strong institutions that encourage innovation and protect and respect property rights will take Africa to another level in terms of growth.

Hundreds of participants, including eminent academics, political leaders, representatives of international organisations, chief executives, civil society organisations and the media attended the meeting.

President Paul Kagame while opening the conference on Monday urged African leaders to work towards doing away with counterproductive political influence and concentrate on meeting the development aspirations of their people.

"For Africa to attain economic growth there is need to harness our natural resources and changing demographics -a young, healthy, and skilled population, increase urbanisation as well as availability of modern technology," he said.

President Kagame pointed out that Rwanda's economic growth is a result of ownership of programmes, citizen participation, a high degree of accountability, effective cooperation with development partners and the building of strong institutions.

The continental meeting, organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), looks to explore the continent's prospects for sustainable and inclusive growth in the wake of the global economic crisis.

According to Prof Mthuli Ncube, the Chief Economist and Vice President of AfDB, what will drive the growth in Africa, is dealing with the development gaps that already exists.

"We need to strongly focus on infrastructural developments such as roads, railways, housing and electricity generation, among others, and building strong institutions that will implement all the policies in place, to sustain our economic development," he emphasized.

He noted that promoting domestic entrepreneurs like the private sector, focusing on foreign direct investment without forgetting domestic direct investment, and regional integration among others have a huge impact on Africa's growth.

Africa has grown strongly over the last decade.

Having weathered the economic crisis, the continent's average growth is expected to rebound to 4.8 percent in 2013.

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