The New Times (Kigali)

2 November 2012

Africa: How Africa Can Sustain Growth

African governments should invest in infrastructure development and education to sustain growth, Economic experts attending the seventh edition of the African Economic Conference that ends today in Kigali have advised.

The high level event that kicked off on Tuesday was held under the theme; "Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Africa in an Age of Global Uncertainty".

In separate interviews with The New Times yesterday, the economists concurred that vocational training was the way to go.

"African countries should promote quality education that will enable our children be job creators instead of job seekers, in our countries, higher institutions of learning focus more on theoretical knowledge than practical skills. Africa is not competitive because the education is very low," said Professor Ouledi Ahmed, Coordinator of research Comoros Islands University.

Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, South African Deputy Minister in Charge of economic development said: "Much emphasis should be put on industrial policy development by supporting enterprise development. If you want to see sustainable development as a country, you need to strongly support export agencies by simplifying their trading processes, because export agencies bring foreign exchange earnings to the country."

The other thing, he added, is investing heavily in infrastructure development such as ICT, roads, energy, and water services so that people access them.

"In South Africa we are trying to assist the youth to be job creators, teaching them vocational training skills. These are some of the things that need to be looked into."

Professor Manasseh Nshuti, Senior Economic Advisor Office of the President said: "African leaders should involve the population in the decision making process most especially the beneficiaries. The continent faces a challenge, where the policies are passed by the politicians and other top officials without consulting people at the grassroots."

According to Nshuti, inclusive and sustainable development will only be achieved once everybody takes part in the decision making process.

"For instance in Rwanda before every policy is passed, Rwandans right from the grassroots are consulted to add their inputs through committee advisory services, by asking them what can benefit them and sustain their living."

"Adopting home grown solutions is also crucial in fostering sustainable development in Africa.

Zodawa F. Mabuza, Chief Executive Officer the Federation of Employers and Chamber of Commerce, Swaziland, observed that trade facilitation is vital as well as elimination of bureaucracy involved in trading processes.

"African leaders must ensure that bribery and other forms of corruption involved in transportation during trade are dealt with, to allow smooth flow of trade," Mabuza said.

Prof. Pa Lamin Beyai, Economic Advisor United Nations Development Programme noted: " In Africa we rely a lot on growth and that has been the benchmark for economic development, but now, what we need to do, is to translate growth into employment. In most African countries, you find unemployment at its peak. How do we address the unemployment challenge.....? It's a matter of adding value to the commodities produced in Africa and encourage the growth of the private sector to provide job opportunities to the people."

Beyai from Gambia stressed the need to process value to raw materials that we produce, saying "instead of exporting our raw materials; we need to translate them into finished products and export them."

Michael Roberto Kenyi, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in South Sudan noted that Africa is blessed with natural resources, but the challenge is that they are less exploited by Africans.

"We need to know that Africa is rich and we should use our riches to develop our continent. We should also process the raw materials we produce into finished products," he said.

He advised governments to invest in research for development and also promotion of public-private partnership.

"In South Sudan, we are keeping our grown ideas from our indigenous chemical knowledge and also borrowing scientific knowledge from our friendly countries in the region, so that we learn from them to improve the livelihood of our people."

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