9 November 2012

Zambia: Africa Must Break Barriers

AFRICA has reasonably moved towards economic prosperity under arduous conditions that have often times held back progress.

The catchword in many fora has been regional integration, which has not been fully realised.

On this burning issue, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda was candid when he featured on CNBC Africa channel 'Political Exchange' programme about Africa's economic landscape.

Mr Chikwanda said as long as barriers persisted, Africa would continue to lag behind in terms of attaining meaningful development.

We agree with the minister because firstly, the continent must ensure that regional integration is significantly entrenched for countries to get out of perennial economic malaise.

Secondly, African leaders should bring to an end conflicts that have been raging particularly in areas endowed with rich natural resources such as minerals.

Of utmost importance is the need to observe democratic values and promote sustainable development in individual countries, within the structures of regional as well as continental organisations.

One salient point worth noting, however, is the fact that Africa has made a robust recovery at a time Europe is wobbling in economic malaise.

The effects of the global economic and financial crisis are fizzling out in Africa while on the other hand some European countries have been struggling to come up with a sustainable economic rescue plan.

Many African economies are growing at between five and seven per cent while some have recorded double-digit growth.

Given the potential threat that the Eurozone crisis poses to the African continent, regional integration should be accelerated to fend off negative effects.

Going forward, African countries should enhance trade with emerging economies such as China, Brazil, and India in the face of decreasing trade volumes with the European continent.

They should harness home-grown ideas in order to sufficiently manage the abundant natural resources, which are mostly exported in raw form.

Countries must continue with infrastructure development in energy, transport and communication, as well as develop human resources to manage the complex affairs of their respective countries.

On the political front, it is imperative for leaders to uphold the rule of law and human rights.

As Mr Chikwanda observed, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and other regional bodies must continue to promote regional integration without duplicating their roles.

Agriculture is one sector that has not been fully exploited yet it has potential to create employment opportunities, reduce poverty, and provide food at household, country, and regional levels.

Natural resources are abundant on the continent, but have not been sustainably utilised and are mostly exported in raw form.

Africa must redeem itself by rising from a continent of conflict and poverty to that of prosperity and sustainable development.

Africa can do it!

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