Friday, May 31, 2013

Africa: Economic growth is not enough

The Outlook indicated that African countries must tap into their natural resource wealth to accelerate the pace of growth and ensure the process can benefit ordinary Africans.

Africa’s agricultural, mining and energy resources could boost the continent’s economic growth, the continent’s annual Economic Outlook stated, but, Mario Pezzini argues “Growth is not enough”.

The Director at the OECD Development Centre said: “African countries must provide the right conditions for turning natural resources into jobs, optimise their resource revenues through smart taxation and help investors and locals to make the most of linkages.”

Pezzini’s comments followed the release of the African Economic Outlook 2013 in Marrakesh, Morocco on Monday. The report indicated that Africa’s agricultural, mining and energy resources could boost the continent’s economic growth and pave the way for a breakthrough in human development.

The May 27 report, said continent’s economic outlook for 2013 and 2014 is promising, confirming its healthy resilience to internal and external shocks and its role as a growth pole in an ailing global economy. Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 4.8% in 2013 and accelerate further to 5.3% in 2014.

It shows this growth has been accompanied by insufficient poverty reduction, persisting unemployment, increased income inequalities and in some countries, deteriorating levels of health and education.

Time for Africa to choose own development path

Nonetheless, Mthuli Ncube thinks “Now is the time”. The Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), said: “After ten years of improved stability, sound macroeconomic policies and blossoming trade links, growth has made African nations freer than ever to choose their own development paths and implement active policies for economic transformation.”
The AfDB, the OECD Development Centre, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) - the producers of the report agreed.

They said: “Now is the time to step up the tempo of economic transformation, so that African economies become more competitive and create more gainful jobs.” They added that “widening the sources of economic activity is fundamental to meeting this challenge.”

However, the Outlook indicated that African countries must tap into their natural resource wealth to accelerate the pace of growth and ensure the process can benefit ordinary Africans.

Regional integration could open new opportunities for all 

According to the report, four key elements are needed to achieve that objective. It suggests African countries should create the right conditions for such a transformation to take place, including infrastructure, education and the creation of larger and more competitive markets.

“Access to markets is fundamental to structural transformation based on natural resources. Regional integration and better access to the markets of large partners could open new opportunities for all,” said Emmanuel Nnadozie, Director, Macroeconomic Policy Division at ECA.

Pedro Conceição, Chief Economist at UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa said among many other benefits, human development can help drive Africa’s structural transformation by speeding both the rate of innovation and uptake of new technologies.

“But for this to happen, more attention should be paid to improving access to and quality of education and healthcare systems, transforming agriculture and fostering job creation in order to narrow income inequalities,” Conceição said.

Written by Modou S. Joof
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