Last month, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s African Development Forum in Marrakech brought together policy makers, researchers and the private sector to discuss Africa’s transition to new, more equitable and sustainable forms of development. Peter Guest reports.
Africa can no longer rely on its traditional aid partners to drive structural economic transformation, according to the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Carlos Lopes. Instead, he says, the continent’s governments need to work individually and collectively to build new partnerships with one another and with other emerging global powers; and to stimulate new domestic resources for development.
“This is a time when the continent, thanks to its growth and its new narratives, etc, has the opportunity to join the other regions of the world that have ‘liberated’ themselves from [official development assistance],” Lopes says.
This October, ECA hosted the African Development Forum (ADF) in Marrakech, bringing together policy makers, researchers and the private sector to discuss the transition into newer, more equitable and sustainable forms of development.
“I think Africans should look for less of the type of assistance that they had in the past, and more strategic type of interventions, such as the ones that will liberate their own possibilities of funding,” Lopes says.
African countries need to invest in human capital and build conditions for both the public and the private sector to invest in job creation if they are to overcome widening inequality and unemployment, according to the prime minister of Cabo Verde, José Maria Neves, speaking on the sidelines of the ADF.
“First of all, I think that we need to build up a vision and a strategy for development,” Neves says, “And then create the conditions for both the public and the private sectors to be able to invest in the main sectors for development in the country, the sectors that should create the dynamics for growth, investment and job creation.”
Almost all African economies have posted high annual gross domestic product growth rates since the turn of the Millennium, and the International Monetary Fund has predicted that the trend will continue, with growth rates due to exceed 5% in 2014 and approach 6% in 2015. However, economic inequality is also high and rising in many countries, and leaders are under pressure to move beyond simple expansion and onto creating equitable, broader-based economic growth. There are some well-known mechanisms for promoting this kind of growth according to Neves.
“I think there are some major pillars that should be taken into consideration,” he says. “First of all, strong modernisation of infrastructure, a strong investment in human capital and the consolidation of institutions, the development of the private sector, and creating conditions for the development of businesses that can create jobs. And then bring about mechanisms for both the public and private sector to participate in this process.”
It is through creating these kinds of structures and demonstrating broad-based economic growth that African nations can win international credibility and support, Neves says.