The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) is an economic policy institute that seeks to support Africa’s long term growth through transformation. Report by Neil Ford.
Its vision is that by 2025 “all African countries will drive their own growth and transformation agendas, led by the private sector and supported by capable states with good policies and strong institutions”.
It was set up in the Ghanaian capital Accra in 2009 and has worked with local think-tanks since 2010 to assess the economic prospects for 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
ACET chief economist Yaw Ansu says: “We in ACET saw that growth in Africa had so far come from macroeconomic reforms, better business environments, and higher commodity prices. Much as we welcomed this, we are also of the view that true economic transformation requires much more. While pursuing further improvements in macroeconomic management and in the business environment, countries have to diversify their production and exports.”
He continues: “They have to become more competitive on international markets. They have to increase the productivity of all resource inputs, especially labour. And they have to upgrade the technologies they use in production.
“Only by transforming can countries ensure that growth improves human wellbeing by providing more productive jobs and higher incomes, and that everyone benefits from shared prosperity. Happily, recently we have seen that the momentum has been building for transformation as the new paradigm for Africa’s development.”
ACET’s 2014 African Transformation Report: Growth with Depth, looks at transformation as a broad framework for growth and development and identifies best practices from Africa and beyond.
The report draws together the conclusions of ACET’s own three-year research programme of country, sector and thematic studies to offer analyses and lessons that can be tailored to each country’s resources, constraints and opportunities. It has also organised a workshop with development specialists from Latin America and Asia to see what can be learned from the experience of other developing countries.
As the title of the report suggests, ACET argues that growth is not enough if African economies are to be transformed; rather, growth needs to be accompanied by depth. The document states: “They need to diversify their production, make their exports competitive, increase the productivity of farms, firms, and government offices; and upgrade the technology they use throughout the economy: all to improve human wellbeing.”
It uses Depth as an acronym to define this mission statement: Diversification, Export competitiveness, Productivity increases, Technological upgrading and improved Human wellbeing.
The Center has also launched its new African Transformation Index (ATI), which assesses the performance of countries on the five depth attributes of transformation to produce an overall index figure, so that countries can be easily compared with each other.
This year’s report includes 21 countries but ACET intends to expand its geographical reach over the next few years, as well as refining the index. As with the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, this flexible approach to methodology should allow the index to become ever more comprehensive and accurate.