Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf argues that the report will be “of great value to African policy makers as they draw up action plans to transform their economies and ensure that growth is sustained to improve the lives of an increasing number of Africans, consistent with the AU’s transformation vision.
“And by setting a transformation agenda, it will contribute to international discussions on the strategies and priorities for achieving many of Africa’s post-2015 development goals.”
The lack of think-tanks on the continent in the past has persuaded many of the new organisations to focus their attentions exclusively on Africa. However, ACET’s recent report includes a comparison with eight economies in other parts of the developing world that have already transformed their economies: Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
Several decades ago they all exhibited many of the same symptoms that survived much later in sub-Saharan Africa: widespread poverty, low productivity, low technology and limited exports.
Yet all subsequently made substantial progress, to the extent that some are now upper-middle or even high-income countries. Awareness of how successful countries have used the drivers to help them transform can help African countries as they develop their own strategies.
Putting together all of the elements of DEPTH, the ATI shows Mauritius, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, and Gabon as the top seven countries on economic transformation in 2010, taking an average for the figures from 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The least transformed are Benin, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda,
Nigeria, Burundi and Burkina Faso. The report recognises that there is no formula for economic transformation, although there is some agreement on policies and institutions that have been important in driving the transformation of successful countries. Beyond peace and security, these include:
The ATI regards a transforming economy as one which would have an increasing share of the labour force in formal employment as the contribution of modern agriculture, manufacturing, and high-value services to GDP expand, and as entrants to the labour force become more educated.
Ghana is rated poorly because of a steady decline in manufacturing production, export diversification and export competitiveness over the decade that sees it fall seven places in the table. Both it and Nigeria also suffer from their dependence on exporting raw materials – to a very large extent in the case of Nigeria.
Uganda, Mozambique, and Rwanda made the most progress on transformation, each improving its rank by three places or more.
This year’s report calls on governments to implement the following prudent macroeconomic policies to allow transformation to take place:
• Macroeconomic and exchange rate management.
Planning and managing public spending.
• Making public procurement deliver value for money by reducing corruption.
• Administering ports and customs and controlling corruption.
• Streamlining regulation.
• Beefing up statistics.
Ansu summed up: “For the man and woman on the street in Africa, economic transformation really resonates. The average African has always realised that until our economies move from producing and exporting raw materials to producing and exporting manufactures and high-value services, and also until we modernise our agriculture, we will always remain economically weak and dependent.
“ACET aims to reinforce and inform this understanding through our periodic African Transformation Index that compares African countries on progress on economic transformation, and future
African Transformation Reports that shed light on important transformation issues.