Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has said the new crop of African leaders are working to construct a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
According to him, this Africa will be one “whose development is people-driven, especially relying on the potential offered by its women and youth”.
Speaking at the Norwegian-African Business Summit Oslo, Norway, Dr. Bawumia noted that it is the ambition of the new progressive leaders on the continent to build a region that is influential in global affairs.
“All three aspirations are linked. The aspiration for a prosperous Africa based on Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development requires that governments do a number of things. Three of them are; we need well-educated citizens and skills revolution underpinned by science, technology and innovation; that our cities and settlements are modernized and people have access to basic amenities; that African economies are structurally transformed and able to finance own development.
“Developing well-educated citizens means building skills, knowledge and creative capabilities of Africa’s youth. For a continent with about 41 percent of its population below the age of 15 years and 60 percent below 25 years, developing the skills and knowledge capacity of Africa’s youth is a matter of urgency; if we are to bring more people into the development and governance process, if we are to maximize the demographic dividend,” Dr. Bawumia noted.
He further urged governments and businesses on the continent to find ways to invest in quality education because it nurtures creativity, and creativity drives technology and innovation.
Below are details of the address by Dr. Bawumia at the Norwegian-African Business Summit
Investing in Africa’s Transition: how, not why?
Key Note Presentation
H.E. Vice President of the Republic of Ghana
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia
On the occasion of
Norwegian-African Business Summit
25th -27th October, 2017
Chairperson of this occasion
Honourable Heads of States (if any)
Leaders of the Nordic-African Business Association
Distinguished Business leaders and participants
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honour for me to be standing here in the footsteps of some distinguished guest speakers in the past, including His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II of the Ashanti Kingdom, former Presidents of Ghana, former Nigeria Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi and the former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki-a true son of Africa and a statesman. This is an impressive list of alumni of speakers whose shoes are too big for me to fill.
- We applaud the formation of the Nordic-African Business Association (NABA) and the platform that it provides for conversation. It is very easy after a couple of such meetings to take for granted how useful such conversations are. These platforms are useful to take stock of our relationships, and to deepen our partnership in development.
- This year’s topic “A Continent in Transition” resonates well with us. I see myself as representative of the new generation of African leaders ready to take on this mantle of transition with all its challenges and opportunities. We see more of the latter because the opportunities are potentially the solutions to the challenges.
- The question for us all is not “why you should invest in this transition?” but how we should do it in ways that yields the most beneficial outcomes for the citizens that we represent, for the little child who otherwise will go hungry, for the marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable who otherwise will continue to suffer the fate of deprivations, and for the many victims of intra and inter-state violent conflicts who cannot lift themselves out of misery and poverty traps. In short, we should not forget the social impact of our investments.
- Ironically for the many of these group of AFRICANS, co-owners of the rich buried treasures of the continent, “Africa Rising” remains nothing more than a dream, a receding mirage.
- During last year’s summit, the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, shared with the audience the great strides in the continent’s human and social development, and the “transformative promise of growth”. He also called attention to the impediments posed by those who resist change because they benefit from the old order of exclusion. And they benefit from the inter and intra-state conflicts.
- For the purpose of this year’s topic, “A Continent in Transition” let me pick up form where my Senior Statesman left off. I will share with you the agenda before us, and then invite you to direct your investments in ways that accelerate this transition, and, most important, in ways that ensure an inclusive and sustainable outcomes.
What is this Transition?
- There have been a number of episodes of African transition:
- First in the 1960s and 1970s when Africa took the strategic decision to pursue continental integration as a strategy for economic development.
- Second was in the 1990s after the end of the cold war when Africa took the decision to tackle the peace and security challenges of the continent, to foster democracy and good governance. The Africa Peer Review Mechanism would become a powerful instrument and guidebook of governance.
- The third transition occurred at the turn of the millennium when in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the formation of the OUA, Africa embarked on a process of stock-taking and mapping out a new long-term vision for the continent under Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want
- Agenda 2063 sets out a common set of aspirations. I will highlight three of them to inform our investment choices.
First, a Prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
Second, An Africa whose development is people-driven, especially relying on the potential offered by its women and youth.
Third, Africa as a strong, resilient and Influential Player and Partner.
- All three aspirations are linked. The aspiration for a prosperous Africa based on Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development requires that governments do a number of things. Three of them are
- We need well-educated citizens and skills revolution underpinned by science, technology and innovation
- That our cities and settlements are modernized and people have access to basic amenities
- That African economies are structurally transformed and able to finance own development.
- Developing well-educated citizens means building skills, knowledge and creative capabilities of Africa’s youth. For a continent with about 41 percent of its population below the age of 15 years and 60 percent below 25 years, developing the skills and knowledge capacity of Africa’s youth is a matter of urgency;
- if we are to bring more people into the development and governance process,
- if we are to maximize the demographic dividend.
Let government and businesses in partnership find ways to invest in quality education because it nurtures creativity, and creativity drives technology and innovation. The quality of future labour force, the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs and problem solvers, rests squarely on the investments we make today in developing the capacity of the youth.
- A second area of investment opportunities comes from the theme of last year’s summit: “Investing in Africa’s Cities”. According to commentators, urbanization and the growth of cities in Africa may well be one of the most important transformation that will take place in this century. As Africa becomes increasingly urbanized, meeting the infrastructure needs of growing cities provides opportunities for investment. Meeting the needs of cities requires the sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructural services that underpin both private sector activities and the well-being of the urban population.
- It is unlikely that we can rely on public investment alone to meet these needs for 2 reasons:
First, pressing resource constraints means that relying on public investments may undermine fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability.
Second, the need to manage public investments for greater efficiency calls for a paradigm shift.
- Public-Private Partnerships are emerging vehicles of investment in urban infrastructure such as power generation, transmission and distribution, urban water systems, housing and transportation. The conventional social expectations that these must be provided by government alone are giving way to innovative public-private partnerships.
- To this end Ghana, for example, is taking steps in developing the framework of PPP. Legislation outlining the governance modalities of PPP is currently underway and is expected to become law by early 2018.
- Third, managing a continent in transition requires structural transformation of our economies. And key to this end is how to use technology to innovate production systems from farm to offices, and to manufacturing. And our transformation handles are in diversifying our economies, strengthening linkages between resource and non-resource sectors, between agriculture and industry, and through intensive use of technology.
- Diversification is needed to build stronger economies. We need to leverage our natural resource commodities through value addition in order to make the most of our commodities, expand our capacity for job creation, and make Africa partner in the global value chains. Well-educated citizens, skillful labour force, and technological innovations are most needed to build Africa’s productive capacity.
- Fourth, agriculture continues to be the most dominant economic activity for most of our active workforce. It continues to be the mainstay of the rural economy. Most farming systems remain traditional, small-scale, rain-fed and extensive with little application of science and technology from seeds to fertilizers to post harvest management and processing. This is not likely to yield the kind of results needed for our transformative agenda.
- For many oil producing African countries, even more threatening to agriculture is the so-called “Dutch Disease”. The onset of petroleum production in Nigeria in the 1960s and in Cameroon in the early 1970s led to the decline of the agricultural sector of these countries, partly as a result of policy neglect, and partly as a result of the shift of labour away from agriculture to the oil producing sector. So despite their vast arable land and despite their potential as food baskets, Cameroon and Nigeria have now become net food importers.
- In fact, the recent decline in Ghana’s agriculture, some observers argue, may be a flashing amber of the Dutch Disease problem. We must re-think agriculture for food security, for rural development, for a push into agro-processing. Addressing all the challenges requires effective state institutions designing and implementing the right policies, and re-thinking the way we invest in agriculture whether the investment is coming from the public sector or from the private sector.
- It is for all these reasons that Ghana is launching A Marshall Plan in Agriculture as the next step of our flagship policy – the Planting for Food and Jobs launched in April 2017. The goal is to build an Integrated Agricultural Industry linkages. Develop a concrete plan to enhance food security, improve farm productivity, strengthen linkages with manufacturing, create jobs and improve rural livelihoods and wealth for Ghanaians.
- With agricultural land constituting nearly 69 percent of land area of Ghana, Ghana has the land resources, human, state and institutional capacity to step up efforts to ensure improved agricultural productivity and sufficient availability of raw materials for industry. The investment opportunities range from inputs supply systems to post harvest management and warehousing, and to agro-processing chain for the emerging urban supermarkets and food exports.
- The fifth dimension of the continent in transition follows directly from the Addis Ababa Tax Initiative launched in 2015 as part of the conversation of financing the SDGs. Africa Agenda 2063 reminds us that the writing is on the wall when it comes to mobilizing resources to finance development.
Now than ever before, Africans face the challenge of building their economies, negotiating their transformation, and financing her own development through domestic resource mobilization, trade and investment.
- As economies become more sophisticated and transactions more complicated, the ability to develop the information base that supports a comprehensive tax system is central to building a strong domestic resource mobilization capacity.
THE GHANA STORY IN THE LAST 10 MONTHS
- Recovery in growth from 3.5% in 2016 to 7.5% in 2017
- Restoration of investor confidence – increased FDI flows
- Restoration of Macroeconomic stability
- Formalizing the economy – Digitization
- National ID
- Digital Addressing System
- Paperless ports
- Registrar General Online registration
- Business environment : Private capital flows
- Macrostability –FISCAL Discipline
- Abolishing nuisance taxes
- Debt sustainability
- Energy – Focus on renewables.
- Transparency in Governance
- Agriculture – Planting for food and jobs –seeds, fertilizer
- Industrializing – Adding vaue to raw materials Agro-processing
- One district one factory
- The Integrated Aluminium Industry – the rationale
- Regional Integration – Removal of internal customs barriers
- Education- human capital –Free SHS
- To sum up, yes Africa is in transition to a “transformative and promise to growth”, to use the words of the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki.
- An integrated and prosperous Africa based on Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development requires a paradigm shift not only in the way we govern, but also in the urgency to develop the capabilities of citizens.
- We must invest in the future.
- Our cities are themselves increasingly becoming frontiers for investments.
- Windows of investment opportunities in agriculture along the entire production value chain, adding value and linking farm to industry remain widely open on the continent, particularly in Ghana.
- Oil and gas discoveries, as well as ship building are also available,
- And so are the opportunities in traditional infrastructure, in energy even if we have to use new and creative public-private partnerships and joint foreign-domestic ventures.