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Africa’s transformation must thrive on production, export diversification

Africa’s economic transformation into a global giant must be built on diversification in production and export, Dr Kingsley Yeboah Amoako, the Founder of the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) has said.

Dr Amoako, a former Executive Secretary, the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Africa, noted that the continent had over time not transformed as expected though it recorded some economic improvements.

He attributed the situation to the continent’s growth being dependent on primary commodities, with little value addition to its abundant natural and mineral resources and called for change.

“Despite the sense of optimism, Africa has not transformed as expected, because, the more things change, the more things remain the same,” the Economist said.

He advised that governments partnered with the private sector to ensure “great transformation in agric and export. Africa must diversify its export competitively and upgrade technologically.”

That, when done, together with a focus on empowering Africa’s youth, women and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, he said, would lead to improvement in the wellbeing of the people and create sustainable jobs.

Dr Amoako was speaking as a guest for the first in-person Kekima [wisdom] conversation in Accra, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Africa.

The dialogue, which was the third edition, following two online sessions, was on the theme: “Speeding up transformation – which way for Ghana and Africa”, and attended by some youth and influencers for development.

“Seeking sustainable development means, we [Ghana, and for that matter, Africa], must go beyond mere growth and thrive to diversify exports and production,” he said.

He added that: “We must foster competitiveness in our exports and invest more in agricultural innovation to unlock new avenues for prosperity for Africa.”

To achieve the transformation that Ghana and Africa wanted, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, the Director for Regional UNDP’s Bureau for Africa said it was important to harness the combined strength of the State and private sector to conquer business challenges together.

During an intervening session, speakers said it was important to collectively address the challenges that businesses faced on the continent and create a suitable environment for SMEs to grow sustainably.

Data provided by the African Union (AU) indicate that more than 80 per cent of total production, two-thirds of total investment, and three fourths of lending are provided by SMEs within the economy.

The sector also provides jobs for about 90 per cent of the employed working-age population, over 50 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the UN Economic Commission for Africa reports.

It was against this background that the interveners called for increased partnership between State and non-state actors, including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and academia to address finance, business and trade barriers.

On the youthful population of Africa, the speakers said, Africa’s young people offered the hope to transform its economy and must be supported in terms of education, mentoring and coaching and technology.

Source: Ghana Business News