Participants at the ongoing 47th annual general meeting (AGM) of the African Development Bank in Arusha, Tanzania, said that the demands of globalisation has made it imperative for Africans to make their economies competitive. The stakeholders, drawn from across the continent, emerging economies and global financial institutions, submitted that it was defeatist for Africans to blame others for the failure of their economies.
Mr Nkosana Moyo, Chairman at one of the seminars on emerging issues in African economies, described as disheartening usual conclusions that Africans don’t understand themselves, inspite of the accepted notion “we know what we want”. Moyo, a former Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the AfDB, said African countries needed right policies that would make it more productive and competitive.
“We cannot depend on foreign investors to come in with everything. Investors always want to take an upper hand and we end up losing. Governments should concentrate on making the right policies to protect national and African interests, otherwise outsiders will go away with our wealth,” Moyo said. Ali Mufuruki, said African governments could not justify the huge budget spent on policy formulation in the face of the sliding character of the continent’s economies.
Mufuruki, Executive Chairman of Infotech Investment Group in Tanzania, said Africans should re-evaluate their approach to development programmes that would complement foreign investments. On current trends in global trade, Mufuruki asked: “Are we ready to harvest the rising commodity prices or are we waiting for another lost opportunity?
“All policies we make must be based on empirical ground and not on perceptions by other people,” Mufuruki said, adding: “Africans haven’t prepared themselves for what is happening in the global economy.” Terence Sibiya, Director and Head of Global Market at the Standard Bank of South Africa, said it was disappointing for primary commodities to still dominate Africans exports.
“We have to break this huge cycle and come up with innovative instruments to safeguard Africa’s interests if we are to eliminate poverty in this continent,” Sibiya said. Mr Njuguna Ndungu of Central Bank of Kenya, also called for the creation of strong institutions to lead the continent out of poverty and break Africa’s over dependence on aid.
“Emerging issues have been with us for a very long time. We need to roll out public investment in an innovative way and develop intra-African trade. Poverty is a product of institutional failure. Have we changed the development paradigm? Ndungu asked. The AfDB organised the session to provide an overview of some of the significant forces that could shape Africa’s future.