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For Africa, growth is not enough, poverty must be reduced, say leaders


Leading thinkers, policy-makers, government officials, development partners and business leaders across Africa have unanimously agreed that the continent has to move beyond creating growth to accelerating economic transformation as a strategy of reducing poverty in Africa.

The leaders have concluded that growing the economy is not as beneficial to the over 1 billion people in Africa as creating a system of economic governance that widens people’s access to socio-economic opportunities.

This submission was made yesterday at the inaugural African Transformation Forum (ATF), a two-day conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, and organised by African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET).

Speaking at the conference, the Executive Secretary for United Nations Economic Commission for African (ECA), Dr. Carlos Lopes, said Africa’s growth is yet to generate enough jobs for its citizens or reduce poverty.

He blamed this gap on the existence of weak institutions and the uninspiring role of the state actors in Africa.

According to him, the present economic structure in most African states cannot promote inclusive finance and growth that is capable of improving the standard of living of the African huge population.

“Yet, Africa has the potential to satisfy the rapidly increasing global demand for food”, he said.

“Its enormous gas and geothermal discoveries can provide the affordable and clean energy we need; and its young and dynamic workforce can turn the continent into the globe’s newest industrial base…but we have to play it not only well but also smart. We need expertise, knowledge and the ability to convert that information into practical, transformative action.

“Transformation cannot happen by accident, coherent strategy is needed in the implementation of programmers. But transformation requires a collaborative effort, he added.

The World Bank Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, identified the inability of leaders to plan for a long-term period as part of the problems preventing the rapid economic transformation of Africa.

He, however, noted that transformation process is not linear, as it varies from country to country. Thus each country must continue to interrogate its approach to know which is producing right outcome or not.

Speaking on the subject, Executive Director of the Ethiopian Development Research Institute and Chief Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Neway Gebreab, said economic transformation in Africa may remain a dream except the leadership foregrounds the implementation of strategies designed for inclusive growth.

In addition, the Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Emmanuel Nnadozie, said Africa needed to grow critical skill of its workers in order to bring about economic transformation.

He noted that the continent needs to set its priority right and train more scientists and engineers rather than building skills in humanity and art.

Rwandan Minister of Finance, Claver Gatete, said enforcement of the rule of law is key to economic transformation.

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