The Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD), Mr Senyo Hosi, has observed that African countries have failed to translate the recent strong growth in Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in their economies into direct prosperity to improve the lives of their people.
In spite of outperforming the rest of the world in GDP growth, he said improvement in life expectancy had slowed while inequality and joblessness were worsening in the continent.
He blamed the disconnect in the booming economic growth and slow improvement in the lives of the citizens on the inability of the continent to add value to its exports.
He made the observations at the Africa Development and Investment Convention (ADIC) 2018 when he spoke on the topic “Africa Rising – Lacing politics, industry and true partnership for sustainable development.”
Need for action
He said the disconnect led to the conclusion that “Africa is rising but not with its own. It is rising geographically but not with its people,” he said.
He, however, warned that the Africa rising narrative, which had also been referred to the African Renaissance or African Lions, will not be sustainable if it is without its people.
“It will only be a rise in absentia,” added.
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On how the continent could reverse the trend, Mr Hosi said, “Africa must industrialise by optimising the value of its natural resources and agrarian output.”
“It must structurally transform its economies from a primitive primary production model to a secondary and tertiary production model,” he said.
He said it was disturbing that “Africa continues to export crude and import petroleum products.”
“It cannot continue to export copper and import electrical cables, export cotton and import used clothing, export coffee and import Starbucks.
It is unacceptable that Africa outpaces the world in arable land per capita and yet it is food insecure,” he said
He also made a case for the continent to industrialise, explaining that the current primary level-based production economies of Africa made the continent highly vulnerable to commodity price volatilities.
According to him, while cocoa beans may experience volatility and weakness in prices, the prices of Cadbury and Lindt chocolates are relatively stable.
This, he said, affirmed the economic view that exports of manufactured products are a lot less volatile and sensitive to long-term price deterioration, hence the need for Africa to industrialise.
“Sadly, countries such as Switzerland with no production of cocoa are rather known to produce the best chocolates in the world with raw materials from poor farmers in places such as Asankragua (in the Western Region) in Ghana.
In simple terms, Africa must industrialise to survive in tomorrow’s world and build a meaningful environment for its growing youth,” he said.
He further advised African governments to ensure that the world’s industries “expand or relocate closer to raw materials and the growing African demand.
That, he said will ensure that the continent industrialises and benefits more from its own resources.
He was confident that industrialising Africa will address Africa’s employment concerns and transform its high economic growth rates into increased domestic revenue mobilisation for development.
He also disagreed concerns that a successful industrialisation of Africa industries will lead to the fall of developed economies.
“This, view in my, is absolutely flawed. The rise of the Asian dragon did not crush the European Union or the North American economies.
“In any case whose capital will be used to fund Africa’s industrialisation,” he asked.
He said Africa would still need the technology and capital equipment of the western world to industrialise and that will create a mutual benefit for both sides. — GB