'Strong sectors needed to address devt challenges'

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Terkper, has stressed the need for a public sector in Africa that is more manageable, efficient, empowered, professional and committed to the cause of capacity building on the continent.

“We also need a private sector that is innovative, growth oriented and competitive as well as a civil society that is constructive, responsive and capable of collaborating with both the public and private sectors,” he added.

According to Mr Terkper, these are necessary to deal with developmental challenges confronting the continent in the 21st Century.

He said the challenges “are substantial and include inadequacy of institutional capacity, weak governance of our natural resource sector, renewable, as well as extractive, and the absence of systematic and institutional mechanism for peer learning and experience among our countries.”

The finance minister made the call at the launch of the 2013 Africa Capacity Indicators Report dubbed “Capacity Development for Natural Resource Management in Africa” and authored by the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF).

The ACBF is the premier capacity institution in Africa, which is the outcome of African governments, including Ghana and the international donor community, and aimed at building sustainable human and institutional capacity for sustainable growth, poverty reduction and good governance.

Mr Terkper added that some work had been done by all countries on the continent in that direction but stated that much as “we are improving, we still have a long way to go.”

He also recognised that for the private and public sector, as well as the civil societies, to succeed in the various endeavours, “we need a political system that is responsive to its citizens—premised on good governance—to give a social and geo-economic environment that is enabling and inclusive of all players to be able to make the required impact.”

He regretted that African communities had fallen at the mercy of large international companies which were seriously exploiting their natural resources yet the people had often been marginalised, deprived and were vulnerable in spite of their wealth.

The finance minister said the phenomenon had given rise to the debate about the resource curse and the issue about Ghana’s oil and gas find had also come as a source of concern.

However, he noted that in Ghana the government had passed laws meant to protect the proceeds from the find while management structures had been put in place to ensure that the oil and gas resources were protected to avoid a situation many others had suffered.

Mr Terkper was also hopeful that other African countries would master the courage to build capacity to efficiently manage its natural resources to enable their citizenry to derive the full benefits.

The President of the National House of Chiefs, Professor John S. Nabila, who is also the Pugansoa Naa, said Africa “undoubtedly needs to seriously seek ways to address and/or negotiate its emerging challenges.”

He said the continent had to demonstrate its democratic credentials embrace transformational leaders and good governance as core values.

“Africa must be more than just a commodity producer and recipient of finalised goods on an almost predictable basis and to achieve this capacity needs to be enhanced; knowledge assets harnessed and shared more strategically while more creative solutions are encouraged,” he said.

Professor Nabila who is also a Member of the Council of State, applauded the ACBF for its comprehensive work in putting together the report, “particularly this report on capacity indicators, which is complementary to private sector, tapping into networks of skills and knowledge, providing sustainable support to capacity development, highlighting the role of science and technology and looking beyond the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to build capacities for confronting emerging challenges.”

Dr Frannie Leautier, the Executive Secretary of ACBF, for her part, pledged the commitment of the foundation to seek solutions through research to the continent’s challenges.

She expressed the hope that the recommendations of the report would be followed by the various countries, as they sought ways to develop their capacities to better manage their natural resources.
Story: Charles Benoni Okine