By Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, Oct. 25, 2022
A United States of America (USA) based Nigerian Professor, Mondy Gold, has emphasised the need to increase agricultural production in order to fuel the transformation process that promotes economic growth in Africa.
Gold, the President of the Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC), said this in his remarks at a hybrid International Conference on Africa’s Economy at Newark, New Jersey with the theme, “Africa’s Economy: The way Forward,’’ organised by U.S.-based Global Patriot Newspapers.
Gold, who was the chairman of the Conference, also harped on the need to have a sound education system to facilitate economic growth, noting that a sustainable economy requires access to quality healthcare, food security, education, and clean water.
“Africa’s education system needs more of everything, including schools, teachers, and funding. Both the young adult literacy rate and the per capita gross national income are the lowest.
“If there is no employment for fresh graduates, how will education change the lives of young people?
“How is considerable economic growth possible when nations like those in West Africa are severely impacted by persistent flooding with unprecedented devastation?’’ he asked.
An example is Nigeria’s current massive floods, which according to him, is primarily caused by human activity, aggravated by poor sub-urban planning techniques and a lack of or inadequate environmental infrastructure.
He said many Nigerians, particularly those from the Niger Delta, had never witnessed this level of devastation of cropland and other sources of livelihood that have been destroyed by this year’s floods.
“Because there are so many potentials, I think it is time for the debate about Africa to actually change from one about deficiencies to one about opportunities.
“In Africa, where mobile device penetration is at its highest point ever, cross-sector economic growth has the greatest potential.
“Africa has also recently come to be seen as a potential leader in agriculture and technology.
“Africa has come a long way over the years but if it is to achieve its overall aim of being a competitive and successful player in the global economy, it still needs to find a way to establish effective, efficient, and high-quality education systems,’’ the don said.
Gold said the different nations in Africa could start to develop themselves if the continent’s leaders were dedicated to fostering economic opportunities and ensuring that all basic needs are met.
“For the first time in decades, a number of Sub-Saharan African countries are exhibiting signs of economic growth as a result of recent reforms and improved economic policies.
“These countries have improved the effectiveness of their economies by addressing imbalances in the national and global financial systems.
“They have recently placed a higher priority on public spending for essentials like education, healthcare, and other fundamental social services,’’ he said.
Gold said in order to establish a more transparent and participatory government, the state and civil society were also working together more and more regardless of their small size.
He said many of these 49 countries might overcome the constraints imposed by their small size, obtain higher economies of scale, and improve their ability to trade internationally as a result of effective regional integration.
In addition to agriculture and education, the don said the way forward for Africa was to address floods, which had impacted on food security and livelihood of people.
He said policymakers must steer clear of past policy blunders (export or import duties or levies), avoid overvalued exchange rates, encourage export volume growth and secure international trade flows.
“The policymakers should also support the development of human capital in the face of skyrocketing food prices, supply limits and climate change.
“They should strengthen economic transformation policies in line with the rising middle class, improved regional economic cooperation, and increased demand for locally produced goods.
“Demand for locally produced goods and services will pave the way for a completely new path of development and fully utilise the region’s resources and population.”
According to him, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, and other medium-sized economies like Ivory Coast and Ghana are all expected to experience faster economic growth in 2023.
He advised that the leaders must promote the largest free trade area in the world and a market with over one billion people, and therefore, real per capita GDP growth rates in these nations must be substantially raised over time.
“In order to fully restore and consolidate macroeconomic stability and hasten Sub-Saharan Africa’s inclusion into the global economy, African countries need to execute effective macroeconomic policies.
“Sub-Saharan African countries should support the development of human capital and finance productive investments on a broad and consistent basis to improve the performance of the region’s economies.’’
Gold further said that Africans must assess the mechanisms and driving forces behind economic transformation, pinpoint the obstacles, and categorize them as either external – like trade terms – or internal in the framework of governance and economic policy.
He said there was currently a second Industrial Revolution in progress in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“For the first time in the last three decades, signs of economic growth are appearing in an increasing number of the countries in the region.
“The trend has not changed when in 2018, six of the ten economies with the fastest growth rates were in Africa.
“Africa is unquestionably a great place to invest due to the enormous unexplored markets and dynamic youth population.
“To transform their economies, Africans do not lack sensible economic measures but there are inherent implementation issues emanating from poor leadership,’’ Gold said.
He concluded that by 2023, the economies of South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Eswatini, and Angola – which together make up almost half of the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa – will be doing better.
“However, it is important to note that there is a need to find solutions that are directly connected to the needs of the individual countries as well as to the continent at large.
“It is also important to reemphasize that traditional practices inherited from colonial regimes won’t work in this generation, as they didn’t work in the past.
“The future of Sub-Saharan Africa must, therefore, be discussed in order for Africans to understand that they are in command of their own development and growth,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Global Patriot Newpapers, Mr. Simon Ibe, the organiser of the Conference, has been in active journalism for over 38 years.
He left Print Journalism as Chairman Editorial Board and General Manager Publications of Champion Newspapers Ltd, Lagos.
He was also, at different times, Group Political Editor, Opinion and Editorial Page Editor and Features Editor of Champion Newspapers. He was also at The Punch, Newbreed Magazine, Statesman and New Nigerian Newspapers at different times.