A paradigm shift will help keep up tempo of Africa’s growth

Saturday December 27 2014

In the past decade, Africa’s economy has grown by over 5 per cent annually. This is despite a slowdown in many of its export markets. But still, the African Development Bank is projecting a growth of 6.4 per cent.

Foreign investors are flocking to African markets and, even more important, we have seen intra-African investment activity, led by companies such as South Africa’s Mass Mart and Nigeria’s Dangote Group. But, alongside this fairy-tale are fears about how sustainable this growth is.

Africa requires structural transformation and a shift from traditional farming methods to higher productivity agriculture, manufacturing and services. These efforts must be backed by effective public institutions to the growth more resilient and long-term.

Industrialisation, if properly thought out, is a big part of that structural transformation. In this case, manufacturing should be about value addition.

Agriculture is a key driver of African industrialisation. Agro-processing holds great promise for development in rural areas.
Today, the prevailing approach is to operate on the basis of multi-country value chains. These integrate larger corporations with a myriad of Micro, small and medium enterprises.

In Africa, MSMEs account for over 80 per cent of private enterprises. The level is indeed very similar to the structure in many European economies. Already the largest employment creators particularly for women and youth, their importance will only increase.

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As for development of human resources, signs from education sector are promising. The percentage of sub-Sahran African workers with secondary education is about 40 per cent. That is about the level where Mexico and Turkey were in the 1980s when they began industrialisation processes.

African governments must wake up to the realisation that most of the heavy lifting must be done by Africans themselves if the current impressive growth is to be sustained.

Kim W N,
Via e-mail.
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Tourism needs able people at the helm

The Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism is tasked with policy formulation and co-ordination tourism activities. To execute this mandate, the ministry has state corporations entrusted with undertaking specific responsibilities. All the statutory bodies have been operating without substantive boards.

Reports attributed to the Cabinet Secretary promising to constitute boards for the statutory bodies in the ministry are welcome. Boards play a very important role in decision-making.

With the announcement, the focus shifts to the personalities to sit on these organs. Rewarding political cronies at the expense of qualifications will work against the intended objective of injecting expertise in the management of tourism.

Past appointments have failed to meet the required threshold of competence and the relevant experience. The industry is experiencing turbulent times and requires seasoned hands to give it a new lease of life.

Amaya
via email
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How to fight terror through education

Fighting terrorism is an expensive enterprise. Governments are spending millions fighting it, but they need to simultaneously develop a preventive strategy that is affordable but effective in the long run.

I see education as the best option. In an address the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee in November, 2013, Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that education is a path through which to counter extremism and defeat the scourge of terrorism.

“In the 21st century, education is a security issue,” Mr Blair told the Committee.

The radicalisation of our children — Muslim and non-Muslin alike — has happened because the extremists give the youth a distorted view of religion.

With a well-designed curriculum, particularly of subjects such as history, religious education and geography, we can equip children with adequate knowledge to make smart choices.

Kennedy Buhere,
Nairobi.

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