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AfDB, others tie Africa's transformation to viable agric sector

Published by Guardian on Thu, 30 May 2013


Peg growth at 4.8 per centDEVELOPMENT agencies, comprising the African Development Bank (AfDB), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Centre, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have hinged Africa's development on its ability to harness its agricultural resources for sustainable growth.The agencies, in their joint African Economic Outlook 2013 report released by the African Development Bank (AfDB), noted that prudent and effective deployment of the continent's huge natural endowments was sine qua non to her quest for a sound economy and overall transformation.The report indicated that the continent's economic outlook for 2013 and 2014 is promising, confirming its healthy resilience to internal and external shocks and its role as a growth pole in an ailing global economy.It read in part: 'Africa's economy is projected to grow by 4.8 per cent in 2013 and accelerate further to 5.3 per cent in 2014.The report shows this growth has been accompanied by insufficient poverty reduction, persisting unemployment, and increased income inequalities in some countries, as well as deteriorating levels of health and education.'Now is the time to step up the tempo of economic transformation, so that African economies become more competitive and create more gainful jobs, widening the sources of economic activity is fundamental to meeting this challenge', it added.The report argues that African countries must tap into their natural resource wealth to accelerate the pace of growth and ensure the process can benefit ordinary Africans.Director at the OECD Development Centre, Mario Pezzini said: 'Growth is not enough. African countries must provide the right conditions for turning natural resources into jobs, optimise their resource revenues through smart taxation and help investors and locals to make the most of linkages.'According to the report, four key elements are needed to achieve that objective. Firstly, African countries should create the right conditions for such a transformation to take place, including infrastructure, education and the creation of larger and more competitive markets.Director, Macroeconomic Policy Division at ECA, Emmanuel Nnadozie, said: 'Access to markets is fundamental to structural transformation based on natural resources: regional integration and better access to the markets of large partners could open new opportunities for all.'Besides, the report noted that the primary sectors require sound land management, balanced and effective tax systems and the right mechanisms and incentives to cause an acceleration and diversification of the sources of growth.'In the agricultural sector for instance, transport, fertilizers and more resistant seeds are required for an increase in productivity. Africa has 24 per cent of the world's agricultural land, but accounts for only 9 per cent of its production.'Furthermore, governments and investors must ensure that a fair share of the proceeds from natural resources and extractive industries accrue to society: for example, they should be invested in people's capacities to take up new jobs in promising sectors', the report added.Chief Economist and Vice-President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Mthuli Ncube, noted thus: 'Now is the time. After ten years of improved stability, sound macroeconomic policies and blossoming trade links, growth has made African nations freer than ever to choose their own development paths and implement active policies for economic transformation.'The report suggested however that African countries could foster change and economic diversification actively, for example through corridors of development around power, transport and communication lines. Stable and transparent use of budgets is key to achieving that goal.'Ultimately, transformation means opening opportunities so people can find jobs, create businesses, as well as invest in health, education and food security. In turn, higher levels of human development for all, including the most vulnerable, can accelerate the pace of economic transformation, leading to a virtuous cycle of growth and development', it stressed.
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