The narrative of Africa rising has overwhelmingly focused on hard economic data to support the proposition being put forth by its protagonists. Nigeria has made tremendous progress economically, surpassing South Africa in GDP size; the former (Nigeria) being $568.5b while South Africa reaching $349b by year-end 2014. A careful review of the data suggest that the fulcrum of this growth wave is driven by technology, particular investment in fibre, satellite and wireless technology making mobile broadband services cheaper and accessible. These notwithstanding, I would argue, that a more balanced evaluation criteria needs to adopted to assess the quality of progress made; cultural convergence and regional integration, for instance requires a review to assess whether the original intent articulated in the Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) in 1980 by the Organisation of African Unity (O.A.U), now A.U, to use regional economic cooperation as a strategy to achieve the goal of market harmonisation across Africa, is still on course or abandoned. Simply put, is the dream of creating a single African market out of the 1.1 billion population on the continent still a policy proposal under consideration? If so, what should be the strategy for regional convergence on issue of education, language and infrastructure as foundational pillars for intra-African trade ?
On Wednesday 26.08.15, at IMANI Ghana’s annual lecture SYPALA held at University of Ghana Business School, I endeavored to address these critical questions and to raise further questions for policy consideration.
Africa rising; where is the evidence? The presentation provides just that; evidence, to support the proposition that indeed, Africa has made progress, albeit more needs to be done on several fronts. The text also focus on what the role of entrepreneurship ought to be given the stark evidence of inequality and poverty that still pertains.
There are 35 slides covering various aspects. Slide 1-6 provides Africa’s performance context; factor endowment, continent-wide governance institutions (A.U, AfDB, etc.) and Africa’s geopolitical position on key areas such as trade and investment, infrastructure and democracy.
Slide 7-15 shows trends in the general business environment; political, economics, socio-cultural and technology. It is my argument, that technology has contributed immensely to the growth in services across board.
Slide 16-22 looks at country-specific performance using the business environment metrics discussed prior. For instance, in the area of financial intermediation (sub-category of economy), South Africa has high Deposit Money Bank’s (DMB) deposit/GDP ratio (59.1%: 2011) and asset/GDP ratio (82.5%: 2010) which provides proxy indicator for efficient financial intermediation. The latter shows the system’s capacity to fund big-ticket deals from domestic sources.
Slide 23-29 is the exciting category which shows the amazing crop of new entrepreneurial class who are driving the growth agenda. Their businesses ranges from light manufacturing and renewable energy to technology and logistics. Slide 30-32 provides a heart-breaking counterfactual to the Africa rising story. Anecdotal evidence of real life people struggling to make ends meet flies in the face of all the highfalutin economic data. People I met personally, praying and breaking their backs just so they can break bread with family members who have little or no education, suggests that the political establishment ought to do more in terms of accurate policy targeting and social safety programming. This is the context within which I discuss the role of entrepreneurship; to support public policy objectives of reducing unemployment and poverty.
I conclude (Slide 34) by discussing practical recommendations at three levels; personal, corporate and policy levels.
I remain grateful to IMANI Centre for Policy and Education for this remarkable opportunity to inspire Africa’s next generation of leaders and game changers.
You may view/download the presentation using the link below.
Author: Nkunimdini Asante-Antwi