Africa needs to push for accelerated development by harnessing local resources to boost entrepreneurship and drive its industrialization.
Participants at the 52nd Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) expressed this view at the release of the 2017 African Economic Outlook (AEO) on Monday, May 22, 2017 in Ahmedabad, India.
“Entrepreneurship is the engine and spirit that drives private sector and growth,” said Angela Lusigi, Policy Advisor at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Africa.
Lusigi added that raising the value of entrepreneurship and the private sector was the best way to leverage democratic dividends on the continent. In the same vein, she argued that African education must move away from theory to inculcate practical skills, support apprenticeship and boost industry.
On the financial side, the focus must go beyond tax revenues and foreign assistance to internally generated resources for accelerated development, she said.
The 16th edition of the AEO which focuses on “Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation in Africa” provides in-depth analysis of the role of entrepreneurs in Africa’s industrialisation process. It suggests practical steps that African governments can take to carry out effective industrialisation strategies.
Produced by the AfDB, OECD Development Centre and the UNDP, the publication contains projections and analysis on macroeconomic, finance, trade, social and human development trends and statistics for the continent. It also includes in-depth country profiles which look at recent economic developments and highlights the main policy issues facing each of the 54 African countries.
Presenting the report earlier, Abebe Shimeles, Acting Director, Macroeconomics Policy, Forecasting and Research at AfDB, said that it exposed the myth that Africa’s resilient economic growth was entirely derived from natural resources.
The flagship report shows that Africa’s real GDP growth slowed down to 2.2% in 2016, mainly due to the continued fall in commodity prices and weak global economic growth. East Africa was the fastest-growing region at 5.3% real GDP growth, followed by North Africa at 3%. Growth in other regions was poor, ranging from a low of 0.4% in West Africa, dragged down by the recession in Nigeria, to 1.1% in Southern Africa, with South Africa, the region’s largest economy, posting only 0.3% growth.
The report maintains that with dynamic private sectors, entrepreneurial spirit and vast resources, Africa has the potential to grow faster and more inclusively. The continent’s average growth is expected to rebound to 3.4% in 2017, assuming that the recovery in commodity prices is sustained, the world economy is strengthened and domestic macroeconomic reforms are entrenched. In 2018, growth is expected to consolidate, expanding by 4.3%.
However, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, who has embraced the “Africa’s Optimist-in-Chief” label, noted that beyond the averages, African economies have remained resilient to headwinds and external shocks, citing countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal, which were recording growth rates ranging from 6% to 8% or more.
Noting that Africa has the fastest-growing economies in the world as well as the youngest population, the real issue is “What do we do with the youth and how to develop their capacity to unlock their entrepreneurship? How does Africa take advantage of its diversity?”
Other key participants at the session moderated by Wallace Kantai of NTV Kenya were Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre, Paris; and Abdalla Hamdok, Acting Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).