Ten ways to help Africa grow

2010-07-04 13:45

1. Boost entrepreneurship

Absa CEO Maria Ramos says: “We need to unlock the economic value of entrepreneurs and create far more small and medium-sized businesses on the continent.

“We also need to be more confident about investing in our countries ourselves and show the world that we
can do it.”

2. Build infrastructure

Tackling one of the continent’s biggest challenges, governments and the private sector are under pressure to substantially increase their infrastructure spending as this cuts across all aspects of life.

Former US president Bill Clinton believes: “If you want to create opportunities in Africa, build roads and introduce solar power. In that way, you’ll also substantially increase agricultural productivity.”

3. Lower the cost of doing business

By 2040, Africa’s ­workforce is expected to top that of China and India. But for that to be done, African countries need to up their game.

Time magazine managing editor Nick Stengel advises: “Create and sell innovative products and services, and cut the costs of doing business.”

Studies show that poor ­infrastructure, red tape and regulation have hampered ­investment in Africa.

4. Grow the middle class

Make sure the wealth is felt by all, says Fortune magazine managing ­editor Andy Serwer.

The key is growing a middle class. That’s critical to ­markets, growth and stability.

Says Serwer: “Get hold of the huge gulf between rich and poor, and create that middle.”

5. Revolutionise agriculture

Good infrastructure, farming methods and support can make a ­dramatic difference in agriculture, Africa’s largest economic sector.

Clinton says: “Increase the capacity of Africans to feed themselves and export.”

­Investment in African ­agriculture has picked up in recent years. Boosting ­productivity and developing technology such as ­drought-resistant maize will add to the positive mix.

6. Equal opportunities for women

Involve women in ­decision making from grass roots level to the ­executive layer of companies and governments.

Equalise ­education for boys and girls.

Says social activist Graca Machel, who is a member of The Elders, the eminent group of global leaders: “We want women to move from small to middle, but particularly from medium to the top, because that’s where policy is being shaped.”

7. Connect to each other and the world

Africa has become the fastest-growing region in the global cellular ­market. More than 400?million ­Africans now have cellphones.

This has helped to boost ­Africa’s economic growth.

The McKinsey report ­recommends ­reducing rural ­licence fees, ­developing low-cost off-peak packages and forging new ­industry ­practices.

8. Promote good governance

“What Africa requires is excellent leadership that can entrench good governance at an institutional level,” says Mo Ibrahim, founder and chairperson of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which tracks African governance.

He backs the continued ­involvement of African civil society – from media to parliaments to community-based ­organisations – in keeping ­governments and their leaders accountable.

9. Expand trade
“Diversify trade relations, build on ties we already have and push ahead with trade programmes.” advocates Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies.

Since 1990 sub-Saharan ­Africa has almost tripled its level of exports and diversified its trade and investment ­partners.

10. Unite as Africans

“The real growth will come from uniting the people of Africa, not necessarily the governments,” says Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

“Accelerate free movement of people, goods and services across countries. “And then build on the positive ­perceptions of ­Africa that have been ­generated by events such as the 2010 Fifa World Cup.”

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