Economic Gains Must Reflect In People’s Lives’

The 2013 Economic Report on Africa (ERA) has urged African countries to implement policies that will make their modest economic successes reflect in the pockets of their people. Such policies, according to the report, were necessary if the continent was to become a global economic power that could address the challenges of youth unemployment, poverty and gender disparities. It said even though the average economic growth of the continent peaked at five per cent in 2012, the same could not be said for reduced poverty levels across the region. The report, authored jointly by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC), was launched in Accra yesterday. It was based on studies of nine African countries, including Ghana, which have helped to generate evidence-based policy recommendations. According to the report, African countries have an opportunity to transform their economies through a commodity-based industrialisation strategy. “Maximising Africa’s commodities for industrialisation involves adding value to soft and hard commodities and developing forward and backward linkages to the commodity sector,” it said. The theme of the report is, “Making the Most of Africa’s Commodities: Industrialising for Growth, Jobs and Economic Transformation”. Apart from providing employment, income, price and non-price benefits, African countries, by adding value to their raw materials locally, could also bring about diversification of technological capabilities, an expanded skills base and the deepening of individual countries’ industrial structures. “Although Africa boasts about 12 per cent of the world’s oil reserves, 40 per cent of its gold, 80 to 90 per cent of chromium and platinum group metals, 60 per cent of arable land and vast timber resources, value addition is still limited, culminating in the paltry receipts for the export of its primary commodities,” the report said. Launching the report, the Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr Regina Adutwum, said the revelations in the report were in tune with the country’s development challenges. “Maximising the benefits from our commodity-based exports, sustaining growth from our industrialisation efforts, converting the gains from our economic growth and stability to jobs for our growing youthful population and securing economic transformation are all critical concerns that we have been seeking to address,” she said. According to her, the NDPC would take lessons from the report in documenting the country’s successor development plan after the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) expired at the close of 2013. The Country Director for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Mr Kamil Kamaluddeen, said the surest way to create jobs was to add value to natural resources and pay fair prices for commodities. He said failure on the part of African leaders to pursue that could have serious consequences for peace, stability and tranquillity, which were essential for development. Participants in the launch recommended that improved policy implementation through coordination among relevant ministries was necessary to reduce incidents of coordination failure that had for long plagued the continent.