By Amanda Aniston
ACET economic gurus in turn gave presentations on the organisation’s current work on agricultural transformation, its launch last year of an Africa-wide coalition on transformation, as well as its ‘Growth with DEPTH’ transformation framework.
The workshop began with a discussion about the role of the media in economic development and ended with a 30-minute conversation between the journalists and ACET president, Dr. K.Y. Amoako, a former executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, who founded the organisation in 2008.
Agriculture’s role in economic transformation was a major theme of the sensitisation workshop. Although Africa possesses most of the world’s uncultivated arable land, numerous challenges confront the sector, obstructing Africa from realising its full agricultural potential.
In his keynote presentation, ACET chief economist, Dr. Yaw Ansu noted that Africa has the potential to produce sufficient food to feed its people and also export, but numerous challenges remain to be tackled. Availability and access to land due to the traditional system of land tenure practices was a major challenge noted by Dr. Ansu. Adopting a land tenure system that allows people to borrow against their land could help tackle some of the land related issues, Dr. Ansu said.
The commercialization and industrialization of agriculture, mechanized agriculture and the practice of irrigation in arid areas are notable strategic interventions that could help boost Africa’s agricultural sector. But, Dr Ansu said, agriculture is directly affected by Africa’s political economy, thus there is need for government policies to enhance agricultural productivity.
Over the years, ACET has provided policy advice and evidence-based perspectives to leaders in countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso. ACET’s Director of Policy Advisory Services, Dr. Ed Brown, pointed out that the maiden African Transformation Forum, convened in March 2016 in Kigali jointly with the Government of Rwanda, provided a great interactive platform for countries to engage and learn from each other’s experiences. The Forum drew more than 270 stakeholders, donors and government representatives and climaxed with the launch of the Pan-African Coalition for Transformation, for which Rwandan president, Paul Kagame put in an appearance.
The African Transformation Index (ATI) is a tool developed by ACET to measure and benchmark the transformation of countries using ACET’s DEPTH framework. The African Transformation Index (ATI) is a tool developed by ACET to measure and benchmark the transformation of countries using ACET’s DEPTH framework. DEPTH stands for Diversification, Export competiveness, Productivity, Technological advancement and Human wellbeing.
The director of research at ACET, Prof. Joe Amoako Tuffuor, in his presentation on the ATI showed how countries like Mauritius and South Africa have performed reasonably well over the past decade, while Ghana has dropped by several points. He recommended three sets of variables as pivotal to transformation, namely the state and the private sector, the promotion of exports, and building technical knowledge and skills.
Sustainable transformative growth is possible if the political economy aligns itself with key sectors by staging and facilitating strategic key interventions backed up by policies to drive the African transformation agenda.
The media thus plays a prominent role in accelerating this agenda through exposure and media engagements with relevant stakeholder institutions.
The 13th February workshop was attended by 21 members of IFEJ and moderated jointly by ACET director of communications and external relations, Dede Amanor-Wilks, and IFEJ president, Lloyd Evans.
ACET is an economic policy institute supporting Africa’s long-term growth through transformation. IFEJ was established in 1991 with the support of the World Bank and the Ghanaian Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.