Home-grown policies key to transformation of African economies

October 8, 2019
Structural transformation of African economies would best be achieved on the development of home-grown policies and strategies that spur growth of production in various sectors.

Dr Arkebe Oqubay, Minister and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said instead of prescriptions from outside, which in most cases do not work, African countries were better off looking for solutions within to solve their challenges.

This, the countries could do through learning and adapting lessons from countries which have successfully walked the path.

This, however, is not to swallow hook, line and sinker, the consensus of the Brettonwood institutions, he said.

Dr Oqubay was speaking at a seminar on industrialisation strategy at a roundtable organised by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET).

The discussion was to enable Dr Oqubay share Ethiopia’s experience and commitment to structural transformation, including successes and challenges from which Ghana’s policy makers and the private sector could draw lessons for the country’s industrialisation agenda.

Dr Oqubay said for things to change rapidly, very good policies, backed by strong leadership, were needed to achieve the transformation and development the citizens sought.

In addition, the attraction of Foreign Direct Investments and the direction of government’s expenditure into long-term investment of infrastructure such as energy, roads, and railways among others as well as building human capital will be key to attaining the goals of transformation.

Touching on the experience of Ethiopia, he said aside the focus on agriculture, there were also plans for long-term investments, especially in three areas, namely Energy, Railways and Skills.

He cited the instance where about 55 per cent of the Federal budget was spent on these long-term infrastructure projects.

Dr Oqubay said the huge investment in energy was a great step to supporting the country’s manufacturing sector to thrive, as reliable and affordable energy supply could not be ignored in efforts to industrialise.

The country has also moved forward and invested in a modern railway system, while the focus on investment in skills development had led to the expansion of universities, technical schools and technical centres to train more students for the industrialisation agenda.

“We also completely overhauled the courses and over 70 per cent are now in engineering, technology and natural sciences,” he said, adding that in the past 90 percent was in social sciences.

He said the shift in educational priorities had positioned the country to provide skilled labour to investors in the manufacturing sector.

“In the process, we are targeting to create two million manufacturing jobs in medium and large size firms in the coming 10 years, and we want to expand manufacturing to grow four-fold from the existing share of the total GDP.

“This makes it sustainable because we will be having a young workforce that is very well trained and productive,” he said.

Dr Oqubay also touched on the importance of exports for diversification, generating the necessary foreign exchange earnings for balance of payment demands and for meeting critical technology needs.

On China-Africa relationship, he called on countries to develop their own strategies on how to ensure they benefitted from the enormous opportunities from the connexion.

In his opening remarks, Dr K.Y. Amoako, President, ACET, underscored the importance of the seminar to Ghana’s quest for industrialisation and the move beyond a raw commodity-based economy.


This article was first published by Ghana News Agency.

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