How to anchor Africa's growth.

Author:Amoako, K.Y.
Position:WEF on Africa

Africa has seen extraordinary growth in recent years, but the continent needs transformation. K.Y Amoako, President of the African Centre for Economic Transformation, explains how it can be done.

In the last decade, Africa has seen a remarkable turnaround. Africa's real GDP has more than doubled since 2000, and in 2014, six of the world's 10 fastest-growing countries were in sub-Saharan Africa.

This new Africa--'Africa Rising', as the dominant narrative has become--is a story worth celebrating after so many years of bad news and struggles.

But there is an important question we all should be asking: How can Africa sustain its growth and break from its past once and for all? Furthermore, can this growth have depth and translate into global competitiveness, good jobs, rising incomes, quality education and health, and improving standards of living for its citizens?

The answer is obvious. Africa can make this great transition, as other regions have done, but only through deliberate, sustained and implementable policies.

None of us can pretend that the process will be easy or that it will evolve naturally as some have suggested. Change only comes through deliberate decisions and the will, determination and energy to follow through.

There is an African saying: "If you know the beginning well, the end shall never trouble you." For economic transformation and sustainable development to become the norm in Africa, it is imperative to understand the perils and pitfalls of the past.

Get it right

The underlying issues are complex and multi-faceted. Transformation is a long-term process spanning two or three decades. The experiences of countries in Asia and elsewhere teach us that. Conceived properly, the vision should involve all segments of society and belong to the nation.

The process requires getting the balance right between the state and private enterprise--and having effective mechanisms for the two to support each other in the pursuit of economic learning, development and growth.

Businesses, large and small, lead in producing and distributing goods and services, upgrading technologies and processes, diversifying production and exports, and expanding employment opportunities.

But they cannot operate alone. States must create an enabling environment while also setting the national economic vision and strategy, as well as crafting policies, public investments and incentive packages to support that strategy.

Organised labour and civil society have...

To continue reading