What’s Up In Rural Africa?

It is time to reflect on how far Africa has come in terms of sustainable development and growth, especially in the rural areas. This week, we bring to you some of the exclusive reports that made headlines worldwide on growth and development in Africa.

Politics

Akufo-Addo: The West will never develop Africa

Nobody but Africans can develop their own Continent, Ghana’s main opposition Leader Nana Akufo-Addo has said.

“I think there’s one simple truth that all of us on the Continent have to recognise; nobody is going to build this African Continent for us but ourselves,” the three-time Flag-bearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) said during a discussion about democracy and governance on the BBC on Democracy Day January 20, 2015. Source

Mugabe and the AU Mandate: It’s not about Mugabe, it’s about the AU

Mugabe’s appointment is not the first time that a controversial figure has been elected to the position. The late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi also had the role in 2009, for example.

While the decision may have caused consternation among some international observers, it was Southern Africa’s turn to take on the rotating presidency and some say he’s the only viable candidate at the moment.

While the decision may have caused consternation among some international observers, it was Southern Africa’s turn to take on the rotating presidency and some say he’s the only viable candidate at the moment.

Business & Economy

How Can We Transform Africa’s Economy for Good?

African economies have sustained unprecedented rates of growth in the past decade. This growth was mainly driven by exports of natural resources and commodities, improved macroeconomic management, a growing middle class, and increased domestic demand fuelled by consumption and increased political stability.

However, Africa’s growth has not been inclusive, as poverty rates and inequalities remain somewhere/somehow high. In order to foster growth inclusiveness, African economies should shift from low- to high-productivity activities and sectors.

Therefore, Africa needs to sustain a structural transformation from a resource-based economy towards an industry- or service-based economy. Source

Africa Losing billions from fraud and tax avoidance

Africa is losing more than $50bn (£33bn) every year in illicit financial outflows as governments and multinational companies engage in fraudulent schemes aimed at avoiding tax payments to some of the world’s poorest countries, impeding development projects and denying poor people access to crucial services.

Illegal transfers from African countries have tripled since 2001, when $20bn was siphoned off, according to a report released by the African Union’s (AU) high-level panel on illicit financial flows and the UN economic commission for Africa (Uneca).

Africa is still an attractive innovation hub

As the second largest continent in the world, and having the second highest population after Asia, Africa is a lucrative destination for innovation activities.

The extended period of political stability and favourable demographic dividend has attracted billions of dollars in foreign direct investment across various sectors – but substantial space exists for faster innovations instead of long-term development projects.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Innovations in Emerging Economies – Africa, finds that Africa is a hub for innovation in the automation and electronics, information and communication technologies (ICT), healthcare, chemicals and materials, and energy and environment sectors. Source 

Youth and Development

Is Africa on the verge of a new era of economic growth and development?

There are signs that Africa could be on the verge of a new era of economic growth and development. Growth from 2000 to 2010 averaged over 5 per cent per annum. Even while the financial crisis hammered the economies of the West, average growth across the continent managed to stay firmly in positive territory.

While this is an encouraging foundation, more needs to be done to deliver sustainable growth. To effectively reduce poverty, Africa must grow at an average of 7 per cent or more – not far short of China’s current (and slowing) growth rate. To achieve this, investment needs to be at around 25 per cent of GDP; over the last two decades, it has been closer to 18 per cent. Closing this gap must therefore be an imperative for policymakers. Source

‘Youth lens’ brings development challenges into sharper focus at UN forum

The emerging United Nations-led sustainability agenda, to be crafted around a set of sustainable development goals, must be inspired by and inspiring for the world”s young people, the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) said today as he closed the Council”s annual Youth Forum with a call for young people to amplify their voices and become more involved in building “the future we want.”

Growth of Africa’s tourism industry depends on policies, says African Development Bank’s Chief Economist

The lack of proper policies aimed at generating tourist interest is a major reason why Africa’s tourism remains largely untapped, Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, African Development Bank Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President, said Thursday, January 29 on the occasion of a conference on tourism and investment in Africa held in Madrid, Spain. In his view, many African governments have periodically discussed the importance of tourism, but few have developed full-fledged master plans for its development.

Well-functioning tourist sectors thus have capacity to energize economies, including rural sectors, and help to modernize manufacturing and service industries. They also impart skills to youth, which can be useful in other parts of the economy,” Kayizzi-Mugerwa underscored. Source

Africa: Development Is Complex but Needs Simple Solutions

Every year, hundreds of billions of foreign aid dollars are spent on international development and humanitarian assistance. But the return is modest, with relatively little achieved.

Sometimes the metrics (or lack thereof) are to blame. But more often it’s because those interventions weren’t what the target community needed, were too technically complex or costly to maintain, or failed to understand the social and cultural dimensions around implementation and uptake.

As a result, aid organisations must constantly defend their presence and the importance of funding.

The answer is to go back to supporting the simple solutions that we know have worked for years. Source

Everyday Life

Poorest children more likely to die young in developing countries

A “lottery of birth” is at play in many developing countries where poorer, socially disadvantaged children are more likely to die than their more fortunate peers, according to a leading children’s charity.

Save the Children said that in 78 percent of the 87 low and middle income countries it analysed in its “Lottery of Birth” report, at least one social or economic group was lagging behind and making slower progress in reducing child mortality.

In 16 percent of those countries, the gap in child mortality rates had increased across all social and economic groups.

“In this day and age, it is scandalous that so many children’s chances of survival across the world is purely a matter of whether or not they were lucky enough to be born into an affluent family who can access quality healthcare,” Jonathan Glennie, director of policy and research at Save the Children, said in a statement.

South Africa: Where 12 Million Live in Extreme Poverty

Tuesday’s Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) report uses different figures to count those living in poverty. Using the Income Expenditure Survey from 2010/11, which updated and reweighed a basket of goods and services after collecting data from 25,000 households, Stats SA’s new poverty lines come from a cost-of-basic-needs approach, including both food and non-food. It calculates the minimum amount of money you need to survive. Source

Health

An End To HIV In Africa Draws Near As Drugs Are Better Than Ever, But Stigma May Be Final Hurdle

Researchers on the front lines of HIV/AIDS eradication have often operated on shoestring budgets and faced an ever-evolving enemy, but perhaps the greatest obstacle to ending the pandemic that has killed an estimated 39 million people in three decades has been stigma. In some areas of sub-Saharan Africa, where the vast majority of new infections have occurred, shame has kept many at-risk people from seeking treatment or taking measures to prevent infection, especially among women, who account for the majority of new HIV infections on the continent. Source

Ageing African leaders need to bridge generation chasm

In Africa, there is a demographic disconnect between leaders and those they lead. While the average population age of Africa is younger than 30, their leaders are likely to be twice that age and, in many cases, far older. This is indicative of a vast dichotomy between disengaged governments and their young and increasingly demanding populations.

Last year, the World Bank gave South Africa a good story tell. It released a report that said due to South Africa’s “slightly progressive” tax system and “highly progressive” government spending, around 3.6 million people have been lifted out of poverty, halving the number of South Africans living on less than $1.25 a day. Because of grants, free basic services and taxes favouring the poor, the poverty rate dropped from 46.2% to 39%. Source.

Busayo Sotunde is a prolific writer with special focus on Business, Entrepreneurship, Reproductive Health and other development issues in Africa. Her articles have been published by different outlets including Investing Port and Ventures-Africa.com. She has a penchant for reading and sustainable development. Follow Busayo on Twitter @BusayomiSotunde

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