OPINION

Reshaping Africa’s Economic Destiny In A Sustainable Development Era By Olawale Rotimi

The era of Millennium Development Goals is fast ending and the Sustainable Development Goals have been set, accompanied by strong advocacy and campaigns by the United Nations and its agencies in order to gear the globe towards this emerging directions. Articulately stated on the United Nations Sustainable Development Knowledge platform, “the Rio+20 outcome document, The future we want, inter alia, set out a mandate to establish an Open Working Group to develop a set of sustainable development goals for consideration and appropriate action by the General Assembly at its 68th session. It also provided the basis for their conceptualization. The Rio outcome gave the mandate that the SDGs should be coherent with and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015.” Having been set, these goals mirrors the MDGs in a broader and sustainable manner, showing more commitment to growth through monitoring with data accessibility.

The sustainable development goals as the millennium development goals have more ground in Africa and Asia where poverty, food security, gender equality, education among others remain major challenges. In the case of Africa, despite major challenges faced by various African nations, where governance is characterized by instability, poor leadership and corruption, in a sustaining manner, some institutions have consistently played key roles in resolving problems of unemployment, epidemic, free trade barrier, gender inequality, poverty eradication, access to portable water among others. Africa is not left out global conversations and progression, currently, the Continent may not level up with other continents in the globe, but the motivating fact is that, Africa is making significant progress in development; we are not there yet, but we are not where we used to be.

It is inspiring to know that Africa, formerly regarded as Continent of despair has changed to a Continent of hope; this milestone is not disconnected from the noticeable economic growth and potentials recorded in Africa, particularly in the last decade. The emerging sustainable development goals present thematic issues on broad platform for playmakers in Africa to contribute to development in Africa in the areas of poverty eradication, educational development m, youth empowerment, agricultural development, gender equality, job creation, climate change, quality health to mention a few.

The issue of economic growth is critical to Africa and it inter middles with various sectors in causes and solutions. Eradicating poverty, ensuring food security, job creation among others are impossible in a poor economic atmosphere. Not limited to these, however, four critical sectors must be considered in enabling economic growth towards establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals: Education, Agriculture, Health, and Energy.

First, the level of a nation/continent’s education will determine its level of growth; no nation can grow beyond its level of education because education is the bedrock of progress. Standard of education must be improved through updated curriculum, infrastructures, girl child education, good rewards for teachers and security for students and the learning environment as a whole. Secondly, agriculture has always been with man, it provides the wealth a nation can call its own, agriculture has never failed humanity. It has the capacity to generate more employment. The goal to end poverty and ensure food security will remain impossible without agricultural development. Thirdly, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Assessing the resulting effects of an epidemic like Ebola on the economies of affected countries, foreign investors withdrew in droves from worst-hit countries in West Africa, ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steelmaker, moved its expatriate staff out of Liberia. London Mining, a British company, also removed staff from Sierra Leone. Without iron ore, Sierra Leone’s growth output, which was 20% in 2013, will fall to 5.5%, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressing how critical the iron ore sector is to the country’s economy. Fearing for staff safety, a number of international non-governmental organizations in Liberia have also closed their operations according to a United Nations report. Fourthly, energy! It is quite apparent that economic growth is inextricably linked to energy. As energy is tied to our economy, our future is dependent upon equitable access to energy.

That improvement in manufacturing power will create more jobs and boost Africa’s economy has appeared to be a major inference that will boost the continent’s economy towards sustainable development goals. Africa is endowed with fertile soil, mineral resources, passionate and energetic people, and raw materials, yet the continent is unable to solve major challenges, particularly its economy. For example, the total production capacity of Africa is only compared to that of a country in Europe despite human power and resources. Africa has a population of 1 billion, with 40 percent in the city, the main problem remains unemployment, originating from poor economy and leading to other issues such as hunger, lack of portable water among others. Unfortunately, governments of many African nations have been unable to proffer a solution to meet the demand of the growing population. In the area of unemployment, It has been projected that 17 million jobs must be created in the Continent annually to fight unemployment. Apparently, to meet this target in the sustainable development era, Africa’s economy must be boosted through manufacturing to meet SDGs. Economic and social successes of China, Japan among other places is tied to priority placed on manufacturing as means of creating wealth for continental growth. Africa consumes more than it produces, and we need to realize that our dependence on foreign products could cripple our economy because supply constraints or disruption to importation of those products could derail economic activity. It should be an imperative for Africa to intensify manufacturing in order to improve its economy.

With rapid growth in production in different sectors, there will reduced dependence on foreign financial support and more wealth will be created to cater for Africa’s challenges. By 2050, Africa’s population is projected to be at 2billion, this is only less than four decades away. More focus must be channelled towards increasing wealth because none of the SDGs goals can be done without wealth. Increasing the manufacturing power of Africa isn’t something that will be delivered to Africans; Africans have to work tenaciously to intensify processing of its raw materials into finished products for export. Some of the key areas of focus include agriculture, information technology, engineering, media and entertainment. The fascinating development is that, many young Africans are responding to this challenge. More young entrepreneurs and manufacturers are emerging in Africa; this explains why government and financial institutions should work together in infrastructural development and financial packages for young manufacturers in across Africa.

Following this frame work, not to miss out in the SDGs emerging trends and cater for the growing African population, there is a need for a continental initiative that will motivate, inspire, project and create wealth for Africa through manufacturing in various sectors across the Continent. By fetching manufacturers in institutions and local communities and promoting their products, Africa’s manufacturing strength will be driven. We cannot remain a continent depends on foreign grants to and expect the continent to develop.

Olawale Rotimi
T: @RotimiLawale

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