… Africa must therefore increase implementation capacity at national, regional and continental levels, says ACBF chief
Africa is in dire need of effective public policies aimed at increasing productivity in agriculture and extractive sectors as well as for developing new manufacturing sectors and capturing gains from intra-Africa and global trade markets.
According to Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of ACBF, effective public policies that promote quality of exports and investments in physical and technological infrastructure development as well as critical skills development, should be at the core of the continent’s transformation process.
This includes policies that promote investment in science, technology and innovation; improvements in the enforcement of property rights and regulatory framework; creation of strong trade coordinating institutions; and promoting local firms and private sector development.
In an opening speech at the 3rd Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 4-8 March 2019, Prof Nnadozie said although productive transformation lies at the core of the successful implementation of Agenda 2063, having policies for productive transformation is not enough and therefore urged Africa to increase implementation capacity at national, regional and continental levels.
“This will entail developing institutional and human capacities in the regional economic communities (RECs) and state institutions coordinating socio-economic transformation agendas,” the ES said before sharing two areas that ACBF research has unearthed as critical for the continent’s productive transformation.
These are: (1) developing the leadership for productive transformation; and (2) ensuring that critical technical skills are built for diversification and industrial take-off.
The Yaoundé meeting is co-organized by the African Union, and it is running under the theme: “Public policies for productive transformation”
On leadership, Prof Nnadozie referred his audience to ACBF’s flagship publication, the 2019 Africa Capacity Report (ACR), which will be launched on 8 March at the Yaoundé meeting. This year’s ACR with foreword from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, is titled: “Fostering transformative leadership for Africa’s development”.
The ES said the ACR “clearly shows that it is important to revamp leadership development institutions and curriculum while ensuring that state institutions and the private sector take more interest in leadership development through dedicated structures and budgetary support.
“Developing soft leadership capacities (including visioning, change readiness, and ability for mindset shifts) is particularly critical for doing business unusual and unlocking Africa’s industrialization potential, and therefore ensure productive transformation.
“Secondly, ACBF studies on the implementation of Agenda 2063 show that African countries need to promote the critical technical skills required for industrial take-off. Specifically, there is need to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI).”
In terms of the critical technical skills, Prof. Nnadozie cited ACBF studies in the past that revealed huge gaps continent-wide. For example, as of 2016, the continent lacked an estimated 4.3 million engineers, implying the need to produce around 500,000 engineers each year until 2023.
The 2017 Africa Capacity Report, which was on building capacities in science, technology and innovation (STI), also revealed that although 77% of African countries surveyed consider investment in technical skills to be a high priority, yet over 75% of enrolment in most African universities are in social sciences (business management, law, humanities, etc) and not technical skills.
“This,” the Executive Secretary said, “is a reflection of a dis-joint between country priorities and what the training institutions are producing.” Worse, this is coming at a time when “transformative leadership and public policies focused on the development of critical skills are accelerating the productive transformation in a number of African countries.”
Prof. Nnadozie then announced thatin order to support the productive transformation agenda,” ACBF is planning to scale-up its training of graduates in the areas of science, technology and innovation by going beyond the support provided thus far to the three regional training programmes being run by the Mandela Institutes of Science and Technology based in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Abuja (Nigeria) and Arusha (Tanzania).”
In addition, ACBF, in partnership with the African Union Commission and other partners, will put together a capacity development program on transformative leadership. This is an area, the Executive Secretary acknowledged, will require the collective support of African countries, the private sector, and development partners.
Prof Nnadozie expressed the Foundation’s commitment - as the AU’s specialized agency for capacity development and also building on its 28 years of experience – to support member countries in developing the requisite institutional and human capacities for the design and implementation of public policies that can accelerate Africa’s productive transformation.
In view of this commitment, Prof Nnadozie said ACBF would need the support of African countries and development partners such as the World Bank, UNECA, NEPAD, AfDB, UNDP, BADEA, AFREXIM Bank and others.