The year 2018 is fast coming to an end. It is time to look back and assess whether Africa made some progress in creating sustainable economic opportunities for its citizens.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation launched its 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance on 29 October 2018. The Index illustrated that there has “… virtually no progress in creating Sustainable Economic Opportunities” to meet the needs and expectations of the growing youthful African population.
Though African Gross Domestic Product grew in some countries, overall African leadership failed to translate this growth into improved and sustainable economic opportunities which should enable citizens to pursue their economic goals and prosper.
The Index further recorded declining business environment.
Declining business environment translates into job losses while the population of working age was increasing. African countries have not been able to create the conditions for the socio-economic integration of youth.
In addition, the Index recorded that African Education Systems were not meeting the needs of African economies. The Index demonstrated that the Education score for 27 countries deteriorated in the last five years affecting more than half of Africa’s population.
In respect to Progress in Participation and Human Rights, the Index recorded that citizen’s political and civic space in Africa is shrinking. The Index highlighted that citizen’s rights and welfare are key to progress in public governance.
The Index report concluded that Africa has a huge challenge of translating its large and youthful workforce in to an economic dividend. The Mo Ibrahim Index of Governance appealed to African leaders to give hope, prospects and opportunity to African youth. One hopes that African leaders will make the plight of African youth their key New Year resolution.
Furthermore. The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018 highlighted the fact that many African countries are not growing their economies in order to provide jobs to their citizens and improve their well-being. According to the Global Competitiveness Report many African countries lack the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country.
These include the basic requirements such as institutions of governance, infrastructure, macro-economic environment, health and education. In addition, many an African country has not acquired efficiency enhancers, such as functioning markets, effective higher education and training as well as technological readiness.
Africa is not investing in research and innovation. The Continent is not preparing its economy and people to take advantage of new technologies in order to enhance its productivity and competitiveness.
Namibia was ranked 90 out of 137 countries. It shared a score of 4.0 out 10 scores with Kenya. Most of Sub- Saharan countries featured on the bottom with score of less than 2.0, sharing the same competitiveness score with Yemen. African leadership has a big challenge of addressing the economic growth and the well-being of their citizens. Sloganeering is not the answer. Setting achievable goals shall help Africa to be productive and competitive.
Africa must address fundamental challenges such the “…ease of doing business” in African countries. The Ease of Doing Business Report 2018 ranked Namibia at 107 out of 190 countries.
The Ease of Doing Business Report of the World Bank measures how the regulatory environment is conducive to business, the protection of property right and similar variables. If a country like Namibia wants to attract foreign direct investment it should seriously address the bottlenecks in business environment. For example, Namibia needs to encourage investment in rural and communal areas.
The bureaucracy in getting land in communal areas is such that a potential investor will be discouraged. In order to acquire a piece of land in communal areas one has to secure a permit to occupy from a village headperson, a confirmation from a Traditional Authority and a leasehold from the concerned Land Board.
Since meetings of Land Boards are sponsored by the Ministry of Land Reform, Land Board meetings rarely take place. In addition, the Ministry of Land Reform imposes a Levy which increases every year by 2 percent.
Yet investments in rural communal areas is needed to bring services and jobs in our villages. The rural -urban migration which is responsible for uncontrolled informal and squatter settlements in peri-urban areas is a consequence of luck of opportunities in rural areas. One would have expected Government to create incentives for people to invest in rural communal areas.
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance, the Global Competitiveness Report and the Ease of Doing Business Score card are pointers which should help African policy makers adopt policies which will help Africa to address the aspirations of the African youth. I would urge African leaders to declare year 2019 as the year of African youth.
Africa should give hope to its youth!