Diaspora remittances are a key source of financing for Africa’s development

Whether formal or informal, remittances from the diaspora have long been undervalued. However, they characterize a large part of Africa’s financial life. These financial flows between individuals contribute significantly to the economic growth of African countries: between 10% and 20% of the GDP of some countries, from Senegal to Lesotho, thanks to remittances that are sent through formal channels. According to the World Bank, money transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa represent $46 billion for the continent as a whole in 2018. These transfers have become more important than official development assistance.

Donors have been slow to realize the importance of remittances. The first report was published only in 2010 by the World Bank and the AfDB. It estimated that some 30 million African nationals from the diaspora, including North Africa, made “formal” transfers through traditional banking networks. 

Another category of less documented flow, that is crucial in daily life, is the funds that flow between African countries, such as Nigerian operators who source agricultural inputs in Côte d’Ivoire, Somali expatriates who support their families from South Africa or Malian manufacturers who source cement in Senegal, for example. These exchanges do not necessarily involve direct transfers. They are based above all on a form of “relational” economy specific to our continent and is based on trust. (see below the main amounts of remittances in Africa).

We can also note that a significant proportion of money transfers are made through informal means. In reality, this money circulates through ingenious channels, aimed at circumventing exchange control regulations or fees charged on international transfers. A simple call between New York and Dakar is all it takes, through banks managed by the “Modou-Modou”, small traders belonging to the Muslim community of the Mourides. These dematerialized money transfers are based on trusted networks and intermediaries charging small commissions: for example, an informal operator in Morocco will take the money of a Senegalese in Morocco who would like to transfer it home, but keep the cash for a different transaction made by another Senegalese customer in Morocco. 

Commissions are half the amount of the 10% or so charged by some remittance companies that are deeply involved in Africa and are located in every cities from which migrants leave, such as Louga in Senegal or Kayes in Mali. The market is huge, since 80% of African migration takes place within the continent, according to the African Union.

These agencies share a rapidly expanding sector, with 61% of the market share of a $4 billion per year market according to the World Bank. This is a trend coveted by banks (32% market share), post offices (5%) and, increasingly, by mobile phone operators. Some operators, particularly in Kenya, have changed the situation, such as the M-Pesa electronic wallet. This approach has been adopted across the continent.

Two countries are leading by example. Ethiopia launched in 2002, a website, the Ethiopian Diaspora Directorate, which identifies investment opportunities in the country for the diaspora members. They are very involved in their home countries, the Ethiopian diaspora the Ethiopian diaspora has invested more than $56 million in the project to build one of Africa’s largest hydroelectric dams, the Great Renaissance. Rwanda launched the Agaciro sovereign solidarity fund in 2012, which has raised €51.5 million in four years.

In fact, African financial success stories are countless. The Dahabshiil remittance network, founded in 1970 in Dubai by Somali businessman Abdirashid Duale, has grown to the size of a multinational… It has more than 2,000 employees in 144 countries. They have the advantage of receiving declared salaries, with pay slips. A good way out of the informal sector, while taking advantage of the huge contribution of migrants, whether on the continent or elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source : The Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development, 2019

Africa Day: Towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa

The commemoration of Africa day allows us as Africans to celebrate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 1963. Indeed this date marks a clear point in the history of our continent, a point at which our founding leaders signalled to the world that Africans were ready to work in solidarity with one another. This is key to our future.

One of the most prominent leaders behind the founding of the OAU, Kwame Nkrumah, is quoted as saying, “The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart”. This still applies now under the Africa Union, where the focus is on addressing not just political but also development and economic challenges, as well as creating current and future opportunities for Africa’s young population.

This year, the AU has decided to strengthen its action towards refugees and displaced persons in order to develop durable solutions for them, focusing on autonomy and resilience. The AU theme for 2019 is “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa’’.

Figures show that sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly half of the 11.8 million new people displaced worldwide by conflict in 2017 alone, according to the International Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC). The most affected country is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 2.2 million new displacements in 2017, out of a total of 4.5 million displaced people. Then come South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.

From the Lake Chad Basin to Somalia, conflicts are most often a primary cause, as are drought and natural disasters. It is too often forgotten that these natural phenomena represent a substantial part (2.6 million in 2017) of the influx of new displaced people on the continent.

The complex issue is of primary concern to the countries that signed the Kampala Convention on the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in 2009, ten years ago. Africa has committed itself to providing responses, since displaced persons are in principle under the responsibility of their country’s authorities. In practice, the UNHCR is also concerned about rescuing them, but faces funding difficulties.

Long-term solutions can be summed up in a few words: conflict prevention, poverty alleviation and anticipation of natural disasters, which are always easier said than done in broad concrete action plans. Nevertheless, good practices were discussed in New York, for instance what has been done in Niger, the first African country to adopt a national law on the protection and assistance of displaced persons in 2018.

It is a good thing that the celebration of Africa Day allows us to continue to reflect on the best way for Africa and its partners to assume their responsibilities. And so as the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD, we would like to convey the best wishes to all Africans across all corners of the world. Together we will win this fight and achieve ‘The Africa We Want.’

Putting Africa’s Secondary Cities First

With Africa urbanizing faster than any other world region, governments there urgently need to craft national development strategies for harnessing the economic benefits that cities can provide. The key will be to focus not just on rapidly expanding megacities, but also on the intermediary cities needed to achieve inclusive growth.

In the latest Mercer Quality of Living City Rankings, the highest-ranked African city, Port Louis, Mauritius, comes in at 83rd out of 231. That appears to be in keeping with a broader pattern: in terms of the quality of life in its cities, Africa lags behind most other world regions.

African cities’ poor showing is a worrying indictment of urban planning on the continent, particularly given that urbanization there is barreling ahead, regardless of whether its leaders have plans in place to manage the process. According to the OECD, because “Africa is projected to have the fastest urban growth rate in the world,” its “cities will be home to an additional 950 million people” by 2050. Given these trends, African policymakers urgently need to make the region’s cities more attractive to international investors, business people, and tourists, while also ensuring that urbanization remains inclusive.

But there is another key trend that has been neglected: the growing importance of Africa’s secondary cities. Urbanization in Africa is not just about emerging megacities like Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Nairobi, Khartoum, Casablanca, and Greater Cairo, which alone will be home to an estimated 38 million people by 2050. Population is also booming in Africa’s “intermediary cities,” which link remote and rural areas to larger urban centers.

Read full article here

Statistics, industrialisation and agricultural revolution, three challenges for the continent: my thoughts on Carlos Lopes’ Africa in Transformation

Africa and the statistical challenge
Africa must invest in the production of better quality data, because the lack of reliable and independent statistical systems can compromise diagnosis and forecasting. Many analyses are distorted by the lack of reliable statistics. Thus, in many countries, the Gross Domestic Product is underestimated, says Carlos Lopes. But if wealth is poorly measured, how can appropriate tax policies be developed? Africa’s ability to pay is undoubtedly diminished. An additional 1% tax effort, which may seem marginal, would nevertheless bring in more than all the public development assistance from industrialized countries! Let’s repeat it because this point is essential: strengthening Africa’s statistical capacity must be a priority, both for individual countries and for the African Union and its related bodies. This was one of the key points of Carlos Lopes’ strategy when he was head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca).

Africa and the industrialisation challenge
Carlos Lopes’ book also provides a reflection on the development model that Africa must adopt to create the conditions for a structural transformation of its economy. Indeed, despite remarkable resilience since the 2008 financial crisis, despite some of the highest average growth rates in the world in the past decade, the continent has not succeeded in creating enough jobs or curbing extreme poverty. The dynamism of its domestic markets, the good performance of its exports and the significant increase in investment flows do not compensate for the lack of genuine industrial policies.

The examples of Brazil from the 1950-1980 period, China, which, after its agricultural revolution, became the world’s factory, and, more recently, Malaysia or the United Arab Emirates show that emergence is inseparable from the industrialization process. Carlos Lopes’ observation is worrying: Africa’s share of world industrial production fell by a quarter between 1980 and 2010, from 1.9% to 1.5%. The author calls for smart protectionism, inspired by the policies implemented in emerging countries, and for a proactive approach by public authorities on this subject. The failure of the industrialisation attempts of the 1960s and 1970s should no longer be used as an excuse for inertia, as contexts and objectives have changed radically.

Africa and the agricultural productivity challenge
It is urgent to change our view of agriculture and recognize that “the farmer is an entrepreneur like any other”, the expression I used in my book Africa’s Critical Choices. It is also the idea forcefully hammered out by Carlos Lopes, which underlines that the challenges of industrialization and the modernization of the agricultural sector are closely linked. While most countries on the continent doubled their average transformation rate after the CAADP was launched in 2003 and agricultural productivity increased by an average of 67%, this rate hides huge disparities. Progress remains insufficient, although Egypt, Ivory Coast, Nigeria or Ghana have performed remarkably well. The average yield of cereal crops in Africa represents only 40% of the average world yield.

Subsistence agriculture on small plots, characterized by very low productivity, remains the dominant mode of production (80%). It does not generate surpluses. Marginalized farmers have limited access to finance and are unable to integrate into the value chain.

However, a paradigm shift is required. African agriculture will have to support the continent’s exponential population growth and rapid urbanization: by 2020, 50% of Africans will live in cities. The agribusiness revolution cannot be postponed any longer and the leaders of this revolution must be those who are today called “smallholder farmers”. 

Press freedom is a cornerstone of our democracies

On the occasion of the 26th World Press Freedom Day, celebrated in Addis Ababa on 2-3 May and jointly organized by the Ethiopian Government, the African Union and UNESCO, it is essential to recall that this day finds its origin on the African continent. It was indeed the Windhoek Declaration of 1991 on the struggle for pluralism and freedom of the media that motivated the United Nations two years later to proclaim May 3 as World Press Freedom Day.

More than ever, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a particular resonance in Africa: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

African media experienced an unprecedented growth in the 1990s, following the end of the Cold War and democratization. This spectacular progress is explained by the rise of a significant movement that has fundamentally led to major institutional reforms such as the creation of various African regulatory bodies and media observatories. The protest movements and the multi-party system have also led to political, socio-economic and institutional transformations, but above all to the rethinking of the role of the media in the countries’ development processes.

This explosion has also taken on a new dimension with the digital age. Information websites have spread everywhere, from Senegal to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), helping to strengthen the “fourth power”. A decisive counter-power in building public opinion that counts, as can be seen from Algeria to South Africa, where leaders are being held accountable for their actions in their countries.

In addition to the place now given to whistleblowers, who have been in Kenya with the Uhashidi open source software ahead of the rest of the world, it is another narrative about itself that the continent has appropriated. A sign of the times: the same dynamic has gripped the capitals of the western world, where websites and television channels dedicated to Africa have sprung up, with a coverage that is both critical and constructive. 

World Press Freedom Day is being celebrated this year in a capital that has become highly symbolic. Ethiopia made a spectacular leap in 2018 in terms of freedom of expression. The country has moved up 40 places in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by the French NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Journalists and bloggers can relay criticisms addressed to the authorities without being disturbed. 

The thousand participants who gathered in Addis Ababa to discuss this year’s theme, “Media for Democracy: Journalists and Elections in Times of Disinformation”, spoke out against the role of social networks and “fake news” in information – a global trend. Reference was made to the persistent obstacles to freedom of information, including the cuts to Internet access in some countries during elections, such as in Benin during the recent parliamentary elections and in the DRC last December.

For this reason, the media environment is still today characterized by many challenges that do not always allow journalists to work in a professional, free and independent way.

A few advice to the Tutu Fellows…

On 29 April, I travelled to Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa to hold a discussion with the 2019 Desmond Tutu Fellows. My book, Africa’s Critical Choices, triggered an engaging discussion and I exhorted the Tutu Fellows to diligently try and link technical solutions to political ones in whatever they do. I gave some of the following examples to illustrate this point: If Fellows, for instance, are working in agriculture, their objective could be to strengthen a farmers’ association, or if they are working in the health domain then it could be linked to nutrition in a community.

I also urged the Fellows to create networks beyond their current domains, as this will allow them to create synergies and have greater impact in society. I also encouraged the young leaders by stating that the incremental changes being effected in the short and medium term will contribute to the long term objectives, thus instilling transformation.

I concluded by saying that the value of any democracy lies in its inherent values of dignity, freedom, and equality which are essential for a democratic system in order to avoid the development of conflict.

Q&A: The African Union Development Agency takes shape

As part of ongoing institutional reforms at the African Union, the implementing arm of its development strategy — formerly known as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency, or NEPAD — is transforming into the African Union Development Agency, or AUDA.

AUDA will continue NEPAD’s overall mandate of transforming Africa through enhanced knowledge sharing, partnerships, and resource mobilization, along with promoting high-impact projects that align with the AU’s overall continental development frameworks, but will also expand on this agenda, AUDA-NEPAD CEO Ibrahim Mayaki told Devex.

“Our main focus now as a development agency will be to move to the formulation of development tools that can strengthen the capacity of all African stakeholders to better execute priority development projects,” Mayaki said.

Drafted at the 2018 AU summit as part of larger institutional and financial reforms championed by then-Commissioner Paul Kagame, AUDA officially adopted its mandate and launched at the 2019 AU summit earlier this month. Mayaki said the transformation will allow the Johannesburg-based body to improve its effectiveness and efficiency in delivering AU development policies and programs across its 55 member countries.

Devex spoke with Mayaki to learn more about the ongoing changes.

Read full article here

My message at the SOAS African Development Forum ‏ 2019

Good morning, everyone,

Thank you for this invitation, which honours me. It is always a great pleasure for me to return to university, where I spent many of the best years of my life either learning or giving back what I had been taught.

Today, I come to you as a development practitioner.

In particular, I would like to speak about the challenges facing the development of our continent, particularly from the perspective of “in.security”, the theme of this year’s Forum, which must be understood in a broader sense.

I would like to start with the extraordinary events that have marked African politics this week. I am thinking in particular of the Algerian situation. President Bouteflika’s decision is remarkable in many respects.

This decision should be welcomed and I wish the Algerian people the best possible outcome, as they have demonstrated their full political maturity during these demonstrations. We know the crucial role that students have played in these peaceful protests.

For the past two or three years, I have been saying that 90% of the African Heads of State we know today will no longer be here in ten years’ time. My forecast is more palatable with each election, or each renewal of the political offer. And there have been many of them in Africa in recent years.

Democracy will keep progressing at the pace of youth. By definition, future transitions bring renewal, but they can also be sources of instability, insecurity…

These changes are taking place at a time when Africa is experiencing a pivotal period in its globalization. The world is awakening to the importance of our continent, which will be home to one in four human in 2050, just 30 years from now. The theories of “Africa rising” have given way to a new formula, the “New scramble for Africa”.

This new formula seems more accurate than the previous one. In any case, it allows us to better reflect the original path that a sovereign Africa can take, free of its choices and courted by foreign powers and companies from all over the world.

Let me emphasize five general principles that combine economics and politics and that I believe are some of the keys to ensuring that the tremendous changes facing Africa go down well.

To be accepted by the peoples, it is my intimate conviction that the “technocratic” reforms we must undertake should reflect a political vision shared by as many people as possible, in this case the youth of our countries.

This is particularly true in the context of our demographic challenge and keeping in mind the hundreds of millions of young Africans who will reach working age in the next 15 years.

First, I would like to address the issue of the co-production of public policies as the basis for all major decisions that will impact populations. All recent events show how much the question is not so much which elegant technical solution to choose as which one will win the support of the populations.

Institutional and legislative systems in Africa suffer from a major and poorly studied weakness: the lack of public consultation. Citizens are called upon to vote every five years on slogans rather than programmes whose details are, in any case, rarely revealed to them.

The aim is not to establish a hypothetical “direct democracy”, but to increase the forms and channels of citizen participation in public life in Africa. This would be a kind of “institutional syncretism”, with regard to the definition and implementation of public policies.

To do this, we must draw on our tradition and return to the sources of the palaver tree or the indaba. South Africa has invented truth and reconciliation commissions, Rwanda has invented “gacaca” courts… We have the ability to increase public involvement and adherence in the major decisions that affect us.

It is about creating spaces in which people are informed, consulted and involved in the selection and implementation of the main projects that are supposed to ensure and promote their well-being – this is the goal, after all, of democracy.

We need to formulate our diagnosis in our own terms. It is the lack of a proper diagnosis that has too often been the main cause for the failure of development policies attempted throughout Africa – and the resulting lack of ownership.

How can we make a relevant diagnosis if we are not able to listen to our populations?

Secondly, we must recognize that the optimal responses to our major challenges lie at the regional and national levels, following an integrated approach. African States must learn to work together within the major regions, which in turn should be able to integrate them.

I note with optimism that the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s visit to Kenya has made it possible to relaunch the idea of LAPSSET, a first-rate regional corridor project that should make it possible to open up an immense region and increase trade between these two great East African nations.

Regional cooperation is not based on a romantic vision of the continent or an ignorance of economic realities. On the contrary, it is precisely because of these economic realities that we must defend the virtues of consultation.

Beyond the obvious benefits of infrastructure sharing, regional cooperation is essential to combat or strengthen other aspects of African development.

This applies to the negotiation of external trade agreements, the establishment of regional stock exchanges (East Africa is leading the way with the agricultural segment of the Kigali Stock Exchange), common rules for different professions, the accreditation of diplomas, the harmonization of qualifications, etc.

In addition to the benefits of economies of scale resulting from the pooling of training efforts, the mutual recognition, at the regional level, of diplomas obtained in African countries has the advantage of better anchoring populations, encouraging geographical mobility, and therefore competition, and, consequently, remuneration levels.

These are just a few examples.

Third, we must think about how private interests can profitably participate in new challenges. I am thinking in particular of the way in which agri-food companies, with the resources they have, can really participate in the professionalization and emergence of a class of agri-entrepreneurs in Africa.

Africa, with nearly 60% of its population still rural, offers the opportunity to experiment with new methods. This remains a challenge and a challenge for many of you, but I believe that some international actors in the agri-food sector are becoming aware of the need to change their production model and see Africa as an opportunity to develop original models in agreement with the populations.

The development of a quality agri-food industry will have beneficial spillover effects on key sectors of the economy. Indeed, beyond production, the whole sector would benefit – processing industries, harvesters, producers and distributors, would be boosted by a better organisation of the food sector.

Fourthly, I believe in the wider use of new technologies to identify our citizens and to bring a political identity to as many people as possible. Not only for better statistical management or demographic representativeness, but also to grant access to social services (payments of aid from the State) through a dedicated account.

This financial identity, whose development will accelerate with a constantly increasing rate of smartphone equipment, will have unimaginable effects on the informal sector.

It should be recalled that the informal sector is an essential component of most sub-Saharan economies, where its contribution to GDP ranges from 25% to 65% and where it represents between 30% and 90% of non-agricultural employment.

If the informal sector were organized more efficiently, it could greatly improve the lot of hundreds of millions of our fellow citizens. So far, the informal sector has not diminished in importance with economic growth. On the contrary, it has tended to grow faster than the rest of the economy.

New technologies offer us an opportunity to create the link between two almost parallel economic worlds, the formal and the informal. The combination of the living forces of the informal sector with the almost organic capacity of new technologies to connect and organize a new economic interaction can trigger the economic take-off of our continent.

Finally, allow me to say a few words on the more general question of aid. Aid is by definition transitional, to help overcome a difficult period. When it demonstrates to private capital that investment is profitable, it has finished playing its role.

I think that the public assistance as we know it, the one that comes from developed countries to countries of the “South”, will no longer exist in ten years’ time. This public aid is nowadays directed less and less towards health or education… and more and more towards security and migration issues. This is no longer the classic form of aid we tend to imagine.

Another sign of this “New Scramble for Africa” is that all recent G7 and G20 meetings highlight the role of the private sector, European, American and Japanese, in development projects and in the form of public-private partnerships. Africa must realize that aid is over. Donors, who were at the centre of development policies twenty years ago, are no longer there.

Let us realize that this aid is much less, at least twice as less as what the continent receives in remittances from the diaspora. If we compare aid flows, $25 billion, with illicit financial flows, more than $50 billion according to the ECA, we realize that, if we did our work through better tax, customs and customs management systems, we would not need this assistance. Similarly, if we succeed in being serious about our internal resource mobilization mechanisms…

It is in this spirit that the founding fathers of NEPAD, and more broadly of the entire pan-African institutional architecture, a generation which, with Mr. Bouteflika’s decision, has now finished giving way to the next one, is to ensure that Africa speaks with one voice to all its partners, to give it a more influential voice in the debates.

With the importance we are gaining in the concert of nations, I am indeed rather optimistic about the future of our continent.

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to share these few thoughts with you. I hope that they will be useful to you in your future professional and personal choices.

 

Africa needs to achieve its infrastructure “big push”

In Africa, we often talk about the opportunities offered by “leapfrog”, these technological leaps that will allow the continent to develop more rapidly by learning from the experiences of other countries and by adopting new technologies more quickly. But if there is one step that Africa will not be able to skip, it is infrastructure. Because, despite its openness to the outside world, with a coastline oriented towards the export of raw materials to industrialized countries, the continent remains the most marginal region in world trade… and the least integrated within its own borders, with inter-African trade barely exceeding 13% of sub-Saharan Africa’s total foreign trade.

It is estimated that the “gap” in terms of infrastructure investment in Africa stands between $130 billion and $170 billion per year. Filling it would allow an annual increase of 2.6% in average per capita income, according to the World Bank – a very rapid jump in growth. Access to electricity, that only 43% of households have access to, is at the top of the list, along with access to drinking water and transport infrastructure. Connecting cities and regions by road, rail and air is no longer just a matter of necessity. Amplified by rapid urbanization, these needs also represent enormous opportunities, which contribute to making Africa one of the last frontiers of growth in the world.

A global awareness happened in the 2000s. Responses commensurate with the challenges were sought. The Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) was launched in 2005 to support regional projects. Fueled by several donor countries, this fund has made it possible to complete the financing of 30 projects, totalling $24 billion. Building on this success, Africa decided to go further in 2012 with its Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), launched at the initiative of the African Union Commission (AU), NEPAD, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the regional economic communities. In view of the diversity of national, regional and international initiatives, synergy between the AU Commission and the regional economic communities is central.

Today, through the “5% Agenda”, we want to mobilize a gigantic and almost “natural” source of financing: African pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. We estimate that African institutional investors hold more than $1.1 trillion. For the time being, these funds are invested in ultra-secure assets such as US government bonds or, ironically enough, European roads and airports.

How can we expect foreign investors to come to invest in us if we do not invest ourselves in our future? We suggest that these African pension funds and sovereign wealth funds invest at least 5% of their assets under management to close the infrastructure financing gap in Africa. That would be about $55 billion. Today, with the establishment in the United States of the Development Finance Corporation – whose objective is to de-risk the financing of institutional investors, particularly towards Africa – Africa must seize the opportunity to lead the way. This is why an African Infrastructure Guarantee Facility (AIGM) is being developed with the African Development Bank (AfDB). As far as infrastructure is concerned, we are not advocating for a leapfrog, but for a “big push”!

To succeed, pan-Africanism must switch from ideal to pragmatism

Former Prime Minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, is the Executive Secretary of NEPAD, the African Union’s Development Agency. He tells Marie Hourtoule from The Parliament Magazine that there is an inextricable link between the quality and robustness of Africa’s institutions and its prosperity. This interview was first published in The Parliament Magazine March 2019 issue.

Marie Hourtoule: NEPAD is set to become the AU’s Development Agency. What changes will this involve?

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki: The pan-African idea is not a new one. It was supported by the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), at the forefront of whom was Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. The original version of pan-Africanism had a single aim: the decolonisation of the continent. The emancipation of the last Portuguese colonies in 1975, the accession of Namibia to international sovereignty in March 1990 and the abolition of the Apartheid Regime in June 1991 signalled the triumph of the pan-African idea as an ideology of liberation.

Yet in a sense, this achievement deprived the OAU of its raison d’être; it then had to redirect its attention elsewhere and overcome internal disagreements. At the turn of the millennium, the idea of an “African Renaissance” emerged, under the impetus of personalities such as South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo, Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Senegal’s Abdoulaye Wade. The transformation of the OAU into the African Union (AU), launched at the 2002 Durban Summit, laid the foundations for “pragmatic pan-Africanism”.

During the same period, NEPAD was set up to achieve economic, alongside Africa’s political, independence, by adopting an innovative approach and reconciling public sector planning and private sector investment. Today, 17 years later, the transformation of NEPAD into the African Union’s Development Agency, a technical organisation with its own articles of association and its own legal identity, marks a significant strengthening of this pragmatic ambition. Prompted by a special recommendation in the report by President Paul Kagamé, this change will take effect in 2019 at the next AU summit. We look forward to this transformation, as it will enable us to implement more effectively our development programmes for our continent.

MH: Do you think the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme can succeed?

IAM: Development in Africa will not be possible until its agriculture has undergone significant change. Don’t forget that agriculture provides 60 percent of Africa’s jobs and 25 percent of its GDP.The Comprehensive Africa

Agriculture Development Programme is an important part of NEPAD and one of its pillars. NEPAD provides AU member states with support for its implementation, through close collaboration with the AU Commission and the various Regional Economic Communities. This programme aims to achieve at least a 10 percent increase in public investment in agriculture and at least a 6 percent increase in farming productivity. We are still some way off this goal, as over half the member states have not achieved these targets.

NEPAD recently launched the African partnership platform for the environment in Nairobi, with the aim of producing a road-map for the development of sustainable agriculture. We need to work together, to mobilise our resources, develop agricultural technology and increase productivity, without losing sight of food security. Inclusivity must be our watchword.

MH: In your latest book, you write that there are not enough countries with institutions able to confront the challenges facing Africa. Can you expand on this?

IAM: Our continent is faced with enormous challenges, starting with population growth and climate change. The African workforce is set to rise to 880 million people by 2050. This figure alone gives some insight into what we are facing. As the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Mélès Zenawi – one of the most remarkable personalities I have met – used to say, “analyse your problems in your own terms”. This lack of an appropriate analytical approach has been the basic reason for the failure of development policies attempted in various African countries. It is the failure to take ownership. The same applies to our institutions. It is not enough to replicate foreign institutions; they have to be adapted to the conditions in Africa, to our resources, both human and material. The outcome is not inevitable. Botswana and the Central African Republic, two states similar in many ways, were in similar positions forty years ago. However, both have followed very different paths. The institutions play a decisive role. It will take Africa about ten years to establish sound institutions that will provide a basis for its future progress.

It is one of the tragedies of our continent is that our best minds eschew politics and the public realm. It is not my place to point the finger at particular countries or situations. I ask for a clear-sighted examination and consideration of how we can make up for the shortcomings of our institutions. The World Bank’s latest assessment of public policy and institutions in Africa showed a drop in the quality of policies and institutions in sub-Saharan Africa. This was particularly marked in those countries exporting raw materials and in fragile states. By contrast, the countries that have sound institutions are those demonstrating the greatest economic resilience. This supports my belief that there is an inextricable link between the quality and robustness of the institutions and prosperity.