My message at the conference “Rethinking Development in Africa” at Columbia University | SIPA

On 27 September 2019, I had the opportunity to share my opinion and vision on the key issues that will drive the debate on Africa’s development during a conference organized by Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs under the theme: “Rethinking Development in Africa“.

I address covered the following areas: Africa’s transitions versus policies; governance versus policies; global uncertainties versus Africa’s uncertainties, and; reflections on rethinking development.

It is not prudent to continue to view ‘development’ in traditional paradigms, considering that ‘development’ itself requires new thinking in order for real transformation to take place, given the present conditions.

In fact, the critical transitions that are taking place on the continent include demographic, technological, natural systems, climate change, governance systems as well as human development transitions. None of these transitions can be dealt with independently, and moreover, the transitions make it difficult for youths in the development space, who already predominantly have a negative perception on the delivery of policymakers. Therefore, policymakers need to understand these transitions fully and prepare adequately.

Power relations have changed fundamentally, meaning governance systems are inadequate, which cannot be changed in a top down manner. Therefore, the inadequacy of governance systems makes power irrelevant, as it has been shown recently in several countries on the continent.  There is therefore a shift in power from centralised power to more local governance systems and local communities.

Furthermore, governance could strengthen its credibility with renewed and innovative forms of governance as is the case of a country such as Botswana, which has inclusivity as a strong trait in its governance system. Inclusivity is therefore an absolute and essential component in rethinking development unlike was the case years ago.

With regards global uncertainties and Africa’s uncertainties, it was observed that aid, which was a strong component in Africa’s development agendas, is now disappearing, with the role of the multilateral system being questioned. In addition, an agenda on global sustainable development that must be applied by all countries shows that Africa is lagging behind.

However, Africa is now looking at its own regional and internal markets through the African Continental Free Trade Area, meaning that even at the current time of global uncertainty, a great opportunity for Africa exists. The fragmentation of African countries necessitates that the continent implements regional solutions for national challenges, and the strengthening of regional and internal markets to restore credibility of national governments.

Some of Africa’s uncertainties include the fact that in the next eight years or so, most of the incumbent African presidents will no longer be here, paving the way for new leaders who will emerge out of democratic processes. Therefore, the youth will have a stronger role to play in the continent’s new political administrations. However, the uncertainty is whether the new leaders will emerge through sound democratic foundations or through populist solutions, or even whether they will emerge out of an increased level of conflicting scenarios.

In conclusion, I reflected on rethinking development, stating that the best way to include youths in Africa’s development framework, Agenda 2063, is to let them be a part of its design and implementation.

A change of paradigm is there needed in the co-production of public policies. Africa will need to reinvent its governance systems with the empowering of local communities and implementation of regional solutions. In addition, the way people identify with development policy, is the extent to which they feel that their dignity is being upheld. Moreover, rethinking development also means rethinking justice systems.

Belinda Archibong, Assistant Professor of Economics at Columbia University, a discussant at the address, commented that Africa does not really need to develop on aid, but more on trade. She also noted that another critical area is in the closure of the youth participation gap in governance systems.

Akbar Noman, Adjunct Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, also a discussant said, “The importance of the transitions highlighted by Dr Mayaki, especially the one on demographics, projecting what will be needed in the labour force and its nexus with climate change, is important in answering the question on the generation of employment.”

Here you will find the full video of the « Rethinking Development in Africa » conference at Columbia University | SIPA on Friday, September 27 in New York 

Global warming is at the core of the African Union Development Agency’s priorities

AUDA-NEPAD integrates the fight against global warming into a global perspective of the continent’s economic development.

The latest United Nations Climate Summit highlighted the differences in approach between polluting countries, major industrial powers and countries suffering the consequences, particularly those in Africa. AUDA-NEPAD, in its DNA, has this environmental dimension.

Since its creation, we have constantly integrated into each of our programs, the sustainability and protection of our biodiversity. Since October 2001, with the launch of the Environment Initiative, mechanisms have been put in place to combat global warming, such as combating land degradation, wetland conservation, the sustainable conservation and use of marine and coastal resources, and the cross-border conservation and management of natural resources.

AUDA-NEPAD is committed to the implementation of Agenda 2063, which sets out a common continental strategic framework to promote inclusive growth and support sustainable development. We will not wait 50 years to act. The first deadline is therefore 2023.

“This illustration of the objectives to be achieved by 2023 shows the African Union’s commitment to building environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient economies and communities, as called for in Goal 7 of Agenda 2063.”

The protection of biodiversity, the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, water security and renewable energies: for each of these challenges, strong proposals have been adopted, enabling States to draw up a clear and quantified roadmap. In concrete terms, by 2023, the proportion of land used in an eco-sustainable manner must reach at least 30% of the total. Transboundary natural resources will now have to be integrated as natural capital in the negotiations. Water security requires better management of rainwater and irrigation, including the promotion of the use of recycled wastewater for agricultural or industrial purposes. In addition, we will support all actions to reduce the share of fossil fuels in total energy production to minus 20% and to increase the share of renewable energies in total energy production by at least 10%.

This illustration of the objectives to be achieved by 2023 shows the African Union’s commitment to building environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient economies and communities, as called for in Goal 7 of Agenda 2063.

To support these initiatives, all public and private funding mechanisms will be involved. At the national level, between 75% and 90% of the financing of Agenda 2063 will be done through the mobilisation of domestic resources. At the continental level, the African Development Bank has already announced a doubling of its financial commitments for climate action, bringing its contribution to $25 billion between 2020 and 2025.

Spending on climate change adaptation measures is not a sunk cost. According to the latest report of the United Nations World Commission on Adaptation, investing $1.8 billion in these measures could generate $7.1 billion in benefits between 2020 and 2030. The United Nations thus confirms that the antagonism between economic development and the fight against global warming is no longer economically justified.

In this regard, the African Union Development Agency continues its efforts by continuing to innovate in strategic growth-generating sectors while meeting its responsibilities in addressing the global challenges of mitigating the effects of global warming and adapting to these changes.

Q&A: The African Union’s first ever Development Agency

Question: Please take us through the journey that the led to the creation of the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD.

Dr Ibrahim Mayaki: The African Union Assembly of July 2018 approved the establishment of AUDA-NEPAD as the technical executive agency and development anchor of the continent with its distinct legal identity and defined by its own statute, to deliver on the development priorities articulated by the African Union. Its establishment is part of the overall institutional reforms of the African Union. 

At the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government in Nouakchott, Mauritania, a decision was officially adopted to transform the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency into the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

The vision of AUDA-NEPAD is to ‘Harness knowledge to deliver the Africa we want.’ The mission of the organisation is to provide a platform for African countries in order to ensure the effective and integrated planning, coordination and implementation of programmes and projects aimed economic integration and development, and embracing of AUDA-NEPAD’s principles and values.

Read the full article here.

Positive discrimination in favour of major African companies is needed

What concrete changes will result from the transformation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development into an AUDA?

The agency has autonomy of execution and freedom to mobilise resources, for example, with advisory services to states and regional organisations. Thus, the African Union Commission is delegated certain tasks of implementing development policy and will be able to focus on political orientation, governance, peace, security [and so on].

Read the full interview on Africa report website.

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

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

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

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”!

High-speed trains no longer wait in Africa

High-speed rail has made significant inroads across the continent. A 300 km line between Tangier and Casablanca was inaugurated in Morocco in November 2018 and the journey now takes two hours instead of six, with only a moderate increase in ticket price. Since 2016, the 200 km journey from Abuja to Kaduna in Northern Nigeria can be completed in one hour. Other routes are now being planned for example between Kaduna and Kano or Kano and Lagos. While economic gains are expected, social and political impact will also be visible. Via these infrastructure developments, inequalities between northern regions that have historically been perceived as neglected and oil-rich southern areas will be reduced.

 The Gautrain, which was launched in 2010 between Johannesburg International Airport and Pretoria is another example of dynamism in that sector. This high-speed line, which raised some controversy at its announcement now carries 100 000 passengers a day. It has strongly reduced daily traffic jams in Gauteng province, the industrial heart of South Africa.

 Africa’s economic integration depends first and foremost on its transport infrastructure, which is still influenced by the planning policies of the colonial era. There are too few highways between countries and too few trains, out of Africa’s 90,000 km of rail network, to cross borders. The network linking Uganda to Tanzania, Ethiopia to Djibouti or South Africa to Zimbabwe remains the exception rather than the rule. Entering the 21st century, railway use remains focused on the transport of goods and raw materials between the coast and the hinterland as was the case decades ago. This situation must change, so that Africa can finally trade internally on a larger scale.

 The African Integrated High Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), one of the flagship projects of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, is one step in the right direction. The modernisation and extension of rail networks will not be possible without the use of technologies, a key element of modern “intelligent” transport. Africa has already demonstrated a spectacular ability to “leapfrog” in the digital sector as proven by the number of mobile phone users and mobile banking customers. It could be the same in railways, where the continent would directly move on to the use of advanced technologies in transportation.

This week’s first African Digital Rail Summit in Cape Town, organized by NEPAD and the International Union of Railways (IUC), identified major projects, suggested a few steps for a way forward and revitalized the dynamic in the African Union of Railways (UAC).