Africa’s development agenda must focus on the socio-cultural and commercial interests of Africans and the upliftment of Africa’s trade and economic ecosystem, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II has said.
The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said this during his address at the 2018 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank Group in Busan, Korea.
“Africa’s economic transformation will be best achieved through fast-tracking regional cooperation and the execution of hard-nosed structural reforms that focus on the development of the continent’s human capital and material resources,” he said.
According to a statement, the Emir shared insight about revamping African regional integration, trade and economic relations with Executive Directors and Governors of the Bank, comprising Finance, Budget and Economic Planning Ministers from member nations.
Sanusi traced Africa’s post-colonial economic woes to the continent’s fiscal indiscipline and endemic disregard for its competitive advantages. For these reasons, he asserted, Africa’s development was stunted and its global trade ties lopsided in favour of offshore trading partners.
“Nine out of every 10 countries in Africa have huge trade deficits with China, but Asia developed mostly on domestic investments and resources,” he noted, underscoring the need for African governments to invest in and promote creativity and indigenous enterprise.
The Emir advocated a series of structural reforms, including strategic investments in key sectors including agriculture, infrastructure, education, and small and medium enterprises.
He called for deliberate industrial diversification, noting that China hadbegun to move its mega-sized manufacturing capabilities out of low-cost industries.
African Governments also need to eradicate constitutional provisions and structures that increase the cost of governance at national and sub-national levels, manage demographic growth, and revamp and harmonise moribund and ineffective customs and excise duties that promote cross-border smuggling and revenue losses to governments, he said.
Africa’s debt burden continues to inhibit capital investment in industrialisation, he observed, lamenting the misallocation of resources.
“We need to begin to ask ourselves, ‘what do we do with the available funds in our coffers?’”
“Perceptions matter. So, there is an urgent need for improved transparency, as this is clearly linked to good governance,” he said. “We need to accept that we have a perception problem that we must address. We need to tackle corruption, block leakages and create opportunities for new jobs.”
On trade, the Emir called for a regional and pan-African approach to trade negotiations, a tactical model which should be led by the AfDB.
“The African Development Bank has the intellectual resources and clearly is better positioned to negotiate with China on behalf of Africa as a bloc of nations,” he said. “Europe approached global trade as a bloc so why can’t African nations do the same?”