Africa should stop the outdated pattern of exporting raw materials and primary goods to feed industries of the developed world, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Acting Executive Secretary Abdalla Hamdok said.
Exporting finished products would help Africa empower its people by eradicating some of the challenges it is currently facing, in particular unemployment and poverty, Hamdok said at the opening of the 2017 Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD).
“It is high time that the continent really changed this outdated model which we inherited from colonial rule, of continuing to export raw materials and primary commodities.
“Africa has to take a bold decision and say to itself ‘stop exporting raw materials’. We have to add value to our commodities and that is the surest way of creating decent jobs, addressing unemployment and related issues,” he emphasized.
If the continent is to successfully implement Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, he said, African countries should reject the economic model that benefits outsiders more than local populations.
Mr. Hamdok suggested that African countries should take advantage of the ongoing protectionism debate in the West and concentrate on increasing trade and investments among themselves for the betterment their people.
“Many have seen this as an alarming signal but I see it as an opportunity which will allow us to develop our intra-Africa trade,” he said.
Describing every ARFSD as a stark reminder that the clock ticks very fast for the continent, Mr. Hamdok said: “We have a narrow window of opportunity to march boldly towards reducing poverty. The challenge is huge but the opportunities for transformational development are limitless.”
Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister, Seleshi Bekele Awulachew, said the theme of the meeting, ‘Ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity for all’, would be rendered meaningless if the continent failed to addressing its own vulnerabilities.
“Inclusiveness, citizen participation, peace and security are key pillars to the achievement of the development agendas,” said Mr. Bekele, adding that good governance and leadership were crucial ingredients to a peaceful and prosperous Africa.
Meanwhile, the African Union Commission’s Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Athony Mothae Maruping, told the meeting that the AUC, working with its partners, was doing its best to ensure Member States domesticate Agendas 2030 and 2063.
He said partnerships with the outside world should be in the context of the two agendas.
Africa can only grow if it empowered its youth and women and invested in the necessary infrastructure, Mr. Maruping said, noting that Agenda 2063 of the African Union seeks to achieve accelerated, stable, inclusive and real economic job-creating growth in Africa.
“Africa knows what it wants, what should be done to get it or to get there and with what to get there and when to get there,” said Mr. Maruping. “There’s coherence, consistency and alignment in Africa. We just have to stand up and implement both agendas.”