Despite the immense social and economic potential prevailing in Africa, the continent will have to reposition itself in a number of fronts to sustainably transform the livelihoods of close to 1.2 billion residents.
That was the underlying metre in a panel-discussion hosted by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Wednesday July 19, 2016.
The Panellists who were drawn from academia, industry and non-governmental organizations threshed out opportunities, key challenges and viable solutions to Africa’s development.
Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Executive Vice President, Dr. Katsumi Hirano believes Africa needs to innovate its agriculture sector to increase food productivity and cushion the continent from hunger and poverty in the wake of population explosion.
Matched with commensurate emphasis on industrialization, Hirano said, the continent could strike a balance and reduce export of raw materials that currently stands at 60%.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga said, the key to unlocking Africa’s potential lies in its ability to equip the women and youth with quality education, skills and competencies. She added that the continent equally needs to diversify beyond extractive industry and tap into the abundant marine resources.
Another key plank identified for the continent’s transformative agenda is adoption of Information Communication Technologies. Safaricom’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Stephen Chege urged Africa to raise digital natives who can effectively leverage on modern ICT tools for greater inclusion and integration.
Head of Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement at University of Stellenbosch Business School, Prof. Brian Ganson urged for a framework for dispute resolution; taking into cognizance of the many upheavals bedevilling the continent.
But even more pressing, Prof. Ganson noted, was the need for Africa to think about a development model that takes care of its unique attributes and not necessarily fall for attractively tagged models from the West.
On the international trade front, Leeko Makoene, CEO of the South African organization, Made with Rural, challenged the continent to look inwards for markets instead of being obsessed with exports to other continents.
The panel-discussion themed: The Key to Development in Africa: Towards Sustainable, Inclusive Growth; was organized by Japan’s Broadcasting Corporation ahead of the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to be staged for the first time in Africa on 27th -28th August 2016. The event to be held in Nairobi, Kenya seeks to promote high-level policy dialogue among African countries and international organizations, partner countries, private companies and civil society organizations towards sustainable development, peace and security in Africa.
Africa is endowed with a youthful population that is increasingly skilled, abundant natural resources and is seen as huge market for finished products from the West and other emerging economies.
The continent has registered significant economic growth in the last decade with poverty threshold coming down. However, the gap between Africa’s rich and poor continues to widen; calling for new strategies to foster sustainable and inclusive growth and development.