New Publication: 'Reflections on Africa’s development' tackles key themes in Janneh's honor
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ECA Press Release 139/2012

Addis Ababa, 31 August 2012 (ECA) – A new publication entitled Reflections on Africa’s Development: Essays in honor of Abdoulie Janneh was launched last week, Thursday, during a seminar themed: Africa in a Changing Global Economy.  The collection of essays pulls together many of the ideas that became the hallmark of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) under the leadership of the outgoing Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh.

With a forward by outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, the 250 pages of essays tackle three main strategies for Africa’s economic development: regional integration, sustainable growth; and good governance from a variety of opinions penned by ECA current and former staff.

Joseph Atta-Mensah, Director, Office of Programme Management argues that regional integration offers the most credible strategy for tackling Africa’s internal and external development challenges. A thorough assessment of integration performance at the national, regional and continental levels is needed, he posits in his opening chapter, Africa’s Regional Integration Agenda. He proposes the expansion of opportunities for investment and transformation of Africa’s production structures that increase African incomes and tap unexploited resources. This, he says, would reduce dependence on the outside world and create conditions for self-sustained autonomous development.

Adebayo Olukoshi Director, United Nations African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) presents a retrospective assessment of the contemporary efforts at promoting an agenda of integration on the African continent with a reflection on future prospects. In his essay, The African Union and African Integration: Retrospect and prospect, he traces the integration agenda from its highly contested ‘pre-colonial agglomeration of political communities,’ through to the structural limits presented by the post-independence era and the years of structural adjustment programmes that sped up the continent’s already failing cooperation and integration schemes.  The establishment of the AU is not fraught with challenges such as the dissonance within the subregional RECs, which remain fragmented and overlap of institutional mandates.  Integration concludes Olukoshi, is a political decision that individual sovereign states must support – “a matter of how best to secure national interest in a world where the sovereignty of less
powerful states is assailed on a daily basis.

Abdoulie Janneh, outgoing Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA sheds light on the status of Africa’s infrastructure and the initiatives for infrastructure development in his chapter, Financing Africa’s Infrastructure. He notes that the price tag for developing Africa’s infrastructure is around US$93 billion a year according to the World Bank’s Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic 2010. He proposes a number of possible sources of resources to fund Africa’s infrastructure projects, including sovereign funds, an African infrastructure fund, infrastructure indexed bonds, among others. He also outlines a number of priority projects to connect African countries with each other, facilitate intra-African trade, open up the regions and countries to tourism, facilitating longer-term diversification of African economies and enabling the continent to benefit from its natural endowments. He concludes with policy recommendations in this regard, including the need for a developmental state approach to structural change.

Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade Divison, and Malcolm Spence, former ECA consultant in Making international trade work for poverty reduction argue that trade and industrial policy should endeavor to safeguard the poor while ensuring they are not isolating the benefits international trade has to offer. The chapter tackles a number of ideas that point to the complexity of transposing prescription s from the East Asian miracle. It presents a case for export diversification and policy interventions.  It also notes that poverty reduction requires sensitivity to existing activities in agriculture and extractive industries.  A ‘market-friendly developmental state’ can support pro-poor trade reform in Africa.

The chapter on Mineral resources governance for development in Africa shows that Africa is a dominant global player in the commodity market. The chapter calls for reform of the extractive industries sector to improve governance. The African Mining Vision presents an opportunity to address the lack of linkages between the sector and the development aspirations of countries, note its authors, Antonio Pedro, Director of the ECA Eastern Africa Subregional Office based in Kigali, Rwanda; Wilfred Lombe, Chief, Infrastructure and Natural Resources Development section at the ECA and Yohannes Hailu, Economic Affairs Officer, Subregional Office for Eastern Africa.

Emmanuel Nnadozie, Director, Economic Development and NEPAD Division chapter on argues that growth does not always lead to development and that it will not lead to development in Africa in the absence of conscious action by the Government. In his chapter, Transforming Economic Growth into Sustainable Development in Africa, he outlines the failure of past policies and examines Africa’s experience arguing that externally generated policies and internal policy failures prevented the continent’s economic take off. He provides an overview of the sources of growth and sheds light on what is needed in terms of strategies, policies institutional resources.

Hakim Ben Hamouda, a former ECA Director, who is currently serving as Special Adviser to the President, African Development Bank looks at the consensus in new development economics, in his chapter, World Crises and the Return of Structural Studies in Development. He addresses the impact of the global crisis on the poor and the vulnerable, in light of the struggle to preserve state legitimacy, noting that new thinking is reviving the return for the developmental state, particularly in light of the rejection by the Asian countries of the Washington Consensus and the growth and development results these countries achieved. He tackles the return of the State and industrial policies, which he argues brings to the equation, the role of markets.

Abdalla Hamdok, ECA Deputy Executive Secretary and Said Adejumobi, ECA Director, of the Governance and Public Administration Division, present emerging governance concerns from a political economy view point in their chapter, Governance and Development in Africa: Issues, Debates and ECA’s Strategic Choices. Development needs to advance “the frontiers of political and social progress on which economic advancement rests,” they underscore. The chapter presents the choices ECA has made in order to advance this idea, such as the work undertaken in the biennial African Governance Report and the need for building capable states that can facilitate good governance, which they note, is central to achieving sustainable development in Africa.

Adeyemi Dipeolu, Chief of Staff at the ECA argues that developmental states as the means through which the Continent can build on its potential to be a global growth pole has gained prominence. In his chapter, Adapting in an Uncertain World: Scope for Policy Space in an Era of Globalization, he argues that policy makers need to take into account the shrinking policy space and the changes in the global economic environment since the developmental states of East Asia and to some extent, Latin America underwent transformation. He notes that governments find themselves caught in a policy space that does not give much room to choose the best mix of policies for achieving sustainable and equitable economic development. Emphasizing the need to learn from the Asian tigers, he calls for smart industrial policies and national strategic visioning and national planning, regional integration, among others.

The essays pull the 3 key ideas together in 7 chapters and argue by and large, that Africa continues to make progress in its development agenda; but it must sustain its current levels growth in a manner that is sustainable and in ways that this growth can translate into jobs and meet the aspirations of its people. It emphasizes macro-economic stability, boosting domestic savings, and promoting private investment as ‘critical and necessary to sustain growth’.  Governance, regional integration and attention to human development and the sustainable management of its natural and environmental resources are core to advancing Africa’s development agenda.  Adequate policy responses are needed and partnerships and the comparative advantage of working with various organizations run through the essays as a recurrent theme.


The publication is available for download online as an e-book at www.uneca.org.

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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa