“Indeed African Governments Have a Key Role as a Partner to the Bank in Achieving Inclusive Growth” - Mthuli Ncube

05/04/2012
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How would the African Development Bank Group, in practical terms, want African governments to embrace “Inclusive growth?” Have Africans taken ownership of the theme and what it the current status and future prospects one year after the Tunisian revolution?

“Some issues linked to inclusive growth, such as voice and accountability are political in nature and need to be handled politically by national governments. However, the Bank Group needs to continue paying more attention to wider access issues linked to its infrastructure and economic development projects and programs. In addition, if the Bank is more innovative in its higher education focus area, it may be able to help improve the necessary employment outlook, if Africa is to benefit from the demographic dividend. Also, there may be some occasions where African governments could look at supporting the types of conditional cash transfer and anti-poverty operations that appear to have worked well in other regions of the developing world.”

Contributing to the debate on: “Tunisia, one year after the revolution”, the Chief Economist and Vice-president of the African Development Bank Group, Mthuli Ncube, expressed these views. He affirmed: “Inclusive growth includes political, economic structural transformation, regional, financial inclusion, and infrastructure and procurement arrangements.”

In the economic and political point of view, the Chief Economist stressed that there may be an expectation that the Bank should begin to support institutions that promote voice and accountability.

He recalled that January 14, 2011’s event was a wakeup call on the issue of inclusive growth, observing that Sub Saharan Africa was also in a similar position on the issue of youth unemployment, “while exhibiting vibrant growth, basically jobless growth.”

He stressed on urgent need for the continent to embark on massive creation of entrepreneurs and businesses, in order to make economic inclusion a reality. He also asserted that massive job creation targeting women and young entrepreneurs would boost Small and Medium Scale enterprises (SMEs) and encourage joint ventures between local and foreign investors.

Drawing from Kenya on financial inclusion (m-pesa and m-kesho products), the Chief Economist also observed that governments could facilitate the rolling out of technology driven mobile banking services, which have worked exceptionally well in that country, and could be replicated regional-wide. In that regard, Mr. Ncube also revealed that governments would gain by facilitating movements of people, easing border controls, and encouraging cross-border investments, and investments in regional infrastructure.

The way forward on the inclusive agenda?

The Chief Economist also touched 2012 Annual meetings high level seminars, which include: Global economic issues; Emerging issues in Africa; Greening the economy; Africa transforming Africa; Youth employment and the general demographic dividend.

He said: “2012 Annual meetings in Arusha will make a difference in the themes to be addressed… The various themes have several dimensions namely: global, economic structural transformation, regional, financial inclusion, demographic dividend and infrastructure.”

The Bank’s agenda therefore sets the context for the long term strategy (2013-2022), not only in helping define pillars for the strategy but also highlighting that private sector development is a Bank wide issue requiring a "one-bank" approach in its implementation.

“Indeed governments in Africa have a key role to play as a partner to the Bank and the private sector, in achieving inclusive growth,” Mr. Ncube concluded.

Since December 1, 2011, the Bank Group’s Chief Economist has actively interacted with the public through his Blog on knowledge and African development issues.