Interview with Mario Pezzini, Director, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Development Centre

24/05/2016
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Mario Pezzini, Director of the Development Centre at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has called on the need for Africa to explore investment opportunities in order to address issues of unemployment, particularly among youth.

Pezzini disclosed this in an interview on the heels of the global launch of the 2016 African Economic Outlook: Sustainable cities and structural transformation on Day 1 of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Lusaka, Zambia

He said there are a lot of opportunities that can lead to employment opportunities and cited one of them as tapping natural resources.

“For example, at present in Australia there are $60 of investment in exploration and renewable natural resources per square kilometre and in Africa there is only $5,” he said. 

Investment in such a sector will not absorb large parts of society and there was therefore need to explore other investment opportunities, he said.

Pezzini also cited global value chains specialising in production of manufacturing in certain components of products as one avenue that can help address issues of unemployment in Africa. Specialisation in the manufacturing industry is a sure and good way to start as there is less investment and easier, he added.

Pezzini also highlighted the need for the public sector to look into the issues surrounding unemployment, but was quick to note that resources and the physical capacity in the public sector was still a challenge in as far as addressing issues of unemployment are concerned.

He emphasized the need for local and national economies to work on productive transformation of rural areas to urban areas.

“Urbanisation without transformation will mean moving the poor from poorer to other poor areas and changing the nature of poverty, but at the same time not addressing the issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pezzini has described the lack of recognition of 70 percent of land in Africa as complex and a fundamental issue which needs gradual land reforms.

He emphasized the need for African governments to look at infrastructure development as a crucial way of addressing the 70 percent of untapped land.

He added that there was also need to create urban plans and place high priority on them.

Pezzini has said issues of decentralisation should not just be seen as the movement of money from the central government to the local authorities, but an issue that requires the two to come together and define objectives.