Strong leadership and good governance, two essentials for reductions in poverty and inequalities: Ponyo

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On Monday, November 2 at the third plenary session of the African Economic Conference (AEC) in Kinshasa, the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Augustin Matata Ponyo, shared his country’s experience on the “determinants of poverty and inequalities and their consequences.”

In a very practical style and with supporting statistics, the Prime Minister presented the macroeconomic fundamentals that helped to reduce poverty and inequalities in the country and to improve its economic growth between 1990 and 2015.

He described the “Congolese recipe,” which he said had already been tested in some African universities and which comes in the form of the equation: Poverty Reduction = Strong Leadership + Good Governance (PR=SL+GG), an equation that some have described as a textbook case for Africa.

For the effective development of the country’s economic potential, continued Prime Minister Ponyo, what is needed is a change to the paradigm of development and a better grip on issues of human development, governance and leadership.

“Nations that have succeeded started by placing people at the centre of their actions,” he said, emphasising that “the country has focused on education and health in general and on higher education in particular to reduce the adverse effects of poverty and inequality.”

Prime Minister Ponyo added, “The DRC experienced a dark period between 1990 and 2001, marked by negative growth and a peak in instability: employment was at its lowest, GDP was down and average inflation was 843%. The currency had fallen and our external debt was estimated at more than $500 million … the national economy was virtually non-existent.”

The Prime Minister reviewed issues related to financial reforms and sustained governance: the fight against corruption and the embezzlement of public monies, the use of the banking system for paying public officials, resource management and improving the business climate.

“Thanks to the courageous reforms taken forward by the Government and to the good governance and leadership of the President of the Republic, Joseph Kabila, the country has been able to redress the balance and improve the lives of the Congolese people. 

“The Government has placed particular emphasis on agriculture, infrastructure and health by improving roads and access to drinking water and transportation, and also by improving the situation of men and women living in rural areas,” he said.

Peace as a factor in development and poverty reduction

While acknowledging the improvement in the living conditions of the Congolese people, Prime Minister Ponyo also pointed to the fact that the peace prevailing in the country has especially allowed for significant benefits to be reaped, particularly an improvement to the health sector, access to drinking water, the employment rate, the school enrolment and literacy rates and the empowerment of women. “Peace plays an essential part in development. If there is no peace, there is no growth,” emphasised the Congolese Prime Minister.

More than 250 participants from across the continent and overseas, including policymakers, academics, and leaders of civil society and the private sector, were in attendance at the 10th African Economic Conference in Kinshasa. The conference concludes on Wednesday, November 4.