Strong Leadership Needed for Inclusive Growth, Experts Say

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Inclusive growth has attracted considerable attention in recent years, and certainly at the African Development Bank the discussion has reached a fevered pitch. To underpin this debate, the Development Research Department (EDRE) of the African Development Bank together with the Korean Development Institute (KDI) and the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) organized an Expert Group Meeting on Inclusive Growth in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from May 6-7, 2013. The meeting was held at the Economic Commission for Africa headquarters.

The discussion focused on the Inclusive Growth Index currently being developed by EDRE and other related topics covered in the ongoing research on inclusive growth by EDRE and KDI. There were also presentations on case studies from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia; the effect of fiscal deficit convergence criteria in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) region and the correlates of poverty in Africa.  

The key message from the meeting was that even as economic growth in Africa has increased, it has not been inclusive enough to address poverty and unemployment. To this end, there is need for a renewed approach towards Africa’s development process, paying particular attention to excluded sections of the population such as vulnerable groups and women.

This approach would require strategic and practical policy focus by identifying factors that continue to constrain achievement of inclusive growth in Africa. Learning from Korea’s experience and Africa’s own past will be critical in this process. The policy toolkit for achieving inclusive growth is more complex and multidimensional.

Most importantly, it calls for a dedicated and visionary leadership coupled with effective governance in order to harness Africa’s abundant labour through quality education and recognizing role of non-cognitive skills in human capital development and employment generation. Concerted efforts in advancing regional integration and intra-Africa trade, and promoting well designed and targeted, self-financing social protection programs for the vulnerable groups were also identified as key pillars for the attainment of inclusive growth in Africa.   

The participants were particularly pleased by the Bank’s convening power and the role of partnerships in tackling the continent’s pressing development challenges.

The meeting was graced by the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia, Abraham Tekeste, who gave a keynote speech. It brought together high-profile experts from Africa and beyond working on issues related to Africa’s development agenda and, in particular, areas on inclusive growth. The AfDB team was led by Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, Director of EDRE.