2014 Africa Transformation Report highlights need for growth with depth

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At the first session of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings taking place in Kigali, representatives of the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), an economic policy institute based in Ghana, presented their report entitled “Africa Transformation Report: Growth with Depth”.

This report presents the state of economic transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa, lessons learned from African countries and selected comparators from Asia and Latin America, and how this transformation can be sustained for the long run.

The session included presentations from K.Y. Amoako, Founder and President of ACET, Yaw Ansu, ACET’s Chief Economist joined by Justin Lin, former Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank.

The Africa Transformation Report results from a three-year extensive research program of country, sector and thematic studies to offer analyses and lessons that can be tailored to each country’s endowments, constraints and opportunities, developed in collaboration with think tanks of 15 African countries.

In his presentation, Ansu showed that African economies need more than growth; what was needed was growth with depth, meaning diversifying production, making exports competitive on the international market, increasing the overall productivity of farms, firms and governments and upgrading the technology that is used throughout the economy, which will result in overall improved human well-being in Africa.

The key feature of the report is ACET’s new African Transformation Index that assesses the performance of countries on five depth attributes of transformation and aggregates them in one overall index that will help policy-makers, business people, the media and the public track how African economies are transforming and how they stand comparatively to their peers.

Tapping from China’s experience, Lin showed that Africa has a unique opportunity to learn from China’s successes and failures. One of ways to sustain this transformation, according to Lin is Africa’s comparative advantage of natural resources, cheaper labour and relative young population among other significant drivers.  

As examples, the session discussed the textile and designer shoes industries that have been set up in Ethiopia in the past few years and have had a significant positive impact on the country’s economy.

Infrastructure development was also identified as an important component of the continent’s transformation and the role of AfDB’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) as centre to this was discussed.

K.Y. Amoako, in his remarks, insisted on the role of countries leadership in developing long-term visions and strategies, as well as a clear coordination of activities of all actors in pursuing and sustaining this economic transformation.

Questions and interventions of other participant’s emphasised that sustaining economic transformation in Africa is a complex matter that needs a holistic and well-thought approach.

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