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On Day 1 of the 11th African Economic Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, Prof. Eric Maskin of Harvard University and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in economics made a short presentation on why globalization is accelerating inequality instead of reducing it. Maskin called for greater skills education and training, to provide people usually in rural agricultural areas with the means to enable them to find jobs in agro-industry.
Maskin spoke about income inequality in developing countries. “As you will see, this has quite a lot to do with agriculture,” he said.
“We have been going through an intense period of globalization in the past 20 or 30 years, and globalization has brought with it many benefits. Developing countries like China, India and a number of African countries have seen dramatic impeta as a result of globalization.
“But globalization has also brought with it some difficulties. In particular, it has led to a fairly dramatic increase in inequality in a number of developing countries – China, India and a number of African countries are examples of this as well.”
In theory, said Maskin, “exactly the opposite should have happened.”
However, “developing countries,” he said, “are rich in unskilled labour. And when a country embarks in international trade, it tends to specialize in goods which make use of skilled labour.”
For this reason, Maskin argued, “governments need to get involved in skills training and education in agriculture because that is where the unskilled are mostly located,” he said. “There is no higher priority than investing in people.
“Globalization is a force that should be enjoyed by everybody,” he said, “not just the people at the top. Let the fruits of globalization be shared equally.”
Maskin made the comments during a televised roundtable on the theme “The way forward to transforming Africa’s agriculture” on Monday, December 5.
While in Abuja, Maskin also met with African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, and AfDB Group Vice-President and Chief Economist, Célestin Monga.