AFRICAN ECONOMIES TO DIVERSIFY
By Paul Ndiho, Washington D.C.
October 21, 2010
A United Nations study released recently recommends diversification of African economies, to reduce reliance on natural resources and encourage growth in sectors such as telecommunications, agriculture and tourism.
At a news conference in New York for the U.N.’s report, Eckhard Deutscher, Chair of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) calls on governments and media to help change a negative perception of African economies.
“In the most of the OECD countries the picture on Africa is still that this is a continent disintegrated, lagging behind and that there are not enough private investments coming from those countries, the OECD countries to Africa. And I can only call to the press, to the governments, to change this picture urgently. Africa will become an important player in the future without any doubt.”
The U.N. study also calls for recognition of the increasingly
important contribution of Africa to global economic growth.
Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), stresses the importance of south-south cooperation, or, emerging nations bypassing trade with rich northern nations.
“This south-south cooperation – because it can be called south-south cooperation – is both in the interest of – because at the end of the day is a question of interest – in both the interest of the emerging economies and the interest of the African continent. And I can assure you that question of interests are absolutely key and essential.”
Under-Secretary-General and UN Special Adviser on Africa Cheick Sidi Diarra, notes that good relations with China and India can spark further investment in Africa.
“The relations between emerging countries like China and India give more room to maneuver to African continent in their negotiation with traditional donors in their policies to attract foreign direct investment in order to ease the conditions and to take more benefit out of this foreign direct investment. Because the competition for natural resources is something that is real and it will be even much stake in the future.”
Some countries such as Gabon are diversifying their economy amid declining oil production. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. But the country’s oil output has been declining for years, and Gabon is attempting to renew itself by developing an economic trade zone to attract investment and spur growth.