Foresight Africa: Top priorities for Africa in 2016

truthslinger6-420x420

Photo: Mutua Matheka Photography

Africa is at a tipping point in 2016. Despite all the success the continent has achieved in recent years, new and old dangers—economic, political, and security-related—threaten to derail its progress. With sound policymaking, effective leadership, and enough foresight, however—Africa can meet and defeat these challenges as well as the many more to come.

In this year’s Foresight Africa, the Africa Growth Initiative and its colleagues discuss six overarching themes that place Africa at this tipping point and give their view on what they perceive to be key areas for intervention to keep Africa on its current rising trajectory. This year’s format is different from years past, encompassing viewpoints from high-level policymakers, academics, and practitioners, as well as utilizing visuals to better illustrate the paths behind and now in front of Africa.

 Explore the full report »
Managing Economic Shocks: African Prospects in the Evolving External Environment

In this chapter, Amadou Sy explores the recent external economic shocks to African economies—including the economic slowdown in China, declines in commodity prices, and the likely continued U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hikes—that have affected and will continue to affect growth trajectories in the region. With growth slowing across the continent in 2016, policymakers must take this opportunity to discuss and enact economic policy reform for both the short and long terms.

 Read chapter 1 »
Sustaining Domestic Growth: Structural Transformation Depends on Jobs, Industry, and SMEs

Growth in Asia and elsewhere has shown that industrialization is crucial to job creation, a value that is enshrined in the new Sustainable Development Goals. In this chapter, John Page provides recommendations on how African governments and their international partners can revitalize the region’s stagnating industrial development and spur structural transformation.

 Read chapter 2 »
Supporting Human Development: Triumphs and Challenges on the Continent

The region has witnessed remarkable improvements in poverty reduction in recent years, but persistent challenges in inequality, education, health, and violence, among others, still plague it. As the first year of the Sustainable Development Goals, 2016 provides the opportunity to be a jumping-off point for strong policies and efforts to accomplish these goals. In this chapter, Kathleen G. Beegle and Luc Christiaensen cover the assortment of opportunities 2016 provides for supporting human development efforts and argues for the central role that better data plays in addressing them.

 Read chapter 3 »
Capitalizing on Urbanization: The Importance of Planning, Infrastructure, and Finance for Africa's Growing Cities

With Habitat III in 2016, Jérôme Chenal takes the opportunity in this chapter to explore the consequences of Africa’s rapid urbanization. Africa is the second-fastest urbanizing region in the world, which historically has facilitated other regions’ transition from a reliance on agriculture to industry and jobs. However, without strong policies to deliver services, finance and build infrastructure, and support the urban poor, Africa’s rapidly growing megacities and intermediate cities cannot deliver on their potential.

 Read chapter 4 »
Maintaining Governance Gains: The National and Regional Agendas

2016 sees a number of governance milestones and obstacles, including elections across the continent (particularly in Uganda, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and for the African Union chairperson), as well as increasing regional integration and a seemingly stalled march towards good governance. In this chapter, Richard Joseph reflects on the region’s growth-governance puzzle and the complex institutional changes necessary to move from economic growth to economic transformation.

 Read chapter 5 »
Expanding African Trade: Creating a Comparative Advantage and Strengthening Regional Partnerships

In this chapter, Joshua P. Meltzer explores the impacts on Africa of the changing global trade environment. In particular, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement will transform global trade architecture, likely to the disadvantage of Africa. However, our viewpoint contributors believe that, if African countries can successfully leverage regional integration and better utilize the African Growth and Opportunity Act, they might be able to maintain global competitiveness.

 Read chapter 6 »

Article Source: Brookings Africa Growth Initiative

About Foresight Africa

The Foresight Africa project is a series of reports, commentaries and events that aim to help policymakers and Africa watchers stay ahead of the trends and developments impacting the continent. Since 2011, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative has used the occasion of the new year to assess Africa’s top priorities for the year.

 

 

Redefining Work

By Esko Kilpi

1zhavrs0o1bw0yqs-ileg4g

Pic Credit: Esko Kilpi

The most modern definition of work is “an exchange in which the participants benefit from the interaction”. Interestingly, cooperation is also described as “an exchange in which the participants benefit from the interaction”.

The way we view work life is influenced by the way we view the world. This view rests on the most fundamental assumptions we make about reality. In the present competitive view of the world, we often think that the most capable are those who are the most competitive, and accordingly that competition creates and secures capability and long-term viability in the world (of work).

But what if high performance is incorrectly attributed to competition and is more a result of diversity, self-organizing communication and non-competitive processes of cooperation?

Competitive processes lead to the handicapping of the system that these processes are part of. This is because competitive selection leads to exclusion: something or somebody, the losers, is left outside. Leaving something out of an ecosystem always means a reduction of diversity. The resulting less diverse system is efficient in the short term and competition seems to work, but always at the expense of long-term viability. Sustainability, agility and complex problem solving require more diversity, not less.

As losers are excluded from the game, they are not allowed to learn. The divide between winners and losers grows constantly. Losers multiply as winning behaviors are replicated in the smaller winners’ circles and losing behaviors are replicated in the bigger losers’ circles. This is why, in the end, the winners have to pay the price of winning in one way or another. The bigger the divide of inequality, the bigger the price that finally has to be paid. The winners end up having to take care of the losers. Before that two totally different cultures are formed in society, as is happening in many places today.

The games we play have been played under the assumption that the unit of survival is the player, meaning the individual or a company. However, in the time of the Anthropocene, the reality is that the unit of survival is the player in the game being played. Following Darwinian rhetoric, the unit of survival is the species in its environment. Who wins and who loses is of minor importance compared to the decay of the (game) environment as a result of the actions of the players.

In games that were paradoxically competitive and cooperative at the same time, losers would not be eliminated from the game, but would be invited to learn from the winners. What prevents losers learning from winners is our outdated zero-sum thinking and the winner-takes-all philosophy.

In competitive games the players need to have the identical aim of winning the same thing. Unless all the players want the same thing, there cannot be a genuine contest. Human players and their contributions are, at best, too diverse to rank. They are, and should be, too qualitatively different to compare quantitatively. Zero-sum games were the offspring of scarcity economics. In the post-industrial era of abundant creativity and contextuality, new human-centric approaches are needed.

Before Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” and came out with the idea of the invisible hand, he had already written something perhaps even more interesting for our time. In “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” he argued that a stable society was based on sympathy. He underlined the importance of a moral duty — to have regard for your fellow human beings

Cooperative processes are about interdependent individuals and groups defining and solving problems in a shared context. Individuals competing on job markets may be one of the historic mistakes we have inherited from the industrial age. It made sense a long time ago but now we should think differently.

Interaction creates capability beyond individuals. Cooperative performance can be more than what could ever be predicted just by looking at the performance of the parties involved in a competitive game. Higher performance and robustness are emergent properties of cooperative interaction. They are not attributable to any of the parts of the system or to the functioning of the markets.

Networks provide a problem-solving capability that results directly from the richness of communication and the amount of connectivity. What happens in interaction between the parts creates a reality that cannot be seen in the parts or even all of the parts. What we have called the “whole” is an emergent pattern of interaction, not the sum of the parts or an entity on a different level from the parts.

The same principle explains why we have financial crises that no one planned and wars that no one wants. On the other hand, the great societal promise is that interaction in wide-area networks, with enough diversity, can solve problems beyond the awareness of the individuals involved.

What defines most problems today is that they are not isolated and independent but connected and systemic. To solve them, a person has to think not only about what he believes the right answer is, but also about what other people think the right answers might be. Following the rhetoric of game theory, what each person does affects and depends on what everyone else will do and vice versa.

Most managers and decision makers are still unaware of the implications of the complex, responsive properties of the world we live in. Enterprises are not organized to facilitate the management of interactions, only the actions of parts taken separately. Even more, compensation structures normally reward improving the actions of parts, not their interactions.

Work that humans do used to be a role; now it is a task, but it is going to be a relationship: work is interaction between interdependent people. The really big idea of 2016 is to reconfigure agency in a way that brings relationships into the center. The mission is to see action within relationships.

Amartyta Sen has written that wealth should not be measured by what we have but what we can do. As we engage in new relationships and connect with thinking that is different from ours, we are always creating new potentials for action. In competitive/cooperative games the winners would be all those whose participation, comments and contributions are incorporated into the development of the game.

Major changes in economic patterns have historically been associated with a technological change leading to a sudden discovery of underutilized resources. Examples are many raw materials shipped from far away countries, gold in California, large number of workers in China, idle computing power or, lately, privately owned cars.

The most underutilized resource still waiting for discovery may be our ability to cooperate much more deeply than the systems of work have so far envisioned.

And we have the tools!

This article was originally posted on the Medium

 

An Alternative Perspective on Africa Rising

Listen again

Is Africa’s growth trajectory overhyped? Is it as Omidyar Network’s Ory Okolloh call, ‘a fetishisation’ over some of the continent’s development achievements at the heavy expense of turning a blind eye to the weighty issues? As she concernedly asks, “will technology ‘save’ the continent from its poorly run resources, bad leadership and ineptitude?” Is Africa really rising? And if she is indeed rising, who are the beneficiaries? This was the subject addressed by Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International when she spoke at LSE on 12 October 2015.

Credit: Africa at LSE

“As I prepared to come here to give my views on this topic, I promised myself I would not be an Afro pessimist,” she announced. “My job has me talking about poverty everyday but being an African girl, I can say that I am proud of what Africa has achieved. I am proud of my country, the continent and her people and at the grassroots especially, you see a true reflection of the resilience of her people.”

“Africa has witnessed four centuries of slave trade, one century of colonialism totalling five centuries of domination with just 60 years of independence,” she continued. “Growing up in Uganda, I know what it feels like to have false freedom and false independence. I grew up with a leader, Idi Amin, who would decide overnight new legislations pinning them to what he claimed lucid dreams; dreams of women without make-up, skirts, and more aggravating, education. But regardless of this, we took on the risk of getting an education with the support of ordinary people who inspired resilience,” she reminisced.

Today, African economies are growing at an average rate of 5% per year and Foreign Direct Investment has expanded by over 30%. Fewer mothers die in child birth and the rate of child mortality has decreased tremendously. The continent boasts several of the fastest growing economies in the world and is posited to leapfrog in development through its ever growing innovation and technology. “The universities are hotbeds of innovation,” the speaker stated with a smile. “However, despite all this, one in two Africans lives in extreme poverty. Women are the hardest hit earning 30% less than men.”

“The most important question I would ask you today is, Africa is rising but it is rising for whom?” she poses.

“Jane is my mother’s god-daughter. She was married at 16 years old and not out of choice but for labour. She was a successful farmer tilling her husband’s land. She lost three of her children to curable diseases but due to poverty, she had to bear the burden of burying her own. Her husband too passed on. I am helping her to build on her husband’s land but now she wants to leave it to her son. Under Ugandan law, she can claim the land but as a second wife, the land belongs to the son of the first wife. When she came to ask for money to buy the land from her son, I challenged her to claim what was rightfully hers to which she opposed.” Through this poignant story, Winnie Byanyima unmasks the reality of Africa, her people and the challenges they face on a daily basis; challenges of legacies of discrimination regulated by traditions and custom.

“Increasing the income share of the poor and middle class increases growth; illicit financial flows alone make Africa a net creditor to the rest of the world,” she informs. “Tax reforms need to be fit for purpose.”

“I have worked in several positions but none compares to working at Oxfam International where I feel that I can challenge elite capture. I love this job because I can speak truth to power,” she affirms. “Power lies with organised citizens because it is through solidarity that power shifts. Africa is the youngest region yet the oldest and by the year 2030 we will see a demographic dividend. My hope is that we will have halved the tax gap and these resources will be channelled to health, education and social protection thus investing in Africa’s true wealth, her people.”

This article is based on a LSE Public Lecture with Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International. Follow this link to listen to the full lecture.

Article Originally posted on Africa at LSE 

Book Reviews

Credit: Columbia University Press

Columbia University Press is pleased to announce the publication of Industrial Policy and Economic Transformation in Africa, edited by Akbar Noman and Joseph E. Stiglitz.

•       Makes the case that governments should expand their thinking about industrial policy to include learning, technology, supervision, climate change, global trade, and other aspects.
•       Highlights successful African countries that have improved their economic performance and the lessons to be learned.
•       Shows how Africa’s recent economic revival is built on a fragile foundation and gives solutions to strengthen the continents growth going forward.

“This impressive book is about how to generate decent jobs, reduce poverty, and achieve inclusive and sustainable structural transformation through industrialization in Africa. It should be read by anyone who hopes to transform or help transform Africa from a land of poverty to a land of prosperity.”
—Justin Yifu Lin, Peking University and former chief economist of the World Bank

The revival of economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is all the more welcome for having followed one of the worst economic disasters—a quarter century of economic malaise for most of the region—since the industrial revolution. Six of the world’s fastest-growing economies in the first decade of this century were African. Yet only in Ethiopia and Rwanda was growth not based on resources and the rising price of oil. Deindustrialization has yet to be reversed, and progress toward creating a modern economy remains limited.

This book explores the vital role that active government policies can play in transforming African economies. Such policies pertain not just to industry. They traverse all economic sectors, including finance, information technology, and agriculture. These packages of learning, industrial, and technology (LIT) policies aim to bring vigorous and lasting growth to the region. This collection features case studies of LIT policies in action in many parts of the world, examining their risks and rewards and what they mean for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Akbar Noman teaches at Columbia University, where he is a senior fellow at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, co-chair of its Africa Task Force, and adjunct associate professor at the School of International and Public Affairs.

Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University, former chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank, and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics.

To find out more about this book, see here.

Credit: Goodreads

Fifty Five Shades of Political Economy….
“Economists are not all evil, few might have had good intentions. Most of recent economists’ bibles don’t bring anything new to the table other than beautiful tables. Instead of reviving the neglected debate around socio-economic inequality, their misfires add to the cacophony that already existed and their childish solutions to socio-economic injustice, either Robin Hood or Give a dog a bone approaches, make their books as useful as a paperweight.
Do we need an Economic Jihad? What can you say about the boring cock-fights between Capitalism deities of our time? You should be as disgusted as I am of these clown shows that chip away the substance of economic disparity dialogues. I have left to the class of economist sloppy cerebral sloths, to tiptoeing around of serious issues. Instead, you, the reader, and I will be swimming against the torrent current. Chapter one through six are exhibits of the case against the current status quo, Capitalism. And if I see you on the other side of chapter seven, please hold my hand tightly from chapter eight through ten. Take your time to digest chapter eleven and get yourself prepared for a big slap to your face. On the closing argument, chapter twelve follows through James Tobin’s recommendation: “Good papers in economics contain surprises and stimulate further work.” Jo Sekimonyo

See the book here and here.

I will be reviewing these two books in due course.

I too hold the mantle: International Day of Democracy

Today, 15th September 2015, little or not so little fifteen year old Muteteli from Rwanda aspires to one day be Member of Parliament. She aspires to represent constituents from her region, help young children grow up to be the best they could possibly be; to live to their full potential. Young Muteteli aspires to assist farmers to produce more food for internal use and export, teachers be well qualified, hospitals to have well run facilities and to overall harness the energies and innovation of the promising Rwandan youth.

“I will one day be Member of Parliament, I will make good decisions and I will make Rwanda proud,” she muses amidst a smile. Are her dreams valid? Very much so.

(The Bring Back Our Girls Movement)

If one asks Muteteli whether she is aware of what a civil society organization is, she will quickly respond with a resounding yes. “They are the people who hold my Member of Parliament representative accountable and raise issues on what needs to be done more of.” If one probes further on whether she would want a civil society during her parliamentary tenure, the answer is also a resounding yes. “Just as my mother holds me to account on my wrongs, I too want people to tell me where I should focus my energies.”

Ban Ki moon rightly put it when he stated that civil society is the oxygen of democracy. It acts as a catalyst for social progress and economic growth and plays a critical role in keeping Government accountable; helps represent the diverse interests of the population, including its most vulnerable groups; that being the women and youth.

Article 29 of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance stipulates that, ‘State Parties shall recognize the crucial role of women in development and strengthening of democracy.’

What does this mean?

In the words of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, “No one benefits if women are held back; we have to change mind sets, not just laws. In Rwanda, more women than ever before are serving in positions of responsibility and leadership in government and in the work place. These role models, in turn, shape the expectations and the missions of the next generations”.

Pic Credit: Huffington Post

Democracy and its ideals as defined by the United Nations is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. This means that there is rule of law whereby constitutions are upheld, term limits are respected, civil society groups can exercise their freedoms whilst holding government to account, elections are free and fair and the institutions within the state are free to deliver on public services equitably without interference from bureaucratic red tape and corruption.

This year’s International Day of Democracy theme is on creating spaces for civil society and a study by Civicus indicates a nexus between democracy, civil society engagement and women’s leadership.

Beginning with its leadership, it is reported Rwanda claimed the world’s highest percentage of women in parliament in 2003 and today, its women hold 64% of the country’s legislative seats. Rwanda is arguably run efficiently and effectively with a fast rising private sector and civil society which is steered by pragmatic sound policies and legislation from its political institutions. The study indicates that Rwandan civil society’s greatest strengths is its relatively positive values; that its civil society, to a great extent, nurtures and upholds positive values such as anti-corruption practices, gender equity, poverty eradication, tolerance and democracy promotion. This is a country that survived genocide in the 90’s and more or less built its economy from scratch.

The African Union came to the succinct realization that women hold the mantle in promoting democracy and good governance and as such, during its 24th Heads of State Summit in January 2015, ended with a strong call for women’s empowerment in Africa as a step towards achieving the goals of Agenda 2063, its blueprint development strategy for the next 50 years.

 

Pic Credit: Afronline.org

It cannot be overemphasized how crucial the role of civil society and more so women’s participation in democracy building is.  Ban Ki moon also rightly put it when he stated as follows:

Women hold up more than half the sky and represent much of the world’s unrealized potential. They are the educators. They raise the children. They hold families together and increasingly drive economies. They are natural leaders. We need their full engagement… in government, business and civil society.

What does a Data Revolution in Africa look like?

(Pic credit: Onthinktanks.org)

The Heads of State and Government at the 23rd AU Summit within the Common Africa Position on the Post 2015 agenda were convinced of the need for structural transformation for inclusive and people centered development in Africa. They tersely came to an agreement on how such a developmental approach requires the creation and enhancement of adequate policy space and productive capacities, notably through infrastructure development; science and technology; transfer and innovation; value addition to primary commodities; youth development and women’s empowerment. They also agreed that this approach requires addressing the challenges posed by climate change; desertification and land degradation; drought, loss of bio diversity; sustainable natural resource management; and the promotion of a responsive and accountable global governance architecture.

Critical to this discussion therefore is: how can data assist in mitigating these challenges and existing gaps whilst offering new insights on how to accelerate development across the continent?

During the two day National Forum on harnessing the data revolution for sustainable development held in Nairobi Kenya between 28th and 29th August 2015, multi stakeholders from government, private sector, academia, nonprofit organizations, local communities and development partnerships convened a midst whetted ambition to begin addressing the informational aspects of development decision making in a coordinated way.

“Where will the locus for disaggregated data be situated with the shift in development trends? Will it be open data sources, national statistics offices or will it be with philanthropy organizations that are increasingly shifting to partnerships with the private sector? ODA is decreasing in countries such as Kenya which have shifted to middle income status. Will it be in conjunction with private sector organizations? How will this revolution look like?” asked a keen participant in the audience.

These are fundamentals questions reeling in everyone’s mind as crucial conversations on the data revolution embark in Africa ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals being acceded to in September 2015 and the convening of the World Data Forum scheduled to be held in 2016.

Without high-quality data providing the right information on the right things at the right time to the right people; designing, monitoring and evaluating effective policies becomes almost impossible. Institutions require bolstering to manage and steer this new shift in development with adequate resources and political will being the key priorities to making this a reality. How will this happen amidst the current challenges facing the continent? Below is an info graphic highlighting some of them.

(Pic Credit: APHRC)

The sparking of  a conversation on harnessing the data revolution for sustainable development marks Kenya’s first step in working towards a global partnership for a data revolution, establishing the country as a leader on the African continent and globally.

Nonetheless, a common challenge facing majority countries in Africa today, Kenya not excluded,  is the lack or inadequacy of fundamental statistics measuring the quality and quantity of taxes and trade, births and deaths, or even growth and poverty.  Add on to this the mis-match in priorities between governments in Africa and the donor community. Governments alike require sub-national data to help guide budgetary and policy decisions while on the other hand external donors often want national level data to make allocation decisions across countries; this priorities have often been misaligned further exacerbating the already existing data gap.

As the deputy president of the Republic of Kenya Hon. William Ruto rightly put it, “the data revolution must not become a struggle between an ancient regime of traditional official statistics and a new big data republique. A worthwhile revolution should develop greater capacity for national statistics offices while fostering integrated and harmonious relations with other data producers. “

As espoused in the Africa Data Consensus, a sustained data revolution is needed to drive social, economic and structural transformation in every African country. Such a revolution will also make it easier to track our countries’ progress towards meeting national and globally agreed sustainable development goals, with a view to leave no one behind. The building blocks for an African data revolution are already in place. National Statistical Offices have long been the backbone of data production and management, producing official statistics and supporting data activities to create accurate and timely data for decision making. However, today’s development challenges and prospects call for a broad data ecosystem that spans the entire value chain driven by national priorities and underpinned by the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics. This ecosystem must be inclusive of all forms of data – including official and other data – and involve all stakeholders.

*This article by the author was originally posted on www.dataforum.or.ke

Financing for Development in Africa

On 13-16 July 2015, high-level political representatives, including Heads of State and Government, and Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD 3) to agree on how to overcome global systemic inequalities and how to finance the full implementation of agreed international development agendas.

Were the deliberations on Financing for Development meaningful for Africa?  Financing what kind of development? For whom? With whom? At what cost?

Here are a few succinct points raised by Development Alternatives with Women for a new Era.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: