Article written

  • on 08.07.2014
  • at 04:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Africa needs to rethink strategy and tactics for industrialisation 0

African policy makers must rethink both their strategy and tactics. The evidence and data show at least five areas in which the structure of the economies can be changed.

African governments have spent decades asking their richer counterparts in the West for aid; these days, they ask for access to markets and have a new slogan — “Trade, Not Aid” — to justify their pleas.

These governments would help the continent better if they rethought what they ask for and, perhaps, looked closer to home for some of the answers to Africa’s problems.

Take aid, for instance. While some forms are useful and can make a difference if used effectively, it is now widely accepted that aid is, at best, a stop-gap measure and, at worst, a corrupting and corrosive agent that erodes domestic citizen agency and undermines accountability.

Although billions of dollars still flow into Africa every year as aid, it has been relegated in importance behind foreign direct investment and remittances from Africans in the diaspora.

In 2010, Ghanaian academic Adams Bodomo revealed that remittances to Africa from abroad had overtaken aid to the continent and gave figures of $51.8 billion versus $43 billion. The figures vary from survey to survey but the principle is the same: Africans working abroad are a key driver of financing on the continent and the money they send rarely suffers the pilferage that aid does.

There are, at least, two problems with the state of financial transfers. The first is that it costs too much for Africans in the diaspora to send money home.

A survey by the Overseas Development Institute last year found that it costs an average of 12.3 per cent for Africans in the diaspora to send $200 home. That is higher than the global average of 7.8 per cent and costs a tidy $1.4 billion per year.

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By Daniel K. KalinakiThe East African

Photo credit: Mike Golby

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