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Top 2014 Priorities for Africa


January 7, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

"Africa growth in the context of the polar vortex" could have been the theme of the panel discussion earlier today at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. Fortunately, the internet does not shut off because of somewhat cold weather.  This was a follow-up to the recently-published Foresight Africa study from Brookings.

There were five themes that emerged from this study and the discussion that were most interesting:

1) Need for policy solutions to come from Africa
  • external solutions for poverty reductions and conflict resolution have had limited success
  • 'one size fits all' approach does not work
  • capacity building in Africa has had short-term successes but is not sustainable in the long run
  • the narrative about Africa perpetuated by the media (conflict, poverty, corruption, risk) needs to change and become more realistic
  • treating Africa as a single entity is particularly misleading – perhaps leading to the 'one size fits all" policy mimicry and the media narrative
2) Need to improve governance in Africa (with some suggestions)
  • governance should be on the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals
  • poor government capacity is a corruption enabler
  • reducing illicit capital flows and tax evasion is a governance necessity for Africa – but is difficult to accomplish
3) Need to harness technology for growth in Africa (with some suggestions)
  • mobile technology is key to spurn Africa growth
  • the notion of "technology leapfrog" is changing to "infrastructure hacking" because high tech solutions often require infrastructure that does not exist – African innovation is to leverage what infrastructure there is
  • there is significant and growing technology investment in Africa
  • government procurement can be used to finance technology in Africa, large amounts of government IT spending benefits companies in developed countries
4) Need for sustainable growth in Africa (with many suggestions)
  • The perceived risk of investing in Africa much higher than the real risk – a communications challenge 
  • Extractive industries are responsible for significant amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa, but this does not have a significant impact on growth
  • FDI needs to be tied to increasing local industry and capacity
  • FDI is increasing more rapidly than Official Development Assistance (ODA) from OECD countries
  • Aid and FDI need to work together to improve the quality of investment to achieve sustainability growth – this is a major policy challenge for African governments
  • Diversity of investment also improves growth 
  • Agriculture is business that reduces poverty
  • Africa can grow in a green fashion because of hydro electricity potential and available land for farming
  • Small and medium businesses in Africa need capacity building

5) Need to manage African conflict in a different way (with some suggestions)

  • conflict has become integrated in Africa, we can't use a silo approach
  • traditional approaches to peacemaking is not working, changes are necessary
  • religious and ethnic differences are leveraged by warlords for conflict
  • climate change is also creating disruption that feeds conflict
  • approaches like imposing elections when there is no government structure or funding corrupt governments should change

More details below from storified tweets of the event:

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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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