Recently, Africanews organized an interview with Vera Songwe, an economist and executive secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa. The interview comes when Africanews celebrates its 5th anniversary, having journeyed milestones, looking back at what it has achieved over the past years.
Is Africa Making any Effort?
During the meeting, Ruth Lago, an Africanews journalist, asked the economist to explain better what she meant by the need for African countries to define their development model, stressing whether they should conclude there has been no progress in the continent the past five years.
While replying to the question, Ms. Vera Songwe acknowledged the fact that Africa was making significant strides. She disputed the idea of looking at Africa as a single entity, stating that the continent had over 50 countries.
“I believe that some countries, especially in East Africa, have embraced this knowledge economy. In Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia, we have made significant progress. Small island countries, such as Cape Verde, are also affected. Morocco, for example, has undergone industrialization as a result of the diversification of its economy,” she said.
Ruth also asked what the continent is to expect this year, given the epidemic shows no signs of abating and economies are spread thin/under strain. In response, Mrs. Songwe stated that they should congratulate African economies on their resilience because none has fully collapsed.
“We can see that countries are recovering before we had a 3.2 percent growth rate, and everyone knows that Africa requires a growth rate of 8% to 10%, so we can now put a little more effort into the recovery.”
She also added that they were campaigning for a green recovery, a more long-term economic recovery, at the Economic Commission for Africa. They also had conducted studies that showed a greener recovery, a green industrial recovery, which would result in 450 percent more jobs in South Africa, 320 percent more jobs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.
What Does Africa Plan for the Future?
According to Songwe, Africa’s only way to open up their markets is if at least 60% of the African community are vaccinated. In case people become more optimistic and utilize the chance to take the vaccine, then chances of the virus surging will reduce.
The only way to open up our markets in a peaceful manner is to have a vaccine and to have 60 percent of our populations vaccinated. We hope that everyone in Africa who has access to vaccines will take advantage of them because it is important. Secondly, getting energy, not for home, but to channel to the continent’s industrialization is important. More so as the pandemic has crippled several economies in the continent.
However, there is also the need to develop all of our human potentials. Building capacity in young people helps develop information technology and business. That way, the young people know how to use information technology and become captains of industry in their respective fields.
Therefore, in summary, Songwe stated that the vaccine came first, followed by infrastructures like roads and electricity. The third step was to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area to open up our economies further, boost regional supply chains to add value on the continent before exporting, and, of course, improve human potential.