By a Special Correspondent in Kigali
In an era where Africa is striving to fully implement its continental free trade concept to promote trade liberalisation and market oriented reforms within Africa; boost economic growth; and increase diversity, and integration of African economies and markets.
Sub-Saharan renowned business and infrastructure development expert Dr Tinashe Manzungu has urged African countries to work towards bridging the infrastructural gap in the continent for the restoration of the glory of Africa’s economies.
Speaking at the recently ended 4th edition of the Jamie Pajoel InternationaI (JPI) Annual Leadership Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, Dr Manzungu expressed some concerned on the infrastructural challenges that are crippling the growth of trade and economic activities within the continent.
“So the key word is prosperity, it is not about making business for Africans, but we are saying for our continent to be a prosperous continent we have to first address the challenges on the ground that are depriving the growth of the economies or the glory of the economies.
We are not supposed to only look for profits when we do our business, but ESGs Environmental and Social Govenance. We ate not managing well in this front as Africans, and that is what we need to look into and get answers to.
“You will see that with statistics, one in five people in Africa have electricity meaning to say that there is a shortage of infrastructure in energy you only see that 2 to 50 % in Africa has access to clean water, we have only 4 % of African farm land being irrigated and the 96 percent does not have irrigation meaning to say we have a gap in terms of provision of infrastructure to provide ourselves with food that we want, more than 60 percent of our population lacks basic sanitation facilities and according to Africa Infrastructure Diagnostics (AID) you will find out that in Africa its only 25 % that is paved by tarmac and 75 percent is dusty roads,” he said.
He said, Africa should be developed mainly by Africa, with the growing population in the continent, it means that Africa can produce and consume its own products. Dr Manzungu said African countries are currently having the same infrastructure that was left by their former colonisers adding that there is a need to make trade more lucrative within Africa as currently trading within the continent are being strained my poor infrastructure.
He said, “So you will see that also the cost of doing business in Africa is plus 30 to 40 % expensive because of the poor rail network and harbour facilities in Africa. It is actually cheap to trade with a country outside of Africa than within Africa when it comes to logistics. To deal with Zimbabwe from Nigeria for example, how do we get to Zimbabwe do we have a railway line that is sufficient, meaning to say that whatever we are doing, which means if your cost price was US$10 dollars it will no longer be US$10 dollars but actually US$10 dollars plus 30 or 40%, and what does that mean to our overall prosperity as a continent, is domed, we are going nowhere.”
“Therefore, these are the issues now that we have to solve as Africa, we need to close the gaps for this pandemic to end and for us to look into the Africa that we want but this will certainly come with a big cost. According to the UN secretary general report’s estimation- we need 72 billion from now going to 2030, as Africa for the continent to come back to its glory, and where this money will come from.That is a big question, it should come from you people! Generated by entrepreneurs! Remember, it is not the politicians who build the country. It is the business people.”
He also urged leaders from the private sectors in Africa who attended the conference to also take the lead on initiatives to restore the economic glory of the continent in partnership with the governments.
The conference, which was held under the theme: ‘Build to last’ comes at a time when the business world is increasingly becoming competitive and dynamic, necessitating competencies to adapt and succeed.
As such it was held with intentions of creating a platform for leaders who can strategies effectively, act decisively, drive performance, cooperate successfully, and invent imaginatively.
JPI is a globally recognised Non Governmental Organisation with operations in Canada and Nigeria where it is registered under the government of Nigeria and Canada to serve as a platform for human capital development.