Yaounde, Cameroon, 26 November 2016 (ECA) - In spite of divergent currents underpinning development policy advocacy for African countries, transformative industrial policy remains crucial for the continent which also needs a more holistic approach to appraising and tackling corruption – especially being mindful of the international dimension of the problem – within the context of governance. This twin message has surfaced out of an intense debate co-organised in Yaounde by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC). The debate centred on two ECA publications: Transformative Industrial Policy for Africa and the African Governance Report IV.
Industrial Policy crucial for Africa
[Watch part of the discussion here: bit.ly/TIPA-video-Yde ]
Building on the main premise of the Transformative Industrial Policy for Africa report – which calls for smart and dynamic industrial policy directions for sustained and inclusive economic growth, the Director of the Sub-regional Office for Central Africa of ECA – Mr Antonio Pedro said African countries must now insist of three things: building strong human capital, creating and improving strong development-prone institutions and mapping policy coherence.
“It becomes an issue of urgent public policy for our member States to find the necessary set of policy instruments and interventions to enable our countries to sustain high rates of growth, generate reliable sources of revenue, optimise evolving demographics and the ‘youth bulge’ in order to attain greater macro-economic stability and, ultimately, achieve sustainable and resilient growth towards the upper-middle or advanced income status,” he noted.
Mr Pedro said through the smart implementation of industrial policy, which promotes resource-based industrialisation, the continent would expand its productive capabilities. But that would also require defying its initial comparative advantages – since such an advantage (which mostly favours the export of raw materials and the production of goods requiring low capabilities), can be easily eroded by competitors.
This posture got the approbation of the Director of Industry in Cameroon’s Ministry of Industry, Mines and Technological Development, Mr Mindjos Momeny, who said industrial policy enjoys a privileged place on Cameroon’s development agenda and that the competitiveness of its industrial sectors has greatly contributed to the resilience of the country’s economy within the context of the nose dive in commodity and oil prices.
Bridging industrial policy and governance
[Watch the discussion here: bit.ly/AGR-video-Yde]
Meanwhile the event’s host and Director of IRIC – Minister Plenipotentiary Mr Pierre Emmanuel Tabi made a fine segue between the industrial policy debate and that on dealing with corruption. In his view, Africa needs resolute industrial policies for its transformation but only within the context of good governance, multilateral arrangements and with the involvement of the private sector and civil society.
On his part, the President of Cameroon’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC, in French) – the Rev. Dr Dieudonné Massi Gams strongly concurred with the Africa Governance Report IV position that measuring corruption cannot be limited to a perception (which has so far been the predominant methodology used) but that the international dimension of the ill matters a great deal. He said CONAC is addressing the issue through a tool called PRECIS that aims at dealing with corruption emanating from multinationals code-named “corruption by the tigers” as opposed to “corruption by the flies.” He concluded that recourse to patriotism, the appropriation of Cameroon’s national strategy to fight corruption and curricular training on integrity and a culture of merit from basic school to university would help stem the problem.
Aside from structured appraisals of the report on governance and that on industrial policy by Dr Eric Mathias Owona Nguini of the University of Yaounde II and independent Finance Economist Mr Babissaka, respectively, senior civil servants in Cameroon, the Head of the Cameroon Chapter of Transparency International – Barrister Charles Nguini, student diplomats and many others made favourable and counter arguments on the positions taken by the writers of the two ECA reports.
The Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
P.O. Box 14935 Yaounde, Cameroon
Tel: (+237) 222504348 / 222504315 / 222504321
Abel Akara Ticha – Communication Officer
Tel: 237 222504348