New Haven, USA, 14 April 2014 (ECA) - A decade after former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s made his landmark ‘fork in the road’ speech to the General Assembly calling for the reform of the global body, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Carlos Lopes told the Yale African Development Colloquium, Monday that “the fork in the road for Africa, now points to one direction and one choice, which is the path to industrialization.”
He highlighted numerous developments in Africa that constitute a radical departure from what he described as “deep divisions and underperforming collective institutions that marked the UN member States in 2003.”
“The world is very different today than it was in 2003 and while Africa is now at a fork in the road, this metaphor needs to be contextualized to reflect the developments taking place on the continent today,” said Lopes, adding, “I do not see indecisiveness on the part of continent; on the contrary, there is heightened assertiveness.”
He said a new brand of Africa is emerging; “one that exudes confidence, attractiveness for investments and that has considerably lowered risk, with investment reaching US$50 billion in 2012.”
Yet, cautioned Lopes, Africa still needs to move from 5 to 6 % average growth to the magic 7% - the minimum required to double average incomes in a decade.
“There is still a long way to go as poverty remains high, access to social services weak and pervasive conflict undermines gains,” he said.
He told the gathering that if Africa’s aim is to become “a prosperous and integrated continent in peace with itself”, its negotiating stance has to be consistent with - and supportive of its transformative agenda, as envisioned for 2063.
He stressed that the Continent must innovate in the business of transformation and called for policy tools and economic enablers.
“The commonality between the investments in Prato, Guanajuato and Itú-São Paulo is that they have attracted the attention of Africa’s number one trading partner: China,” he said, adding: The lesson for Africa is that industrialization is a competitive business.
“The continent needs to find its own recipe, its own miracle recipe, if it wants to become one the factory floors of the world,” he stressed.
The Yale statement comes in the heels of the 2014 Economic Report on Africa, launched in New York over the weekend and in Abuja on 30th March. The Report urges Africa to build credible institutions to boost industrialization. As noted by Carlos Lopes during the launch, to succeed, “industrial policy has to be organic, it has to be contextualized, it has to be specifically African.”
Present at the Colloquium were: Mr. Ernesto Zedillo, Former President of Mexico, Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor, University of Ghana and Shanta Devarajan, Chief Economist of the Middle East and North Africa Region, The World Bank.