Singapore’s growth model, fit for Central Africa?

Malabo 27 September 2019 (ECA) -  “It’s not an economic miracle per se. It’s the result of effective and efficient planning and implementation,” said Mama Keita who heads the Reforms and Policies for Economic Diversification Section at the ECA Office for Central Africa.

She spoke on Thursday in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, during at ad hoc expert group meeting on “Facilitating the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through Development Planning”

Development planning  and operationalization of plans and strategies through strong policies and reforms are crucial, she said, noting that almost all Central African countries do plan but that there’s a “tendency not to use the instrument at its full potential”

“The full cycle of planning, formulation, operationalization, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting must be meticulously attained in other to achieve development goals,” she emphasized.

As the experts brainstormed to identify, discuss and agree on possible SDGs accelerators in Central Africa, there was a focus on SDGs 8 and 9, which cover ‘Good Jobs and Economic Growth’ and ‘Innovation and Infrastructure’ respectively. It was agreed that the subregion possesses all the ‘ingredients’ for quick wins on these goals. 

The group also looked at the patterns of GDP per capita in Central African economies, noting that some countries have recorded very high GDP per capita but that the levels are hardly sustained for a long period.  

This was juxtaposed with Singapore, which has seen a steady rise in per capita GDP from 100 to 68,000.

Ms. Keita said Singapore strategically moved from a labour intensive to a capital intensive and then to a technology intensive growth model. “They are now moving towards a knowledge-based economy,” she added. 

Can this model inspire Central African countries, which have more in terms of natural resources than Singapore? Ms. Keita said this is possible but that there has to be efficient and strategic planning and policy-making.

“It has to be a deliberate attempt by governments to coordinate economic decisions and make the right choices.” 

Other recommendations include the need for creating an enabling business climate, involvement of political leaders at the highest level of government to give the process more leverage, and training of human resources for implementing the SDGs.

The meeting took place on the margins of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts for Central Africa (ICE2019).