By Bainkong Kelese Godlove
Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation was at the last week China Africa Poverty Eradication conference on the platform of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and he spoke on the need to more vigorously fight poverty in African countries, taking a cue from China.
What is your reading of the level of poverty in Africa and the approach different governments pursue to alleviate it?
The level of poverty in Africa is decreasing but not fast enough to be satisfactory. Chronic poverty is still rampant. Concerning the policies, I believe there is mixed outcome. Some policies are working but not in all the cases. It would be good for countries to be persistent and insistent in doing a number of things. Of course they must invest in infrastructure and that is where cooperation with China can yield much benefits. They must also improve governance overall so that they can provide basic services to their people because those services such as healthcare, access to water and electricity etc are very important in dealing with poverty. African governments have got to ensure that growth is inclusive, that it is happening at very high levels and that the growth is double-digit and are more importantly happening in areas where the people live for them to benefit. So, dealing with the agriculture, informal sector, for instance, is extremely important to addressing poverty. But more importantly, Africa has to address the issue of its mentality and mindset. Africa has to recognize that poverty is not a destiny. That it is something that policymakers with good leadership can address sustainably in the continent.
But governance in the continent is not tailored towards combating poverty. Ethiopia is an example of a country that has been successful in reducing poverty, the same thing with Rwanda and a few other countries. We need to have more Ethiopias and Rwandas in Africa to significantly limit and why not completely eradicate poverty. One thing with these countries is that they have very good and visionary leadership, accountable for the people and work to ensure that they are doing the right thing to reduce poverty. There is lack of capacity and critical skills, institutional capacities and there is also the issue of mindset that the people need to work upon. If you build the capacities of people, they become self-sustainable, especially through education and skill building. Here, they will be able to lift themselves out of poverty without necessarily the help of government. Capacity development is therefore very important in poverty alleviation.
What is the place of industrialization in poverty alleviation?
The most important thing is to know if you have launched yourself in a trajectory that will take you into becoming a more industrialized society. I believe Ethiopia has taken that step because there is first of all a consistent industrial policy that has been articulated very carefully and implemented across the board. Ethiopia is also paying attention to international value chains and how it can get into that and add value to their commodities. The country is also having some serious alliances with China from where manufacturing industries would migrate out with gains such as labour and cost of production. The advancement of Chinese companies into more high technological areas is also beneficial to the country and population. Others can learn from this experience and tailor their industrialization policy towards attaining these goals.