Africa as seen in world context

Tuesday September 11 2018

Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and

Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and communications consultant with Midas Touché East Africa 

By Kasera Nick Oyoo

Browsing the social media space a few days ago, I came across a report titled Active with Africa, which was prepared by the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD).

Among the interesting bits in the report was the snapshot that Africa’s development potential is huge principally due to the continent’s demographic dividend of a young population…

Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into Africa have increased by 1.9 per cent, reaching $58 billion while remittances are expected to reach $66 billion.

Other relevant tidbits were:

• Africa’s inequality remains the highest in the world with a Gini coefficient of 0.43.

• In the last two decades, trade between Africa and the rest of the world has quadrupled.

• Despite Brexit, the EU remains Africa’s biggest trading partner, with over 30 per cent of the trade Africa does with the world.

• Africa’s exports remain traditional and undiversified.

• Services increased by over 93 per cent in a decade.

• Twenty-six African countries – including Tanzania –have a national strategy on Industrial Development.

• Twenty-two per cent of the working age population in Africa starts a new business – which is the highest rate in the world.

• The share of manufacturing to Africa’s GDP declined 6 per cent since 1990.

• Less than 13 per cent of SMEs are financed by banks.

• Translating the competencies acquired from formal marketable skills to compete in the workforce remains a challenge.

• Unemployment rate for youths with tertiary education is more than twice that of youths with only primary school education.

• Only 11 per cent of students in secondary schools is enrolled in vocational education programmes, compared with 21 per cent in Asia and the Pacific.

• Some 54 per cent of the population in 46 African countries is still considered “dimensionally poor”.

• About 35 per cent of children under-5 in sub-Sahara Africa suffers from malnutrition – although this has dropped by 10 percentage points since 1995.

• Gender inequality is highest in Africa as women achieve only 87 per cent of men’s level of human development; and,

• The informal sector accounts for 80 per cent of Africa’s labour force – and unemployment remains a challenge for up to 50 per cent for some African countries.

These facts and figures are mind-boggling, and we can draw many conclusions from them – even though they have been ‘researched by not-so-good friends of Africa in the West!’

They tell us in a snapshot what we already know. For instance: that the education which African nations provide at great cost to themselves is not doing the youth any good – as they mostly end up educated but with no vocational skills that can earn them a living.

This should not come as a surprise, as we can see Zambia and Kenya struggling to contain influxes of artisanal workers in key economic sectors from neighbouring countries…

Universal healthcare goals are being undermined by malnutrition in countries in which 54 per cent of their populations are considered ‘dimensionally poor.’

Should we, then, be surprised that there are thousands of nationals willing to die trying to escape a life of drudgery from Ethiopia and Somalia all the way to Guinea, Libya, Mali and Mauritania?

Those of us in the Financial Sector are still investing in ‘Biko: Mshiko NJE NJE’ – for all practical purposes a game of gambling – rather than use our skills and knowledge to assist in finding products which can better finance the informal sector, currently the highest employer in Tanzania.

On the other hand, the OECD report clearly shows the place of remittances by the Diaspora for Africa’s development.

It is unfortunate that, to-date, Tanzanians in the Diaspora continue to be treated within the prism of politics – especially those who took up foreign nationalities to make it easier for them to obtain employment in their newly adopted nations abroad.

Finally, inequality ought to be right up there in our development planning agenda. After all, a well-to-do country is not the one in which the poor drive; it is the one in which the rich use public ways and means..