ABCDE 2011: A critical perspective on African growth and economic development

Infrastructures, technological development and economic growth at large are commonly considered as key indicators of development. A parallel session at the ABCDE 2011 event focussed specifically on Africa successes and their reasons.

After the session, we had the opportunity to catch up with a participant with a rather critical perspective on the session and on African development at large.  According to Dr. John Akude from the German Development Institute one thing is to read statistics about Africa growth and economic successes. Rhetoric and reality are different, and in fact it is a very different thing to travel to Africa and talk to people from Africa: you don’t see all these successes and, more important, people don’t really feel them.

The ABCDE session discussed the penetration of mobile phones in several African countries and how this is considered a successful example of provision of infrastructures. However, when you travel to Nigeria, Mr. Akude own country of origin, you sure see that mobiles are more and more common. However, the other side of the coin of this success story is that the government has started to neglect landlines maintenance. The same is happening for post, which appears to be not function anymore in Nigeria.

So “what is development?” asks Mr. Akude. “Why should you throw away something old, get something new, and call it development? Look at the western world, landlines are still functioning.”

Maybe development should be something different.

Mr. Akude further elaborates and underlines how people don’t “feel” the growth we read about in books and journals. The government should really find ways to make sure the benefits of the economic growth reach the people. Yet, the issue of redistribution is not well tackled in conferences such as the ABCDE.

Moreover, according to Mr. Akude “we get too satisfied with too little.” Instead, economists should talk about success from the point of view of what is possible in terms of growth. “If Africans politicians do their work, Africa should record a minimum growth of 8% per year.

In conclusion, from Mr. Akude “we shouldn’t just be swallowing the statistics” but we need to make sure that when we talk about Africa successes these are felt by the people. “Any economic success that is not felt by the people is useless.”

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One Response to ABCDE 2011: A critical perspective on African growth and economic development

  1. My comment a bout the critical perspective on African growth and economic development.
    As an African Inventor and President of African Center of Adapted Technology Promotion,
    I can say that there is no developpement outof Peace in Africa.

    The best way to developpe Africa is to improve new technologies and food preservation in Africa.

    All Africans must to jouned toghter for food preservation and conservation post recolt.

    Africa has a good potential ressorces but its not developped.
    We must to work heard to improve our economic.

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