The recent Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire had a wealth of “take- home” for the participants and also for those who followed the proceedings remotely.
One of the key revelations was premised on Joe Studwell’s analysis and conclusion that the pace of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, much like China’s in the early stages, might have been slowed down by their top-down approach to economic development.
A fundamental attribute of this model is mass production, which focuses heavily on industrialisation, deliberately avoiding the market forces at the bottom.
China’s success was due to the bottom-up approach where, among others, agriculture and rural industries, were promoted.
Analysts believe it is through this that China discovered the answer to the puzzle, spurring the economic transformation in which it revels.
If, indeed, we are to go by this argument, then Africa is in better position to move its economy forward, given the natural capital and the percentage of those already involved in small-scale farming and other small and medium size businesses.
Today, 60 per cent of Africa’s population, relies on agriculture to make ends meet, 80 per cent being women.
This is remarkable as Africa could comfortably feed itself, were it not for the $40 billion annual postharvest losses.
Africa must begin to pride itself in its indigenous progress and shun overreliance on handouts under the guise of donor aid.
A closer examination of this supposed altruism, reveals that these inflows are cosmetic as they translate into immense Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) that could be avoided if we natured cottage industries and tried to survive within our limits.
Although the Africa Progress Panel report estimates illicit financial flows at $50 billion, the figure could be higher, given the wide scope of illegal activities that define the IFF.
The IFF transcends tax evasion and corruption, covering crimes to ecosystems such as illegal logging, illegal mining, and poaching, not to mention human trafficking and drug counterfeiting.
This capital flight deprives the continent of much needed resources that could be used in poverty alleviation such as financing agriculture value chains and improvement of infrastructure leading to inclusive and sustainable development.
The IFF have been described as an African problem with a global solution.
It calls for concerted efforts from the developed and developing countries, with support from the public and private sectors.
But, sadly, it will continue to lag behind, given that a number of those who should be fighting it, are beneficiaries.
The continent must now look inward for answers to its economic ailments and one way is through the South-South cooperation.
With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in place, Africa must explore options to beat the fast approaching deadline.
By building on success stories and lessons, Africa will accelerate the pace of agricultural and rural development for sustainable progress.
This can only happen within a framework that brings everyone together and this is what culminated in the establishment of the Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (Ebafosa), a pan-African policy framework and implementation platform.
The platform is meant to enable tapping into every skill, networks, partnerships, and resources and directing them to specific objectives for the benefit of these countries.
It will strengthen regional institutions and enable African countries to have clout in the international economic arena.
Ms Kadenge is the vice-president (women), Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (Ebafosa). [email protected]