Africa must focus on value addition to natural resources – World Bank

The World Bank’s Chief Economist for the African Region, Dr Albert Zeufack says Africa must focus on a new growth strategy focused on value-addition to her natural resources.

Dr Zeufack, who disclosed this in an interaction with a section of the media in Accra on Friday, blamed Africa’s underdevelopment on the export of its raw materials.

Dr Zeufack was on a three-day working visit to Ghana to, among other things, access the   World Bank numerous initiatives and support to Ghana.

He said Africa and for that matter, Ghana had lagged behind its counterparts in East Asia because of the region’s focus on the export of raw materials.

The Chief Economist for instance said Ghana and Malaysia were on the same growth trajectory in the 1960s, but today Malaysia Gross Domestic Product was ten times that of Ghana.

Dr Zeufack said Malaysia focused on industrialisation, value-addition and the export of value-added products, while Ghana and other African countries relied on the export of raw materials.

“Commodity prices are going to be low on the world market this year. Africa cannot continue to rely on the export of raw materials as its growth engine,” he said.

He said Africa’s growth in the past several decades had been largely commodity and mineral driven and had not been able to create the needed jobs to absorb the teeming unemployed.

Dr Zeufack said the mining sector was capital intensive and does not engender job creation.

The Chief Economist entreated Africa in general and Ghana in particular not rely on the traditional markets such as US  and UK for her exports, but  diversify her export market , saying the Asian market offered a good alternative  market for Africa.

For instance, the value of export of chocolate to Asia for 2018 was projected at  $16 billion, and said  Ghana could  position itself to take advantage of this opportunity by creating a congenial environment to attract chocolate manufacturing companies in Ghana to produce more of the chocolates to export to East  Asia.

Dr Zeufack said, Cote d’ Ivoire had already started to produce for the Asian market and Ghana should emulate her neighbour’s example.

Touching on the 2017 macroeconomic outlook  for countries  south of the Sahara,  he said Africa was yet coming out of its economic doldrums, saying SSA  would grow  by three per cent this year and inched up to 3.6 per cent in 2018.

The Chief Economist for the African Region highlighting his vision for the bank said he was going to focus on data collection, capacity building for the economic management members of the various African countries, and knowledge diffusion.

On what he termed as the data agenda, Dr Zeufack said he would strongly support data collection to collect relevant household data to help in accurate information for policy formulation, knowledge diffusion. He said, he would ensure that the various studies and research conducted by the bank influenced the decision of policy makers on policy formation.

By Kingsley Asare

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