The Executive Director of the International Development Economics Associates (IDEAS), Mr Charles Abugre, has called on West African leaders to properly manage their countries’ natural resources to alleviate poverty in the sub-region.
He bemoaned that it was inappropriate for communities endowed with natural resources to continue to remain impoverished with no proper health facilities, good roads and modern educational facilities.
“There is the need for deliberate action from various governments to prioritise the welfare of communities where most natural resources are derived from and give such areas major facelifts,” he added.
He was speaking in Accra yesterday at a three-day conference aimed at addressing the role natural resource management could play in reducing economic and social inequalities in West Africa.
The programme aimed at, among others, bringing visibility to policy makers on the connection between resource independence and multiple inequalities in the West African Region.
Participants were drawn from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries including Senegal, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
According to Mr Abugre, it was very important for the resources in the sub-region to be managed to the point that it significantly addressed poverty and inequality, adding that when inequality rises, it promotes poverty at the community level.
This, he said, could also lead to the marring of peace and tranquility in a given area.
Touching on the target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he noted that one of the SDGs goals was to achieve and sustain massive income growth for the bottom 40 per cent of the population by 2030.
He cited Burkina Faso as one of the countries working towards achieving that target.
The sub-region, he said, accounted for one third of the estimated $50 billion dollars of private wealth that left the African continent annually, free of tax.
He, therefore, underscored the need for pragmatic steps to be taken by authorities to salvage the situation and promote development on the continent.
On her part, the West African Regional Director of Ford Foundation, Dr Catherine Chinedum Aniagolu, described Africa as a rich continent with poor people, saying efforts must be relentlessly made towards making all Africans as rich as the continent.
“There is nothing impossible to achieve. It is up to governments and every African, to rise up and combine efforts and resources to drastically reduce, if not totally eradicating poverty from the continent.”
“Let us learn from history and ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of our forefathers,” she stressed.
Chief Analyst at the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr Winfred Nelson, in his address reiterated the need for issues concerning natural resources to be prioritised because “natural resources are critically important when it comes to exploring avenues to generate huge revenue for the development of any country or community”.
BY RAISSA SAMBOU