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MIASA holds second policy conference aimed at accelerating Africa’s economic transformation

The Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) has held a two-day Policy Conference in Accra, Ghana this week.

The conference was held at the University of Ghana from Tuesday, November 21, to Wednesday, November 22, on the theme: “Accelerating Africa’s Economic Transformation Towards Shared Prosperity and Sustainability”.

The conference was co-organised with one of MIASA’s German partners, the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), and the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, Legon.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the Conference, Dr. Susann Baller, the German Director of MIASA said it is important as it provides the platform to discuss policy relevance while giving policymakers the chance to exchange ideas.

She said with a focus on the economic transformation of Africa, it is the hope of MIASA that there will be a deeper insight into how that will be accelerated through the discussions at the end of the two-day Conference.

She noted that MIASA wants to use the Policy Conference to inspire policymakers to make politics more impactful toward the shared prosperity and sustainability of Africa.

“With this Conference, we want to see how we also foster economic transformation and prosperity in a better way

“What kinds of things are needed for economic transformation and what kind of challenges are associated with it,” Dr. Susann Baller explained.

In an address, the Provost of the College of Humanities at the University of Ghana, Prof. Daniel Ofori said she has no doubt that the knowledge and insight shared at the Policy Conference will inspire innovative policy solutions.

He said he is optimistic that the conference will bring up new ideas, forge connections, and lay the foundation for impactful collaboration towards Africa’s development.

Delivering a keynote address, Economist and Vice President of the African Development Bank, Prof. Kevin Chika Urama made the point that to continue to accelerate growth on the African continent, countries should champion policies and projects that are climate-smart and sustainable.

Acknowledging that Africa has the least transforming and least industrializing economies, the Economist stressed that leaders must address challenges in their countries and take advantage of the many significant opportunities on the continent.

He admonished leaders of the African countries to invest in industries that will process the many raw materials on the continent before they are exported to other continents.

“We need to carefully think about our industrial policy. Exporting raw materials and importing finished products later should be a thing of the past. We should invest in the industries of our raw materials to create jobs, build roads, add value to our resources, to reduce migration and the cost of logistics,” Prof. Kevin Chika Urama said.

He added that he is optimistic that if African countries implement the right policies, their economies will be transformed to bring the needed development.

On his part, Stefan Dercon from the University of Oxford argued that every country's development and approaches to development will differ from one strategy to the other.

Speaking on the topic 'Gambling for Development', he said a country needs to have an elite bargain that involves a shared commitment to growth and development.

He said any country that wants to develop should have a serious national commitment led by those in power.

According to Stefan Dercon leaders need to be serious about long-term peace and stability if they want to develop their countries.

He admonished leaders of countries to “use economic advice from research to shift the underlying objects towards growth and development.”

He indicated that growth and seeing through sensible development policies require those who can stop development to be committed to the development and find an implicit agreement to see it through with sufficient stability, self-awareness of what is possible, and accountability.

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