Reading Lee Kuan Yew’s book From Third World To First two years ago, these words in the first chapter : There are books to teach you how to build a house ,how to repair engines ,how to write a book. But I have not seen a book on how to build a nation out of a desperate collection of immigrants from China ,British India and the Dutch Indies, or how to make a living for its people when its former economic role as a entrepot of the region is becoming defunct, struck me and realized how a leadership with vision can transform a society into an economic power. His country Singapore is there for all to see.
But what do we see on our continent -misery, poverty, war and hopelessness. The youth today cannot find jobs and as such journey through perilous conditions all to look for better living conditions. News of people dying on the Sahara Desert and on the high seas is rife.
These are all happening when continent has all that it takes to be prosperous. Development and transformation occurs in various forms either through financial, social, or a specific sector development; essentially, it is about improving or changing a situation.
Africa has experienced unprecedented growth over the past decade and has been remarkably resilient to the global economic crisis (Economic Transformation for Africa’s Development, 2013), Many leaders have voiced out the importance of developing Africa and that has brought about the Agenda 2063 by the African union which is the AU’s vision of having a strategic framework for the socio-economic development of the African continent in the next fifty years.
The Agenda 2063 also seeks to hasten the implementation of both past and existing initiatives for sustainable growth and development. Leaders in Africa have taken on different ways to financing projects in their respective countries.
For instance, in Ghana, President Nana Akufo Addo with initiatives such as the one district, one factory chooses to finance development and transformation through development of the private sector whilst, the National Development Plan of South Africa draws on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society (National Development Plan 2030 | South African Government, 2018). Nonetheless, what have these innovative ideas and strategies been able to do in terms of development and transformation? Depending on how you look at it, not much. There is no clear plan on sustainability as well as means of going beyond AID in Africa.
The journey of Africa’s leadership seems to have taken over a long turn as people with innovative ideas and skills are less empowered and motivated. The famous Warren G. Bennis once said “leadership is the ability to transform vision into reality”. Political instability has contributed immensely to loss of labour, loss of infrastructural development, loss of investments due to political differences and a leader’s refusal to continue past administration projects. Africa has inadequate systems to monitor natural products and lack the machinery for mass production of commodities and or products. Integrated set of skills and talents are inadequately managed with skills not clearly placed in the job market. It is not how much raw materials are available but how much knowledge has been developed or applied that determines how developed a country becomes.
IF I WERE AN AFRICAN LEADER
There are various ways and or forms to finance development and transformation, and as an African leader, I will focus on industrialization and value addition to raw materials and commodities. I will lift the levies on the export of raw materials and products over a period of five years to enable citizens to patronize locally manufactured products.
I will setup and provide the infrastructure and the needed technical assistance for processing and refining of products locally. A special unit under the Trade and Industry Ministry will be resourced to provide free technical assistance to businesses that export a minimum of 50% of their products by helping them identify markets and developing the marking opportunities for these products internationally.
Ensuring that these are sustainable I will place emphasis on strengthening my country’ banking environment and the Ghana Stock Exchange. There are enough scholarly literature to link an efficient banking system and the stock market to the economic development of countries. A stock market fails if it is not conducive to the exchange of stocks. It is also the same way that a dysfunctional banking system that does not provide private credit to business to undertake profitable venture is not worthwhile existing. A well-functioning stock exchange mobilizes financial resources at a lower cost and channels it efficiently .
International financing arrangement will also be one of my major focuses and I will prudently borrow from international markets ensuring that these new loans finance only projects and infrastructure which are able to generate returns to pay for themselves. All new highways will be tolled and the money used to repay the loans. I will pursue finance for projects that have been reviewed to be commercially viable supporting proven entrepreneurs with government guarantees and technical assistance to expand, existing business.
As an African leader, I will employ Support from Development partners as well as pursue and accept budgetary and development support from international partners particularly for sectors including education, healthcare and employment generation. I accept this is not the long-term solution, but we will accept any help available as long as it does not come with an expectation of commitment that will be detrimental to our benefit.
I will strengthen all state institutions particularly the ones involved in the collection of taxes, supervision of state owned enterprises, judiciary, investigation and prosecution of corruption. I will transform the Audit service to an independent autonomous body that is resourced and mandated to provide annual audit for all ministries, state agencies, state owned enterprises, local authorities and etc. These audit reports will form the basis of expedited prosecution under special anticorruption laws in special courts. The law under this anticorruption will have consensus, but be clear on penalties and have stringent prison terms for theft and causing of financial loss to the state.
Entrepreneurship will also be encouraged among citizens by introducing entrepreneurship from junior high schools. I will ensure that funds are made available to help young entrepreneurs set up their business and in turn pay government back. In terms of sustainability, measures will be put in place to monitor progress of business whilst exposing them to the international market. Young entrepreneurs will be acknowledged every year to motivate others to put in much effort in their productivity.
Technology and innovation strategy will also be another key focus. I will set a special ministry in charge of technology and innovation that will work directly with telecommunications and other technological firms. A target of 85% shall be set yearly towards technological achievements in the area of communication, transportation etc. Paying of toll shall be increased by 2% in urban areas and stickers shall be made available for drivers who want easy pass with a monthly payment plan. The monies collected shall be invested into the development of roads and railways in the country.
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