Speakers at the launch of Africa Development Indicator for 2007 have called on the World Bank to consult Africa’s statisticians and policy makers in their analysis so that they would know where the continent fell short.
That would enable them to make the necessary corrections to bring improvements in their economies.
Dr. Joe L.S. Abbey, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Analysis and Dr. Grace Bediako, Government Statistician noted that the absence of data gaps such as the sources of statistics and deficiencies made the report hazy making it difficult to domesticate it to the advantage of Ghana’s peculiar circumstances.
They said the World Bank must encourage African countries to do the jobs themselves rather than it doing it for them since the real jobs started from within the African countries.
The two statisticians said the World Bank Report must help the continent to learn from its mistakes, one of which was to train professionals into fields that would be employable on the continent rather than African countries losing them to the West.
The World Bank report on Africa’s Development Indicator for 2007 showed that though Africa was growing, the growth remained vulnerable.
Under the theme: Spreading and Sustaining Growth In Africa, the report, formed part of the Development Dialogue Series of the World Bank and identified stronger and more diverse export growth as a key factor needed to sustain growth and reduce volatility.
The report, presented by Mr Jorge Arbache, Senior Economist of the Bank said growth was low and volatile in Ghana like in other developing countries
He said Ghana had experienced growth acceleration in GDP from 1993 to 2005.
Mr Arbache attributed the spike in growth in some African countries like Angola and Nigeria, which are oil and producing countries because of boom in those commodities although 18 non-mineral economies with more than a third of African people were also doing well.
The report suggested an increase in investments and productivity as well as improvements in institutions to take the African renaissance to the next level.
Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, Executive Director of the Development Policy Institute said the suggestion of increased investments and productivity and improvements in institutions was laudable but for the institutions in Africa to work efficiently, the systems, rules and procedures that governed the way the economies were run must be vibrant.
He said it was expected generally that investments in infrastructure would be correlated positively with economic growth but in the case of Africa, some studies had found either a neutral or even negative relationship between the two.
Dr. Thompson noted that the mediating variable was not the quality of the physical infrastructure alone but also the infrastructure services.
He said “if you build a highway and allow part or most of it to be turned into an open market for livestock like the Kaneshie-Mallam Highway, don’t be surprised if the economic returns to that highway are low or negative.”
He said the report indicated that on the factory floor, many African economies could compete favourably with China and India, but because of weak infrastructure and poor quality infrastructure services, indirect costs ranged between 18 and 35 per cent in Africa while that accounted for only 8.0 per cent in China.
He said effective institutions also required the skills to initiate, manage and to sustain them, which the report said were lacking in Africa.
Dr. Thompson said this raised the issue of the brain-drain adding that the West, which had been the largest beneficiary of this phenomenon, had for obvious reasons, not placed it on the development agenda and seemed more concerned about protecting intellectual property than discussing that issue.
He said the irony of it all was that after the West had taken the best from Africa, they rejected the unskilled labour whose productivity was naturally low and thus added little to the continental development efforts.
He said if the West would send back the professionals who had been trained with millions of tax-payers money, and with the right policies and institutions in place, the continent could improve on its productivity and move it into the ranks of the fastest developing countries.
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