Africa: Ready for Agenda 2063?

Africa: Is Africa Ready for Agenda 2063?


21 April 2016


Image: 3 AGENDA 2063 A global strategy to optimize use of Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans. Aiming to encourage discussion among all stakeholders, “Agenda 2063” is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the short, medium and long term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years.


In fact, China’s financial commitment to the continent has been increasing over the years, from $5 billion in 2006, $10 billion in 2009 to $60 billion last year.

It is a fact that China has become a major investment partner in Africa, overtaking Western countries that have sometimes offered piece-meal solutions to problems on the continent.

Everywhere you go in African countries, you are assured of feeling the presence of the Chinese, from multi-billion-dollar firms to small businesses like restaurants.

China has prioritised investing in areas such as mining, infrastructure development, including roads and railways, construction, energy and manufacturing.

But now, China has made a deliberate effort to massively invest on the continent and partner the African Union to achieve its Agenda 2063.

Agenda 2063 is all about the industrialisation of the continent, which should have been fully realised by that year.

No other country has come out clearer on supporting this agenda than what China has done.

The fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at the Johannesburg Forum for China-Africa Cooperation summit last year that his country has set aside $60 billion for the industrialisation of the continent is proof enough of the intention.

In fact, China’s financial commitment to the continent has been increasing over the years, from $5 billion in 2006, $10 billion in 2009 to $60 billion last year.

It is expected that more funds will be committed as Africa’s industrialisation agenda progresses.

But the major question being asked at various fora is: Are African countries ready for the industrial take-off?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question could be very disappointing.

Not all countries in Africa are ready for this envisaged industrialisation, presenting challenges even in the achievement of the Agenda 2063.

On the other hand, there is no way China can fully commit its resources to a continent which appears ill-prepared to handle it.

It is time that countries on the continent strive to avail sufficient conditions and experiences that can project them as desired destinations for any investor.

Most countries on the continent are still grappling with archaic laws in areas such as procurement, taxation and investment, which make it difficult for investors to freely do business.

The ease of doing business is one issue that must be uppermost on the minds of African leaders, even if it means copying how other countries relaxed their laws to attract investors.

When China decided to enter into the period of reform and opening up of its economy in the late 1970s, it ensured that the necessary conditions accompanied this ambitious route.

This saw China’s industrialisation base booming as more companies were attracted to invest in the country.

Within a short period in a country where development was concentrated in the rural areas, in agriculture specifically, everyone was now drifting towards the urban areas which were slowly taking shape thanks to industrialisation.

Very soon, China was not the same country again as it ensured that it balanced between industrialisation and continued development of agriculture in the rural areas.

Today, the country has completely changed as it is fully industrialised, although the authorities would want to approach this with less enthusiasm, insisting they are still a developing country.

There is no doubt that China is endowed with vast experiences from its successful growth of industrialisation, which African countries can tap from.

The history of countries on the continent under colonialism is not pleasing and the situation got worse when the former colonisers abandoned them at independence.

In the 1980s and 1990s, most countries on the continent turned to structural adjustment programmes spearheaded by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

These proved disastrous and up to now, there is no country that can point to success that was brought by these programmes.

Now that China is coming, a number of issues need to be sorted out on the continent for the Asian economic giant to be comfortable with fully committing its resources.

African countries have to address their security situation which has left some of them exposed in recent years.

The leaders must bear in mind that no one would want to commit their resources where they are not secure and China is not an exception.

The terrorist threats which appear to be escalating, with Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, jihadists attacks in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad, the attacks in Tunisia and those at Kenya’s Garissa University College all leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

Another area that African countries have to deal with for them to assure investors is the emergence of public health hazards.

This manifested itself recently with the outbreak of the Ebola virus which claimed more than 15 000 in three countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa – although some analysts say the death toll was underestimated.

The spread of HIV is also another health threat on the continent, although most of the countries are now realising a decline in the prevalence rate due to deliberate programmes to fight the virus.

In Zimbabwe, for example, the HIV prevalence rate has declined from nearly 30 percent in 1997 to 13,8 percent as of last year.

This encourages prospective investors who will be assured of a healthy labour force that can contribute much to the industrialisation of the continent.

There is need to tighten the policy environment in some African countries, which have to do away with traditional cooperation modes that are not useful in this technological era.

Much investment is needed in changing the mentality of government officials who might be still stuck in the old way of doing business.

For instance, why should investors grapple with paperwork from office to office to have their licences, permits and other necessary documents processed?

Why not establish a one-stop shop where the investors can access all the required papers for them to start their operations?

African governments must established specifically designed websites with all the necessary information such as laws, requirements and opportunities and make these easily accessible to their source markets.

So, every African country must strive to clear institutional barriers that can easily offend would-be investors.

The countries on the continent have also to deal with their external debts for them to start on a clean slate with the Chinese investors.

Some of them have so much debt that it can prevent them from accessing funds from even willing investors from China.

The reality is that China is not going back on its investment policy in Africa.

It is now up to African leaders to identify the fundamental development problems and challenges of their continent to be ready for the investment.

They also need to set realistic goals and formulate effective implementation mechanisms for the industrialisation policy.

© 2016 AllAfrica

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