Making Africa relevant

DIAMOND POLISHINGPrince Ariyo
\nOn April 29, 2015, Sadc Heads of State and Government meeting in Harare adopted Southern Africa’s Industrialisation Strategy, which is geared towards transforming the region into a value-addition and beneficiation hub. In 2011, Nigeria’s then Ambassador to Namibia, Prince Adegboyega Christopher Ariyo, prepared a paper in which he states his case that without industrialisation, Africa is doomed.

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The following are excerpts from that paper.

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I should indicate that while working on this paper, my mind was preoccupied with the following questions: Why do we need to discuss the industrialisation of Africa?

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What are the African problems that make massive industrialisation a panacea to these problems?

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Has there been a successful industrialisation programme in the world that solved problems similar to the ones facing Africa?

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How prepared is Africa for the development of industrialisation strategies? What are the requisites to industrialise Africa?

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What can Africa offer to accelerate the pace of her industrialisation? What impact has the present continental arrangement on the industrialisation of Africa?

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Are the present political, (policy) architectures and governance fragmentations in Africa problems affecting negatively her industrialisation?

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What strategy (strategies) can we deploy to industrialise Africa within the next 10 years?

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Before I proceed, to attempt to address the questions, let me state a fundamental yardstick, to see my prism from where I addressed the questions and logically the conclusions and recommendations.

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Undignified position

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In the words of Walter Rodney, the South has been consigned to be hewers of wood and drawers of water.

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The developed world collects the raw materials from the South, adds value to it and sells them to the South at a rate that keeps the South in poverty.

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Adam Smith, a proponent of capitalism, and Karl Max, the apostle of socialism as well as their followers have pitched their tents as to which school we should follow to develop.

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Is it the capitalist or the socialist road that the world should follow?

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The exchanges that ensued from the works of the two schools have not developed Africa.

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Africa has become the dumping ground for sub-standard goods. World trade has been perpetually skewed against Africa.

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The chances of Africa’s prosperity, as it is now, could therefore be perpetually determined by the North unless we devise our own roadmap for our development.

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It is my belief that the desire and in fact the programme of all our governments is to raise the dignity of Africans to the level they were before the adventures of colonising forces, who destroyed our political, economic, social and cultural developmental processes and imposed their own developmental processes on us.

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Sense of mission

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There must be a sense of shared vision of Africa – never again to be subjugated in all spheres of life.

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I do not share the view that you don’t have to re-event the wheel. There is no one-size-fits-all formula.

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That guru of public administration, Mary Parker Follet, canonically pronounced that the situation must dictate what one should do.

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This has been elegantly coined the “theory of here and now”.

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The situation of Africa is different from the rest of the world. Hence, whatever we wish to do in Africa must never be guided wholesale by whatever theory or solutions worked in the USA, Europe or Asia.

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Some have colonised, exploited, misappropriated and looted resources from other countries.

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African human resources have been used to develop other continents without payment and even now African-trained personnel are working for the development of other continents.

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In Africa, not all of us have programmes to provide social certainties for our people.

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There is neither an all-round social security system nor a social safety net for most Africans. Funding for this could only be secured through massive industrialisation.

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Core dictum for

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Africa industrialisation

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Our economic, political, military, social and cultural advancement must be designed and informed by our African heritage and the need of social certainties for virtually all Africans.

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The current strategy in the world is creating pyramidal society where to survive at all, you must be prepared to do whatever.

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The current globalising architecture that made bankers and capitalists richer than the rest of us is not the way we should continue.

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Africa suffered the most, but because we are used to poverty, our groans are not heard. We all grew from a communal background where everybody was her/his brother’s keeper.

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The colonisation, exploitation, and despoliation of Africa derailed our humane advancement as a people in all spheres of life.

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Africa needs a completely domesticated policy and measures to improve her living standards. We must own our developmental programmes and execute them.

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Africa must deploy participatory and supportive relationships in all its activities with the assured mechanisms that all Africans living and dead will be impacted positively as we all march along the road to achieve the stated mission of industrialising Africa in the 21st century.

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This process must not be through imposition of ideas and processes developed in different socio-political and economic milieu on Africa.

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Potential for

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industrialisation

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Africa has about 16 percent of the world’s population with 22 percent of the planet’s dry land (with sunshine for solar energy); the longest river in the world (6 670km); the warmest climatic conditions; 13,5 percent of the world’s trade in ore and minerals; significant percentage of agricultural crops; and 10 percent of oil and natural gas reserves.

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Fisheries potentials are unlimited for the continent. The hydro–electricity potential is very huge.

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Base metals are available in huge quantities. Tourism potential is vast. The African human resources are sufficient for the industrialisation of Africa.

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Virtually all construction work that is being done in Africa today is physically carried out by Africans.

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The point to note is that Africa should not be a beggar continent. As of now the industrialised world cannot do without African resources and markets.

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What is industrialisation?

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To industrialise (Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 2006) is a verb.

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It is to develop industries in an area on a wide scale.

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The Oxford Dictionary of Economics by John Black (2002), says industrialisation is a process of moving resources into the industrial sector.

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Industrialism is explained as a social or economic system in which manufacturing industries are prevalent.

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I define industrialisation of Africa as a process for the movement of African resources to develop industries across Africa on a massive and integrated, manner to support all Africans and prop-up African dignity.

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In Africa, there exist some industrialising concerns.

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Significantly, they are extensions of the Western industrial establishments. These oases of industrial activities are not bringing the benefits of industrialisation to all Africans in good and fair measure.

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There is no synergy between the various industrial concerns in Africa in a programmatic manner to serve the collective interests of Africans.

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Industrialisation in Europe

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It should be recalled that Europe witnessed significant developments between the 14th and 20th centuries.

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There were wars amongst European nations. Very significant “expeditions” took place.

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So-called civilising missionaries supposedly came to spread religion. However, the evidence now is that was the commencement of the destruction of Africa’s development.

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Europe faced problems of unemployment; social insecurity; famine; and health (bubonic plagues, pneumonia; etc).

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The British monarch was beheaded. There was an agrarian revolution. This was the era of “enlightenment” and the existing orders then were subjected to questioning.

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The French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille took place. The dogma of “freedom, liberty, and egalitarianism” became the canvass on which society should be ordered.

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Western European governments had no option but to see to how to meet the needs of their people and improve the quality of their lives.

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They had to mass produce. The industrialisation of Europe was successful.

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Though, as we alluded to above, it was to a very large extent a consequence of our cheap and forced labour, stolen raw materials, unfair trading, education and innovative technological applications as well as the will to survive and dominate the harsh cold climatic conditions of Europe.

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Africa cannot rob any continent of human and material resources, but we do have education. The technological know-how and innovation could be obtained at reasonable cost.

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All that warranted Europe to embark on industrialisation exists in Africa. Indeed if the correct strategy and management systems are applied, Africa would be an industrialised continent by the year 2020 whatever the opposition we may face from the other continents. We only need to be focused. Adopt the correct strategies. Above all, we must bond ourselves together as one with shared vision.

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Why the emphasis?

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Virtually every product of industrialisation that is now used to improve the quality of life — such as household goods, office appliances and machinery, motor vehicles, airplanes, railway engines and wagons, computers; ICTs – are imported from outside Africa.

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In some cases, some of these products are assembled in Africa. In some African countries, some ridiculous items like toothpicks, combs, pins, fruit juice and foods, drinking water, and furniture are still being imported.

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The summary of the above is that the fortunes of African economies are tied to the vagaries of the developments in the other economies in the world.

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The recent development in the immoral activities in Britain and USA — sub-prime lending rate for mortgages that led to the meltdown of the world financial system – is a very good example.

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That we are providing jobs for other continents by persistently buying their products is very clear.

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Implications of failure

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Africa is not producing what she is consuming.

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We produce what we do not consume. Until we produce mostly what we are consuming, we shall continue to be dependent on other continents.

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Also, unless we are producing (industrialising), the percentage of our participation in the world trade shall continue to be abysmally low (currently about two percent).

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This will continue to adversely affect:

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(a) Purchasing power of our currencies which is the value placed on our productivity;

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(b) Pricing of our valued raw materials by other continents at very cheap prices dictated by them;

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(c) The quantum of African raw materials needed for Africa’s industrialisation that are inelastic, particularly those that are not agro-based;

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(d) Availability of jobs that would have been created for Africans if the products were produced in Africa;

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(e) Creation of millions of unemployed young and old people in Africa;

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(f) Political, social, economic, and security problems in Africa;

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(g) Stability in Africa;

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(h) Respect for Africa; and

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(i) Treatment of Africans with dignity.

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A new strategy for Africa’s industrialisation

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From the discussion above and based on a very careful study of the economic geography of Africa, one would easily be aware that:

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(a) The raw materials being used to produce the products being imported to Africa are obtainable in Africa;

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(b) The technologies required are also in the reach of Africans;

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(c) The conditions precedent for the European industrialisation are now prevalent in Africa (high level of unemployment, poor quality of feeding, diseases, high level of social awareness and consequential need for government to perform and meet the living needs of their citizens);

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(d) The under performance of various African development blueprints (Lagos Plan of Action, Abuja Treaty of 1991 and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development), development strategies approved by our leaders with the consent of extra-Africa powers who have turned round to frustrate the actualisation of their laudable objectives;

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(e) The level of socio-economic inequalities between Africans

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and the rest of the world as well as amongst Africans; and

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(f) The increasing dimension of the socio-economic and political convulsion that Africa may face if there is no remarkable paradigm shift towards meeting the social certainties of Africans as well as the requirements for improving their standard of living.

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The above dictates that Africa has no choice but to embark on integrated and focused massive industrialisation.

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That this must involve the use of new strategy has been canvassed above. The study of various literature on industrialisation highlights many strategies to achieve industrialisation. Some argued that import substitution would lead to industrialisation.

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Another school of thought claims that export-focused industrial activities are better to industrialise and develop an economy and meet the needs of the people.

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The Labour Intensive Economic Strategy has been promoted, especially in agrarian societies with huge populations.

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While, it would be presumptuous of me to dismiss the strategies developed by more knowledgeable and trained minds, I have noted these strategies and learnt a great deal from them.

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Chinese experience

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In 1978, when China started her surge towards industrialisation, she deployed all her efforts to meet two needs of the people.

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Beijing resolved to feed and clothe all Chinese.

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The story of China’s rise to become the leading exporting country with trillions in foreign currency reserves, and the second biggest economy in the world, started from these simple, focused and integrated industrialising activities to meet the needs of all Chinese.

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Whatever the tactics the Chinese have adopted, the dignity of the Chinese has been enhanced.

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No one can talk down to China now. China has respect amongst the comity of nations.

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The lesson from the Chinese is that all economic activities must have meaning for the peoples at the centre.

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It is only logical, that I should call for taxonomy of African needs by the year 2020.

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This will translate to what we want every African to have, afford and enjoy by 2020.

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What status do we want Africans to have comparatively to other world citizens?

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In practical terms now, how do we ensure that all Africans have all the basic needs; water, shelter, food, clothes; health; jobs; communication, electricity, security etc?

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The taxonomy will lead to the identification of what must be produced by Africans to meet the needs of Africans.

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Once the list is done, efforts should be deployed to how we produce them.

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As an example, I looked at producing means of moving goods, services and human beings from point A to B.

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We do not have an African vehicle.

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We should decide to have an African vehicle. If the engine has to be in the middle or back or wherever, there is need to have a patented African vehicle.

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All materials used in producing vehicles are available in Africa. If we do not have all the technology, we must do the needful to get it.

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We must act desperately.

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Between the 54 governments in Africa, a market of over 80 million vehicles could be created annually over a period of 10 years.

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In a study I came across in 1997, there were about 1 300 parts in a vehicle.

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The parts may have increased now given the technological advances. There are many universities in Africa where engineering is being studied.

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Certainly they should be tasked – and in liaison with African governments and entrepreneurs – to produce prototypes of each of the parts for an African vehicle. The mould for the parts would then be produced and the parts mass produced in various countries.

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Thereafter, about five assembly plants may be set up, based on the economics and political decisions of the Africa Heads of State.

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The industrialisation spin-off from the various industries that could come up as a result of producing an African vehicle in African countries would have tremendous salutary effects on job-creation for Africans and, indeed, other industrial activities.

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The leather industries will be promoted and consequently, all other industries that depend on usage of leather.

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In this regard, the animal husbandry industry, rubber, petrochemical glass, etc would have positive benefits.

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As a result of the economies of scale, and because the industries would be targeting 900 million Africans, the final cost of production would be cheap and, therefore, Africans’ purchasing power would be more efficient.

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Feeding Africa

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Feeding Africans should be a problem that our integrated, focused and massive industrialisation should address as matter urgency.

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We should stop taking food aid in Africa. It is an insult.

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If China with less than one million square km of arable land can feed 1.3 billion people, Africa should come up with a strategy to feed a population that will be below 1.3 billion by 2020.

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From latitude 23 North down to the coast of South Africa, we have over five million square km of land that can serve productive agrarian activities.

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The plains of Sudan could supply all the rice. Kenya could supply all the tea. Cote d’Ivoire could supply coffee and cocoa.

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Nigeria, Angola, the DRC and Uganda could supply cocoa, cassava, bananas, plantain, and yam.

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Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi could supply maize, millet etc.

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South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Niger could supply cattle, sheep, and goats.

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Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, and the Central Africa Republic could supply timber. Citrus fruits, dates, olives, sugarcane, and dairy products could be produced by Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco.

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Industries should be established in an integrated manner to ensure that all these products are processed to meet Africa’s needs and those of the rest of the world. If Africa could focus, in the main, these two industries (food and transport) as well as production of electronics including computers, I can assure that by the year 2020 Africa will be industrialised.

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Development of infrastructure

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The above strategy would call for immediate focus on the construction of energy, transportation and communication infrastructure. All the hydro-electricity potential should be harnessed and necessary funding secured.

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There is need for rail and road links from North to South and East to West Africa.

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The civil works for these linkages should have gas pipelines and water ways where possible. We need to implement the Yamoussoukro Agreement on an open sky for Africa.

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Above all else, we need an educational development strategy in Africa that would commit 50 percent of the annual budgets of every African country to be devoted to education.

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Thereby African budgets would stay more in the economy of Africa and enhance the purchasing power of Africans.

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In the process, a large volume of the African foreign exchange that is supporting other countries will remain in Africa and which can be ploughed towards industrial activities.

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High wages would be promoted because quality teachers would remain in Africa and the quality of African education would also improve because quality teachers will stay in the industry once appropriate salaries are paid.

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Tourism should be enhanced as part of the educational programme and all African countries deliberately cause funds to be made available for leave of their workers.

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Leave must be spent in African countries.

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In the process, African tourism will increase and this will foster development of African countries and their tourism industries.

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It would also promote integration of Africa as well as businesses and industrial activities being jointly owned by Africans.

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African industrialisation should be knowledge-based so that all African factors of production can be efficiently and effectively synergised to produce productive products so that African economies can meet the living and flourishing needs of Africa in a sustainable manner.

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Africa will be less dependent on productive activities of other continent.

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By 2020, Africa’s population could be about 1.3 billion. If we now decide to encourage all Africans to drink tea; take plantain or products from plantain and banana; eat fish or beef/lamb/ with greens; drink milk etc, millions of the unemployed Africans will be employed and countries producing these products will have ready markets for their products.

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There is nothing that nature (God) has endowed us with that is not intended for our survival and prosperity and happiness, we only need to apply our intellects to put them into positive use.

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Funding

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Funding of assembly plants for vehicles; industries for vehicle parts; agro-allied industries; agricultural produce; educational institutions; and production of electronics and computers could be done by Africans without recourse to external borrowing or financing from overseas.

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The sources of funding could be:-

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(a) Pension funds of all African public and private workers;

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(b) Part of the budget for education that could be devoted to research and development;

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(c) Improved salaries that would ensure that every African worker would have sufficient savings after meeting basic needs;

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(d) Financial impetus for investment in capital market;

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(e) Taxes, royalties, customs and excise duties;

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(f) Collateralisation of African mineral resources as a support for the creation of an African Currency. The Yen, Chinese RMB, US dollar and euro should form the basket of currencies against which the value of African currency could be determined.

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All public expenditure in Africa would be calculated in this African currency. All payments for any export outside will be paid for in African currency.

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Happily, there is in the offing an African Central Bank and the consequential monetary authorities will be established; and

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(g) Development of an African Industrialisation Stock to be floated on a Centralised African Stock Exchange (Case).

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I should seek your understanding to highlight for urgent attention the following:

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a. Establishment of five African industrial development universities;

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b. Establishment of African research centres;

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c. Establishment of African management centres;

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d. Establishment of African training centres;

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e. Development of disciplined technicians to man processing industries (petrochemical, refineries, pharmaceutical, assembly plants, rolling mills);

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f. Pathological analysis of the critical products that will catapult Africa to industrialisation;

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g. Agreement that no African shall be unemployed by the 2020;

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h. Synergy of educational materials and curriculum to meet the living (industrialisation) needs of Africa by 2020, especially in the physical sciences, mathematics, IT and strategic management;

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i. Patenting of African motifs, cultural artifacts mementoes monuments, landscapes, fauna (including the usage of their images);

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j. Establishment of an overarching African Union department responsible to the AU Summit for implementation of the African Industrialisation Strategy that this body may wish to recommend;

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k. Establishment of Ministry of Industrialisation in all African countries;

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l. Implementation of Open Air for Africa Airlines;

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m. Africa must devise mechanism to trade with itself;

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n. Continental standard organisation to monitor the quality of goods and services should be established;

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o. Africa must have a political/economic summit to ensure it has a fair share of world trade, not less than 10 percent;

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p. Africa must review the hands off economic/business activities by governments;

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q. There must be good governance and the cost of administering our political management must be drastically reduced;

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r. Expatriate quotas must be reduced to critical areas – Africa can supply experts;

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s. Establishment of the African Currency with all the structures to back it up;

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t. Establish mechanism for fair engagement between Africa and the rest of the world;

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u. The AU Summit should demand for a performance appraisal of each industrial concern to achieve effective and efficient realisation of the industrialisation strategy.