Speaking at the 7th anniversary lecture, investiture into the Realnews hall of fame & the unveiling of the book: Pathways to political & economic development of Africa, in Lagos.
Former president of Ghana, John Mahama while addressing issues on the theme “Beyond Politics: An Economic Narrative for West Africa” said that Africa with its urbanizing population must look more to developing its service and digital economies faster.
Mr Mahama who explained that great potential for growth also exists in tourism, the creative industry, ICT, and financial services said Ghana, Nigeria and other African countries have overtaken agriculture as the largest and fastest growing sector of the economy.
The former Ghanaian president stated that African countries must create the right environment for these to grow through tax incentives, reduced regulation and red tape.
According to him: “We must change our model of being producers of raw commodities.
“Africa’s gold must reach the rest of the world as valuable jewelry, her oil must arrive as petroleum products, her timber as furniture, her cocoa as chocolates, bauxite as aluminum and copper as semi-conductor parts.
“Value addition and processing will provide more wealth for African economies and millions of jobs for our young people.
“To achieve this, Africa must invest in making power more available for domestic, industrial and agricultural use.
“While Africa cannot follow the model of the past industrial revolutions that have polluted and threaten the very existence of our planet, cleaner forms of energy, including gas-fired thermal, hydro, solar and wind energy are areas we must aggressively invest in.
“Nigeria must as a priority aggressively pursue a gas-to-power policy and stop the flaring of almost 300 billion standard cubic feet of gas per annum representing a loss of almost $700 million a year.
“Africa must support the Inga dam and other potential hydro power projects, which could bring about an additional 40,000 MW of power to South, East, West and Central African economies.
Investment in social and economic infrastructure is imperative,” he added.
Mr Mahama posited that there must be big push, especially in the transport sector, Road, rail, maritime, aviation in order to ensure efficient movement of passengers and goods both within and between our countries to further enhance trade and services across the West African sub-region.
“African countries reports say stands at about 11%. Comparable statistics with other regions are:- the Americas at 47%, Asia 61%, Europe 67% and Oceania 7%. Intra African trade will staunch the current outflows that leave the continent yearly and result in a recirculation of wealth within the continent,” he said.
He condemned the attacks and expulsion of foreigners from South Africa as, indeed, most unfortunate considering her history in the struggle against apartheid and the lynching of fellow Africans as a result of the recent waves of xenophobia in that country.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, former Nigeria’s minister of finance, Dr Mansur Muhtar while speaking on
“The End of Oil:Wither the Nigeria Economy “said Nigeria was a big player in the international oil market, the first in Africa and twelfth in the World as well as second crude reserve In Africa and natural gas liquefied in the Continent.
Dr Muhtar who is the Vice President, Islamic Development Bank attributed poverty as challenges facing economic growth as he expressed worries over the declined in the production of oil which could no longer sustain or add to the country’s Gross Domestic product, GDP.
He called on government to secure more efficient and effective sustainable growth as well as tap on the natural resources via geographic location to achieve economic diversification.
The former minister identified improvement of service delivery, policy formulation, financial regulation, rebuilding and expanding physical infrastructure and overhaul of educational system as well as growing agriculture would put Nigeria in the right direction.
He said creation of industries would also play a pivotal role in boosting, enhancing and strengthening economic growth as primacy of leadership is also key to achieving economic development.
In her welcome address, Ms Maureen Chigbo, Publisher of Realnews Online Magazine, said the online medium had kept faith with its Vision and Mission statements in the past seven years.