BY BEN AGANDE
Abuja—President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, challenged African leaders to give priority to the promotion of inclusive economic growth on the continent to avoid problems associated with poverty and financial equality.
He made the call in Davos, Switzerland where he is attending the World Economic Forum. He was received on arrival by the founder of the World Economic Forum, Dr. Klaus Schwab. He said his administration was already doing a lot to enhance inclusive growth in Nigeria through policies and programmes that focus on wealth creation rather than poverty alleviation.
Jonathan said: “Economic inclusion is very important and we are already taking necessary steps to improve financial inclusion in our country. Transforming our agricultural sector is one way in which we are doing so.
“We are doing all that we can to transform agriculture in Nigeria into a much more productive and job creating sector. We are also working to create more inclusive wealth through better education, skills acquisition programmes and policies that encourage the addition of value to our primary products before exportation.”
He added that with Africa’s population projected to exceed two billion persons by the year 2050, wealth and job creation must remain at the top of the continent’s developmental agenda.
Presidents Jonathan, John Mahama of Ghana and Alhaji Aliko Dangote among other participants in the debate agreed that the objective of achieving more inclusive economic growth would be better served if African leaders took more positive action towards boosting intra-African trade, saying that the current situation in which only 11 percent of Africa’s total trade took place on the continent was unacceptable.
Jonathan said that African leaders must do everything possible to remove impediments to trade in the continent, including inadequate air and ground transportation links among them.
The president spoke further: “Security and political stability are key to development. Investors will not come to any country that is insecure or politically unstable. Happily, many African countries now enjoy political stability. It is a major reason for the positive economic growth rates which we are now witnessing on the continent and we must continue to do our best to maintain and expand the frontiers of political stability on our continent.”
In his own contribution, President and Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote decried the negative perception of socio-political situation in Africa, saying it was responsible for the low level of inflow of investment into the continent.
Speaking on “Africa’s Next Billion,” he stated that the wrong perception of the security and political situation in Africa had made investors especially from the West lost sight of the potentials in the continent.
According to him, the African countries have also done little or nothing to remedy the ugly situation, even as the situation was not as bad as being painted.
Dangote added that “For instance foreign investors wait for election to be concluded, after then, they try to check the stability of government of the day for at least two years but then, it is more difficult to take any decision because the tenure of the government is coming to end and by so doing, foreign investors are scared of incoming or incumbent and the cycle keeps going on. But then I don’t think there is anything to be afraid of because no government is against business, every government is pro-business.”