BY EMMA UJAH, Abuja Bureau Chief
The solution to poverty in Africa is for Africans to invest their money at home rather than take the continent’s wealth away to others parts of the world, the President of the Dangote Group, Alh. Aliko Dangaote, has proffered. He spoke, in Abuja, yesterday, as a panelists on “More Inclusive Growth and Creating Jobs” at the on-going World Economic Forum Africa, WEFA.
According to Africa’s richest man, the problem of poverty and lack of development on the continent had a lot to do with activities of Africans who deny the continent of its resources by taking them to other parts of the globe.
His words, “the challenge is that some Africans, rather than keeping their money in Africa take such money away to other parts of the world. Many are not investing our money in Africa. When such money is taken out Africa loses”. Alh. Dangote who said he would invest $16 billion on the continent in the next four years, emphasized that massive investment in Africa should be the pre-occupation of both state and non-state actors in Africa.
He explained that there was no alternative to industralisation of the continent, as according to him, “when you import goods, you import poverty and you export jobs to other parts of the globe where such goods are produced”. The next phase of investments by his group, the billionaire said, would be in the critical real sectors such as agriculture, petrochemicals and fertilizers to boost areas that could directly create jobs.
He believed that the provision of jobs to Nigeria’s teaming population was the only effective way to check the twin problems of poverty and terrorism in Nigeria and other parts of the African continenet.
“The only way to solve the problem of Boko Haram is to create jobs” the business mogul said, adding that he had acquired over 200 hectares in Niger and Edo states for the cultivation of rice and sugar with the intention of creating massive employment opportunities for the nation’s youth population. He also stressed the need for increased intra-African trade which he put at a current level of a mere $ 100 per annum of 15 per cent of its trade volume, which compares dismally with the Asian record of about 40 per cent and Europe’s 5o per cent.
Also speaking the Executive Director, Oxfam International, Ms. Winifred Byanyima lamented that the poverty rate on the continent has been exacerbated by massive looting of Africa’s resources and skewed policy measures which make tax evasion easy for companies operation on the continent. Quoting a report of the African Development Bank, AfDB, she disclosed that $63 billion was being taken out of Africa, annually in illicit funds and that a whopping $1.4 trillion had been stolen from Africa in the last 30 years.
She warned against the growing inequality in many African countries and pointed out that it was dangerous to record impressive macro-economic growth without such growth impacting positively on the people. Her words, “60 per cent of Africa is still live below the poverty line.
Although many African countries are posting impressive growth rates, millions have been left behind. Most people are not impacted on by the growth because the growth is coming from minerals and other resources. Only few conglomerates are involved in these activities and they just take the resources straight from the ground, take it out and earn revenue without the people being part of it.