By Monsur Olowoopejo
lagos—Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, yesterday, said the African economy had potential to overtake Europe and Asian economies but would require self determination and inspiration from its citizens, even as he warned that the price of crude oil might crash below $20 per barrel.
The governor, while addressing business executives at a session organized by Mail and Guardian Africa held in Lekki, said the economies were developed by their citizens and not foreigners, saying “Africa must also take a cue from them.”
Fashola who spoke on the theme, ‘How African cities will be the biggest drivers of the rising Africa story,’ lamented that the economy of Africa was not progressing as it should have been based on the potentials embodied in the continent.
According to him, “Our current situation may well be a humble beginning but if Africa really wishes to rise, we must ask ourselves what we have contributed to the growth that is taking place in our continent. How many cell phones, vehicles, household materials were made in African factories? What percentage of the African workforce is employed at the management level on many of the Africa infrastructural projects going on in Angola, Ethopia and others?
We have a test at hand and, we can pass that test if we take concrete and well articulated steps to position ourselves to be very competitive and efficient. And the test is better passed at this moment when we have another scramble for Africa after the first in 1885-when the world came to the continent to get raw materials for their factories. But today, the new scramble is for the African market because the continent now has the needed population.
“As there is another scramble for Africa, all we failed to do at the first must be thoroughly done to avoid a repeat of what occurred 120 years ago, during the first scramble. First, we must invest in education sector because this sector has remained the surest way to develop a nation. Lagos understands this and our approach is to include all players in the public and private sector in order to improve productivity in this key sector.
“Our short term plan is in science and technology, to produce youths who can do things with their hands rather than people who work with their minds. This will reduce unemployment.
‘The second is to embrace ICT. Even though we cannot lay claim to the major contribution to the development of the internet age, we stand able and must be willing to use ICT to bridge the huge gap of development between this continent and others. While the third is to reduce poverty; the impact of poverty stands in the way of Africa’s development and part of the effort to reduce poverty by the state government is to provide the required infrastructure,” he added.