Hafsat Abiola is one the ardent champions of democracy and human rights in Africa. Her father is Moshood Abiola, the first democratically elected president in Nigeria (1993). Following the result he was put in jail and her mother took up the task to advocate on his behalf to release him. Shortly after, she was gunned down.
In this episode, Hafsat candidly discusses the challenges Africa faces to effectively start on the path to economic prosperity, from women economic inclusion to foreign interference.
Ever since the 14 years to the 2014 commodity crash, Africa’s impressive average economic growth of around 5% saw economists toasting to the continent’s development potential. Buoyed by high commodity prices, the rise of a middle class and marginal exposure to global financial markets, African economies were for the most part undisturbed by the 2008 global financial crisis.
However, the commodity crash brought the cycle to a halt. Between February 2015 June 2014, global commodity prices fell 38% reaching their lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis and — by at least one measure — to the lowest this century. Ever since, Africans were left looking for a new dynamic to turn the continent abundant potential into growth.
The Women Factor in Africa’s Growth
”We have to look for a way for women to be making the progression from micro through small through macro-level enterprises. Why not?!Hafsat Abiola
Pushing for getting women into local and state governments is key to an effective promotion of women economic inclusion. It is the solution to be aware of society’s needs and make sure that the public sector accounts for those needs.
A second step is to move out women from micro-level to small scale businesses hiring from 4 to 20 people. Hafsat has been advocating for this dreamy idea and has an actual plan for it. She believes the dream can come true by organizing companies led by women in clusters to provide big companies supply chains with what local economy can produce for them. The growth of big companies would eventually be the catalyst for clusters’ growth. The power of this idea is in guaranteeing markets for women entrepreneurs.
A third lever is training these women to meet big companies standards.
The global commodity prices crash showed that resources are more of a curse than a blessing. They reduce the incentive for elites to invest in workers, and increase the incentive to topple the government and seize control of mineral revenues.
Now that the need for economy diversification is clear, mapping the need of the population is a first step to start thinking of what African nations can produce.
The Manufacturing Shift
Multinational companies building factories in low-cost countries, that’s how China got started on its road to riches, and it’s the best bet for Africa too. Hafsat Abiola calls for direct action to transfer know-how and protect nascent promising industries until their maturity.
How to move Africa’s opportunities onto a pathway of growth?
What do you think of the challenges and solutions mentioned in this interview ? Do see other points we did not address? Share your experience, I would love to read your thoughts about moving Africa’s abundant opportunities onto a pathway of growth and economic development in the comments section.