News / Africa

Boosting Africa’s Standard of Living Through Regional Investments

Boosting Africa’s Standard of Living Through Regional Investments
Boosting Africa’s Standard of Living Through Regional Investments

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

A new report recommending ways to boost Africa’s standard of living was released Tuesday at the Fourth U.N. Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, Turkey.

“Integrated regional investments could lead to an accumulated 10 percent increase in the continent’s standard of living between 2012 and 2020,” said report from the U.N. Development Program (UNDP).

Infrastructure deficit

UNDP Administrator Helen Clarke was in Istanbul for the release of Regional Integration and Human Development: a Pathway to Africa.

“This report says that it would be good for Least Developed Countries [LCDs] and for Africa generally if there were greater regional integration. Now to make that hum, you need more trans-border infrastructure investment for a start. One of the things that really holds back trade within Africa is the lack of good logistics. Roads aren’t always in good repair, if existent. And rail is very underdeveloped in many countries,” said Clark.

She described the problems as an “infrastructure deficit,” which includes not only transport, but also clean water, power and communications.

Finding the money

Half of Africa’s population, nearly 500 million, lives in 33 LDCs and shares less than one quarter of Africa’s gross domestic product, according to UNDP. So where would investment money come from?

“In many cases there’ll be a big role for the multi-lateral development banks,” Clark said, “but I think there’ll also be private-public partnerships, which enable countries to speed up the development of their infrastructure. There’ll also be a role which some of the major emerging countries are playing in South-South cooperation. And I think there’s a lot of awareness of the role China is now playing in infrastructure projects. So I think there’ll be a wide range of ways to do this.”

Pro-poor policies

The UNDP report said if integrated regional investments are to succeed, they must be “coupled with pro-poor policy.”

“The objective would be to see human development as an outcome of regional integration, not just a byproduct, but something you actively plan for. For that to be the case, you have to be planning around the education and skills you’re going to need to drive greater regional economic integration. It also means a healthy population because unhealthy populations aren’t able to give economic growth much momentum,” she said.

The report also recommended basic social protection.

“When you go to integration, there will be some winners and there will be some losers unless you mitigate. So you need to build that into the design of regional integration, as well,” said Clark.

Where there’s a will

According to the report, “The achievement of greater integration can only become reality if supported by strong political will and committed leadership in African countries.”

Clarke said, “I think increasingly we will see that leadership and will because African countries are aware of what very successful models of regional integration have achieved, for example, in Southeast Asia. I think that Africa knows it has a lot more potential to trade between itself but that’s it’s held back for a variety of reasons, not [the] least these major infrastructural ones.”

She said she sees that commitment within the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“I guess the objective is to see Least Developed Countries move out of that category and along the development trajectory,” she said.

Turkey, current chair of the LDCs conference, is compiling a list of countries it believes can do that over the next 10 years.

“There are many which could graduate,” said Clark, “There are others currently, like Afghanistan, held back by very, very considerable conflicts. But so often in the conflict-ridden countries we see very, very great resources, as well. So peace and stability have a big part to play in lifting countries out of the development stagnation, if you like, that a number are in.”

She added that investment in smallholder agriculture also plays a crucial role in economic growth. The sector has received more attention following the start of the crisis over soaring food prices and supply shortages several years ago.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs