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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More