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Rethinking Africa's Growth Strategy: We cannot just keep talking

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Emmanuel D Tayari

Rethinking Africa's Growth Strategy goes far beyond "talking" it needs planning and implementation. Mr. Li Ruogu, Chairman and President, China EXIM Bank, tried to emphasize this during the 2010 World Economic Forums in Davos, where he contributed to a panel discussion held to discuss the need for new policy approaches to achieve economic growth, poverty reduction and development in Africa.

Naturally, it would be wrong to conclude that African Governments just talk and talk, and do less to improve what they consider essential to their economic growth. But the figures on improvement of infrastructure and other important areas which are vehicles to economic growth, do raise questions on their actions and validate Mr. Li Ruogu's beliefs. The questions that arise, not only validates Mr LI Ruogu's beliefs, but the inability of African leaders to act accordingly. This has led many observers of Africa to reaffirm their beliefs that the continent's economic potential remains unexploited chiefly because of the inability of the African Governments to secure the appropriate social and institutional environment for effective deployment of resources; which, as a result, leaves them talking more than implementing.

I share the beliefs of many African critics because I think it is naive to believe that Africa can have a good playing field. In global business, for example, it is impossible without recognizing the need to create to combine domestic and International forces, and create Africa multinational companies which will compete in the global markets. Our businesses cannot continue being on the defensive side, we need to grow our businesses beyond our continent. Surprising enough, most of the companies which are listed in International Capital Markets which their activities are mainly in Africa, are not African companies; we need to get African companies listed outside our continent. It is time that Africa follows the Capital and stops waiting for the Capital to follow her.

Climate change must also be recognized as being very costly for Africa. Africa is especially vulnerable to Climate Change. One of the fundamental challenges facing Africa, is the need to balance the high demand for energy while reducing emission of greenhouse gases. The frustration of this paradox was expressed by a comment given by a member of the audience from Nigeria during the conference in Davos. He suggested that Africa should ignore Global warming for now and deal with it later. I think we need to tackle this problem now with multiple approaches. As President Kikwete said; we don't need to start with dirty energy first and go green later. African countries should not wait until it is late, as we are always late in acting. This is the time of having a clear investment plan on clean energy and the creation of a set of measures and polices which will be designed to foster development of green energy Industry in Africa.

This year's Davos Conference ended well as far as Tanzania is concerned. I am very happy that the Tanzania government won the bid to organize the World Economic Forum for Africa, in the year 2010. This is a great opportunity for the country as it will stimulate the economy, especially the tourism industry, from the fact that most participants in this event are likely to spend some additional days and nights at the conference venues and in various attractions in the country. Not only that, but it will be a good place to attract investors too.

My advice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International cooperation is that during 2008 we learned our lesson when we organised the Sullivan Summit. During the Sullivan Summit, the registration process was very chaotic; there was no good system to ensure the registration process was conducted smoothly. People had to queue for six hours, in a non-functioning queue, which was very dangerous for their health and safety, and for overall security. I remember that although I was not an official, but I had to take charge of restoring the registration process. I think that should not happen again during the World Economic Forums.

Furthermore, we need to do a good job on matching up investors with Tanzanian companies and their projects, during Sullivan Summit; we failed in this respect, which led to most of our people leaving without any contact of potential business partners. We can take this conference opportunity and organize an extra event out of the official timetable with the purpose of linking our Businesses with other Global business Leaders. Long live Tanzania, Aluta continua.

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The writer is a Tanzanian Young man who has passion for reforms in Tanzania. You can read his columns at Business Times Tanzania every friday
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