By Sola Adegbesan
Africa, the second-largest continent and home to 1 billion people has long captured the imagination of the world. Today, different thinkers, political and business leaders are preoccupied with a single question – how to help Africa’s economy grow so it can trade with the world on better terms?
The answer is simple: Africa needs to craft its own solutions to solve its problems. It starts with the promotion of a mindset of self-reliance. There’s no better way of expressing that self-sufficiency than creating innovative financing solutions to fund projects that could lead to sustainable economic growth in all the continent’s 54 African countries. However, these funding solutions need to consider the specific needs of different African countries. If this could be achieved, Africa would prosper and the standard of living on the continent would rise.
The need for alternative funding solutions has never been greater given the uncertain economic prospects the continent faces. While Africa’s prosperity rose dramatically in the past few years due to greater integration into the world economy, this picture has since changed. Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa slowed to 3.6% in 2022, from 4.1% in 2021; and economic activity in the region is projected to further decline to 3.1% in 2023. Africa faces a grain shortage as a result of the Russian-Ukraine conflict. This calamity comes at a time when the continent’s economy was still recovering from the effects of the coronavirus a couple of years ago.
Development finance has its limitations in amounts available, acceptable repayment risk, and in some cases; financing cost vs. project viability. In addition, such finance often comes with strictures on how African nations should run their economies. As such, solutions that are imported rather than developed at home may inadvertently come at a hefty price. This is a legacy of the post-World War II era when extraordinary efforts to provide provisional financial and technical assistance to European countries in the wake of the war’s devastation helped to set them back on the path to national unity. Since then, this approach’s foundations have become the cornerstone of development thought.
But there’s no denying that the traditional development finance model has not worked for Africa over the past six decades. Even though the world economy has grown in the past few decades, most African nations lag economically and grapple with abject poverty. Their commodities are highly susceptible to market fluctuations and natural disasters, and their societies are prone to instability, making it difficult to attract foreign investment. That is why most African nations turn to development aid to survive, which is not a viable model to achieve sustainable economic development. Since 1990, African countries have received over $1.3 trillion in development assistance; however, the continent’s financial, societal, and political fabric remains fragile.
In fairness, Africa is hard at work pursuing Agenda 2063, a development blueprint and master plan for transforming the continent into the global powerhouse of the future. But the chances of this plan to succeed could be enhanced if Africa stops importing solutions from the outside and, instead, develops its own solutions for its own local challenges. This is the best way to positively change the trajectory of its economic development.
In recent years, Africa has proved that it has the capability to champion local solutions. Take the phenomenal success of M-PESA, a mobile-based payment service targeting the unbanked that was launched in Kenya in 2007. The service has been so successful that it has expanded to Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Ghana, Egypt, Afghanistan, and South Africa.
We live on a continent that is well endowed with mineral resources. If these natural resources could be well managed, the sky is the limit for African countries. We are also on a continent with a predominantly youthful population that needs jobs. If this human resource could be harnessed and groomed, Africa would be unstoppable. In fact, if this labour force could be skilled and exported around the world it could lead to greater inflows of Diasporic finance that could boost African economies – human resource is a commodity of the future! A case in point is Ethiopian Airways’ ongoing programme to train aviation personnel who can work anywhere in the world. Underpinning the programme is a realisation that aviation is essential for global business and generates economic growth, creates jobs, and facilitates international trade and tourism.
Standard Bank strongly believes in Africa’s potential and wants to drive its growth forward. Our destiny is tied to our continent. If Africa thrives, we prosper. For this reason, we are committed to playing our part in making sure that Africa grows and delivers on its potential. As a bank, we offer banking and other monetary expertise for free to African governments to use to reform their economies.
To be sure, Africa is a continent, not a country. Each country faces different challenges. We are also keenly aware that we may not always get things right all the time, but we’d rather offer solutions rather than complain and criticise on the side-lines. We are prepared to partner with others who are concerned about the fate of our continent.
In fulfilling our commitments to all our stakeholders, it is important to be in an environment where the economy is growing, where entrepreneurship thrives, and businesses are doing well. An environment where there’s regulation and civil society is stable. When all these factors are in place, the turnover of companies grows and so does the country’s GDP. That means more business for financial institutions. For this reason, Standard Bank is heavily invested in making sure that Africa works.
As a highly respected African bank with an international presence, we use our expertise to guide African governments and institutions to understand the value of the resources they have so that they can use these assets to raise finance at a much cheaper cost. We also help them to invest in the value chain of these resources. The idea is to encourage African governments to use and develop what they have rather than simply borrow.
We also encourage many African countries to create an enabling environment for innovation through changing legislation so that it can reflect new realities. Sticking to the status quo does not foster change.
Hard work is required to turn the idea of African solutions for African problems into reality. It cannot be yet another slogan. Each African country will need to put in the hard work. While cognisant of the injustices of colonialism and the unequal manner in which African economies were incorporated into the world economy after independence, Standard Bank prefers to focus on solutions for the future, on what Africa can achieve if all nations could rally behind the idea of finding our own solutions to financing models.
For Standard Bank, it’s about what we can do in the present moment. Even developed economies that we envy today made economic strides on their own, with little or no outside help. We should do the same. It will require bold thinking. It will also require the triumph of pragmatism over idealism. Back in 1978, Deng Xiaoping, leader of a then-small China, famously said: “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.”. Today, China is the second-largest economy that continually seeks to be self-sufficient in key areas such as technology, finance, food and energy.
Singapore is another economic marvel. In 1965, the country achieved independence with a GDP of $975 million. Its current GDP is close to $400 billion. Even more remarkable is the fact that this growth was accomplished with only three million people. This makes its GDP per capita the second-highest in the world.
Another important aspect of doing things differently is for African countries to work a lot closer to find solutions to common problems. Even Kwame Nkrumah, the founding father of modern Ghana, realised this ideal many decades ago. “It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world,” Nkrumah said.
Indeed, it’s time for Africans to heed this call. We are committed to helping in the search for African solutions to African problems.
- Adegbesan is Head of Sales, Africa Regions, and International, Global Markets | Standard Bank
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent