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Aid remains a major problem to the growth and development of the Central African region, By Chofor Che


The Sub Saharan African region (the region) is the largest recipient of aid. Most of this aid goes to states in the Central African region (the sub region) such as Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Despite its position as the greatest recipient of aid, states in the Central African region especially, remain the poorest in the world. The vast resources embedded in the region and in the sub region specifically renders this fact paradoxical. What is really the cause of this very disturbing melee?

The African Economic Outlook opines that the average economic growth rate in the region, rather than picking up, has in fact decelerated from 6.1 percent in 2005 to a projected average of 4.8 percent in 2014. These figures are indeed disturbing as they remain far off the 7 percent growth rate target deemed important for the region and the sub region in particular to meet the targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015.

In an attempt to redress the quagmire of underdevelopment, the region has been the centre of attention for large scale initiatives to redress its economic stagnation via aid increases. The sub region most especially has been part of this drive. Past international endeavors dedicated to poverty alleviation in the region such as the United Nations (UN) $25 billion Special initiative for Africa have not delivered to poverty alleviation in the region. Franklin Cudjoe of IMANI Ghana, Maud Martei and Pilar Rukavina in the 2014 second edition of a publication by Africanliberty.org, sponsored by the US based Atlas Economic Foundation opine that, rather than stimulating development , increased aid has gone hand in hand with increased dependency. According to these authors and other authors like Ayodele T, Noluyshungu T.A and Sunwabe C.K, more than $500 billion in foreign aid was pumped into Africa, with little to show for it. Indeed adversarial trends have been noticed as renewed aid influxes did not correlate with an improvement of economic performance as Gross Domestic Capital (GDP) actually fell. According to 2014 poverty data furnished by the World Bank Group in 1975 there were 140 million Africans living in poverty compared to 204.9 million in 1981, 360 million in 2000 and 413.7 million in 2010.

The evidence furnished in the above paragraphs show that rather than enhancing the region’s position, aid is serving to maintain the status quo by supporting corruption and policy mismanagement. As propounded by Boone P in a 1995 article entitled ‘Politics and the Effectiveness of Foreign Aid’, “aid does not significantly increase investment and growth, nor benefit the poor as measured by improvements in human development indicators, but it does increase the size of government.” This is observable amongst some of the poorest states in the region especially in the Central African sub region. States in the Central African region are all characterized by centralized regimes upheld by corruption and humongous influxes of aid.

The Global Financial Integrity, a Washington D.C. based non-profit organization that traces illicit money estimates that $1 trillion gets stolen from developing states especially in Africa in a typical year. Contrasted against the approximate $134 million that developing states receive, it suggests that foreign aid may simply be a drop in the ocean of a well-oiled corruption industry. In a study conducted in Chad in 2004, it was discovered that of a total sum of money released by the Ministry of Finance destined for rural health clinics, less than $1 of it actually reached the clinics. This is evidence that aid is not reaching its intended benefactors.

Blame for the continued embezzlement of aid money cannot be attributed to African leaders alone. There is clear awareness on the part of donors that such practices are occurring, signaling a disturbing tolerance for their continuation. Patricia Adams of Probe International has asserted that the World Bank was privy to the knowledge that, up to 30 percent of their loans was embezzled by corrupt officials. Despite the World Bank’s firm adoption of a zero –tolerance, good governance stance, corruption remains chronic throughout its projects due to inadequate supervisory procedures.

It is thus time to resist calls for pouring even larger sums of aid into countries in the region and in the Central African Sub region. Foreign aid has not proved to be the solution so far and will continue to elude Africans in particular as the solution to eradicating poverty. What is really needed in Africa is an enabling environment for free market institutions. A good starting point may be to inject the ideas of free markets in African Constitutions which so far have remained devoid of promoting free markets. Such a move must be thus followed by a reform of institutions like the judiciaries and taxation systems which would allow ordinary Africans especially those in the Central African region to take ownership over their own developmental process, thereby reducing the need for foreign financial assistance.

This article is originally written in French and published at LibreAfrique.org. as ‘L’aide : obstacle à la croissance et au développement de l’Afrique centrale’ http://libreafrique.org/ChoforChe-aide-100914 on the 10 September 2014.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Africa Development

 

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Vocational And Technical Skills In The Informal And Rural Sector In Africa – Chofor Che , posted at Africanliberty.org on 18 Feb 2014


The mismatch of skills in the informal and rural sector to the needs of the labour market in Africa has been identified as one of the reasons for serious youth unemployment and the continent’s underdevelopment. According to an African Economic Outlook (AEO) study, the most difficult areas for recruiters to have employees are those areas which demand technical qualifications, such as the oil and gas sector, the mining sector, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the manufacturing industry, the agri-business sector and the logistics sector. Most of Africa’s tertiary educational establishments focus on public sector employment rather than on the private sector labour demands. How can the continent overturn this impediment especially as there is much talk of Africa’s renaissance?

Graduates in the fields on humanities and social sciences find it difficult to get employed than those who specialize in the information technology, agriculture and the engineering fields. A 2013 Mo Ibrahim study shows that the social sciences and the humanities have higher enrolment rates and graduates. Those in the engineering, manufacturing, construction and agricultural sectors tail the list in terms of higher educational enrolment and graduation. Just 2 per cent of youth in Africa are studying agriculture and the continent is in dire need of specialists in these fields to move the continent forward especially as agriculture contributes on average 25 per cent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Sub Saharan Africa has the lowest share of engineering graduates in the world. Natural resource sectors such as the mining, oil and gas industries employ less than 1 per cent of Africa’s workforce. Despite these disturbing statistics the continent suffers from serious brain drain because employment conditions in these sectors remain vulnerable.

An African Development Bank (ADB) study purports that in Sub Saharan Africa; non wage employment represents more than 80 per cent of total employment for women and more than 60 per cent for men. 9 to 10 rural and urban workers have informal jobs in Africa most of whom are women and youth. The largest employees in Africa are the retail, agriculture and hospitality industries which remain insecure. Almost 90 per cent of jobs furnished by the agricultural sector for instance are vulnerable.

There is therefore a need for joint efforts to make technical and vocational skills more appealing to African youth and women. African states in collaboration with universities and think tanks need to encourage enrolment especially at the university level for specializations like the engineering, manufacturing, construction, natural resource and agriculture sectors. Central governments in collaboration with regional and local governments need to make jobs for instance in the agricultural sector more secured. If these jobs continue to be vulnerable, African youth and women will not be interested in enrolling in areas like agriculture thus a lacuna in the private sector labour demands. As existing public and private employment capacity is too small, investing in the informal and rural sector can be seen as an opportunity if the challenges of wages and productivity alongside education and training are overcome as well. It is thus time for African states to rethink matching of skills in the informal and rural sector to meet the needs of the labour market in Africa.

– See more at: http://www.africanliberty.org/content/vocational-and-technical-skills-informal-and-rural-sector-africa-chofor-che#sthash.0mCUZZbA.dpuf

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2014 in Africa Development, Local government

 

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