President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday urged African governments to accord the greater priority to promotion of inclusive economic growth on the continent through wealth creation as a measure to tackling poverty and financial inequality.
The President said that with Africa’s population projected to exceed two billion people by the year 2050, wealth creation and job creation must remain at the top of the continent’s developmental agenda.
In a televised interactive session of the Africa Business forum held on the sideline, at the World Economic Forum taking in place in Davos, Switzerland monitored in Abuja on Wednesday, President Jonathan said his administration was already doing a lot to enhance inclusive growth in Nigeria through policies and programmes that focus on wealth creation rather than poverty alleviation.
Asked to rank the current importance of inclusive growth in Africa on a scale of one to ten, President Jonathan and all the other participants in the debate which had “Africa’s Next Billion” as its theme agreed that it deserved a ranking of ten.
“Economic inclusion is very important and we are already taking necessary steps to improve financial inclusion in our country. Transforming our agricultural sector is one way in which we are doing so.
“We are doing all that we can to transform agriculture in Nigeria into a much more productive and job creating sector. We are also working to create more inclusive wealth through better education, skills acquisition programmes and policies that encourage the addition of value to our primary products before exportation,” Jonathan said.
President Jonathan, President John Mahama of Ghana, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and other participants in the debate agreed that the objective of achieving more inclusive economic growth will be better served if African leaders took more positive action towards boosting intra-African trade.
Participants stressed need for increase trade among African nations arguing that the current situation in which only eleven per cent of Africa’s total trade takes place within the continent was unacceptable.
At the session which was organised by the Nigeria government, President Jonathan urged African leaders take steps to remove all impediments to trade within the continent especially in the area of transportation including air and road infrastructure to link African countries pointing out that the Economic Community of West Africans States is making progress in that direction.
Contributing further to the debate which focused on actions and measures that need to be taken by African countries to sustain their currently positive economic growths in the face of changing demographics, President Jonathan said that all stakeholders in the continent must continue to work for greater security and political stability which are prerequisites for sustained socio-economic development.
“Security and political stability are key to development. Investors will not come to any country that is insecure or politically unstable. Happily, many African countries now enjoy political stability. It is a major reason for the positive economic growth rates which we are now witnessing on the continent and we must continue do our best to maintain and expand the frontiers of political stability on our continent,” President Jonathan said.
He also said that while Africa’s private sector must play a greater role in driving economic growth on the continent, governments must remain proactively engaged in evolving and implementing policies that will enable businesses to thrive and create more wealth on the continent.
President Jonathan also said that the World Economic Forum on Africa which will take place in Abuja in May this year would provide a great platform to further exhibit the immense economic potentials of Nigeria and the West African sub-region to the world’s leading investors and companies.