Name of writer: UCHE, CHRISTIAN AWOKE- Nigeria
How I will Finance Development and Transformation in Africa as a Leader.
“I am an African, not because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me”. Those were the words of an epic leader, Dr. Kwame Nkurumah, the first prime minister and president of Ghana. Such is the key leadership mentality and spirit that can drive a truly passionate and purposeful leader in drilling into every crevice of rocks to generate golds and diamonds needed for the development and transformation of the African continent. Early in life, my mother painstakingly instilled in me a ‘fact-finding mindset’, adjuring that fault-finders never bring solutions to their nation. She made me see myself as a leader that is carrying the gene of my nation in my DNA. She in that process made me develop a heart willing to toil and sweat for my nation’s progress and development. The history of Africa and some of her development challenges which my mother shared with me, flamed up my aspirations for a better African continent.
Achieving sustainable development and transformation in Africa that is holistic and inclusive, embracing economic, social, structural, health and environmental dimensions is a possibility but undoubtedly require adequate financing. Africa is not a poor continent, but her enormous natural resources need to be well harnessed and properly channeled towards high target development projects. Deliberate efforts must also be taken to bridge the gaps of illicit financial flows out of the continent.
While I was yet younger, my mother taught me that in tackling any problem, I must always begin from the root, to avoid repeated sprouting of the same issue. Prior to how I would finance development and transformation in Africa, I would first and foremost as an African leader, uproot the weeds that had choked the seeds of development and the cankerworms that countered transformation in Africa over the years- which are foreign aids and corrupt governance. This will in no small measure create suitable development financing climate to facilitate transformative developments in African countries and her regions. Over the past decades and in recent times, most African countries have been dependent on foreign aids for her economic transformation. These aids have at their best solved only an itty-bitty of the continent’s needs but has immensely hindered sustainable development, especially in Sub-Saharan African countries like Liberia, Nigeria, and Angola. Foreign aid is not an answer to Africa’s economic troubles; but in fact, a major contributor to Africa’s underdevelopment woes. As an African leader, I hope to transit from the vagaries of foreign aids to trade and investments. Additionally, in combating corruption, I would enforce effective penal sanctions that will punish corrupt practices at all levels and break the cycle of impunity. I would seek to promote transparency and accountability in administration, access to information and improved financial managements through strengthening of auditing agencies.
With the aforesaid leadership strategies in place, I would hence as a leader, finance development, and transformation in Africa via the following means, as elucidated in the succeeding paragraphs:
Many Africans live outside their home countries. Nigeria is a good example, with over 17 million citizens living abroad. Many of these people are hardworking and are truly interested in developing their home nation. According to Mr. Ben Oguntala, a 39-year-old Londoner of Nigerian origin and CEO of African Market Tourism, “the potential that can be found in the African diaspora is huge. People in the diaspora have a sense of empathy and want to invest back home”. Nigeria for instance, was the highest remittance receiving country in Africa and 6th highest in the world in 2015, receiving $20.8 billion from the diaspora. This scaled up to a total of $35 billion in 2016.3 As an African leader, I would give attention to implementing policy actions that promote diaspora investment potentials to the African continent. My focus would be to encourage the industrious diasporas via institutional engagements, acknowledgment of their contributions, advancing investment initiatives and improving financial incentives by creating fair economic atmosphere. Over the years, these remittances have been channeled towards feeding and some low-valued developments. In my leadership, I would ensure that these investments are seemly tailored towards projects that will serve as precursors for financing further developments.
Moreover, in many African countries, there have been barrels of problems that trammel economic growth. Such problems include but not limited to wastages of resources used in funding the operation of unproductive public enterprises, large scale misuse of grants due to lack of responsibility on the part of public servants managing those firms and preferential treatment in public enterprises. To achieve our SDGs targets as a continent, we must look out for ultimate solution to these problems. As an African leader, I would divest some of these public enterprises to private entrepreneurs via privatization. I would enact clause repossession policy that will closely monitor these private entrepreneurs to ensure full compliance and adequate service delivery. This would pave way to income generation means; such as, boosting the capital market by ensuring sold firms list their shares in the stock market and improved collection of Tax and growth of government revenue which would be used to finance development and transformation of Africa.
What we also need in Africa is a redesigned and well-structured tax system. We are rich in domestic resources that can be translated into a tonic of renewal in our economy. A major problem with tax collection in most African countries remains that the economies are to a great extent informal and thus beyond the reach of Taxmen. This makes tax collection herculean, and in most cases, lead to multi-taxation and illicit tax flows. This impedes the growth of many small medium enterprises(SMEs) and other businesses which constitute the building bricks of every economy. If I have my way as an African leader, I would not hesitate to redesign and reinforce tax policy administration in a way that will improve tax agencies, encourage citizens’ willingness to pay their taxes, reduce tax exemptions and evasion by some multinational companies, and stem illicit taxations. To effectively do this, I would ensure that tax laws and regulations are made comprehensible, convenient and cost-effective to taxpayers and done in the simplest way possible.
Furthermore, Africa’s infrastructural development needs are quite grave, and as such tax revenues may not suffice them. As a leader, I would subscribe to foreign direct investment to finance these developments. Africa is undeniably a potential hub for foreign investors. I recently met a friend who told me that his Boss, a CEO of an Agro-Allied multinational company, had been desiring to invest in Nigeria’s Agricultural sector but had been short-circuited by fear of losses due to policy misalignment. As a leader, I would conscientiously address these problems of policy misalignment, lack of predictability, transparency and legal framework that had fettered foreign investors from investing in our infrastructural projects. This I would do through effective collaborations, development of private-sector fixed-income markets, reduction in aviation charge and advocacy for bankable infrastructure.
I have no doubt that Africans can solve Africa’s development problems through the above financing means alongside other alternative sources. I look forward to seeing Africa become the rising star of the world’s global economy. A continent where sustained development and perennial transformation are trademarks.