The route to Africa’s structural transformation begins at the capacity building level, say experts at the annual meetings of the African Development Bank. Panellists at a seminar on “Policies for Africa’s Structural Transformation, What is the Role for Think Tank?” agree that building necessary skilled manpower will help Africa transform structurally.
“One key ingredient of economic transformation is skilled manpower. It should not be underrated. We need to build up the middle class to create wealth,” says William Lyakurwa, Executive Director of the Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC).
Dr Nkossana Moyo, Executive Director of the Mandela Institute of Development Studies, decries the low capacity of skilled manpower. “We have a fundamental problem; we don’t openly acknowledge our deficiencies. We are prone to listening to outsiders than doing our own analysis,” he says.
Dr Moyo believes connecting the right diagnosis of the continent’s problem with planning will deliver structural transformation.
Prof. Mwangi Kimenyi, Director of the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative, argues the growth profile of Africa is flat when compared to Asian and Latin American countries because these countries have undergone structural transformation; moving from rudimentary agriculture to higher manufacturing and services.
“Economic transformation is key to the youth unemployment; we have a lot of visions and politicians are itching to implement policies but they need to know what the policies are,” says.
Calling for effective research communication channels, Sarah Ssewanyana, Executive Director, Economic Policy Research Centre, Uganda, opines that a well-packaged research is vital to effective policy making. “How do we communicate to key stakeholders? Research papers should be appropriately packaged for effective policy engagement,” she says.
Skeptical of effectiveness of African institutions, Dr Moyo asserts that “African institutions broadly are not working. We create institutions we don’t use and depend on outsiders to tell us what to do. We need not confuse academic smartness and profile of institutions with understanding the reality on ground”.
Other speakers called for inclusiveness in the policy making and decision processes while cautioning against overconfidence in research papers.