THE magnitude of the economic potential of Africa is so great that it can become the continent with the greatest combined economy.
The reality is that Africa has vast and exceptionally diversified economic potential, albeit that up to now the development and exploitation of that potential has been minimal.
The diverse economic resources include:
Immense natural resources including various minerals (which include gold, diamonds, oil, platinum, chrome and many others). The natural resources include many others such as great forests able to yield much timber and various other products. They also include attractive tourism resources, ranging from magnificent beaches and enjoyable access to seas, various lakes, mountains and wild life parks.
Much of Africa comprises rich arable land, potentially supportive of large herds of cattle, sheep, ostriches and various other animals which are commercially beneficial. The agricultural potential also includes many varieties of fruits, vegetable and other crops.
Enormous industrial potential to service the needs of a continental population of more than 400 million, and extensive exports to other continents. The industrial potential includes value addition enterprises and operations to many minerals and agricultural output.
Great availability of skilled and unskilled labour that can be engaged to assure operations in all fields of economic activity.
However, there are a variety of key requirements that must be met if Africa’s vast potential is to be realised. First and foremost is the need for extensive domestic and foreign investment. For investors to be motivated to invest in Africa they require:
Incontrovertible assurance of investment security, and that there will be no misuse of trademarks, patents, franchises and technology transfers;
The ability to transfer to their countries of residence, and elsewhere, dividends, directors’ fees, administration and management fees, and of proceeds of any subsequent investment disposals;
Ready availability of all essential utilities and other services;
Equitable and conducive taxation (direct and indirect) policies and legislation;
Perceptions of currency stability;
Conducive labour relations.
Pursuant to some of the investor requirements and expectations crucial to economic development and growth, it is critical that:
The relevant African countries have substantive infrastructural resources which are prerequisites of viable economic operations, including energy generation facilities be they coal or other fuels, hydro-electrical or solar, transportation resources, roads, and telecommunications;
A labour environment which recognises and fulfills the need for sound relationships within the labour environments, and between labour and employers;
Control of crime, in general, and of corruption in particular.
Achieving all of the investor motivation requirements, and the creation of strong and viable economic environments is primarily (but not wholly), contingent upon the governments of respective African countries, and upon constructive e interaction between the members of the African Union, especially neighbouring and regional countries.
Concurrently, the motivation to achieve meaningful economic development exists amongst the populace of the majority of Africa because of the magnitude and widespread poverty that presently prevails in an overwhelming majority of Africa’s countries.
Enhancing and stimulating domestic economic development and growth, and fuelling international and investor support is especially contingent upon practical governmental policies and actions, including ensuring educational of the fundamentals of economics, reinforced by quality universities, technical and other colleges and institutions, facilitation of entrants into the economies, and availability of funding for small and medium enterprises.
It is also essential that there be:
Realism on the part of governments as to sound and satisfactory labour legislation fairly addressing the needs and wellbeing of labour and employers alike;
Remuneration for labour which is not only just and equitable, having regards to the nature and extent of labour services, and skills, but also enhanced by productivity;
Sound and extensive national education and training;
Yet another important factor in ensuring strong and viable economies is that governments energetically fight corruption in both the public and private sectors.
Should all these actions be intensively pursued by Africa’s governments including of course our own, Africa will doubtlessly have many thriving and robust economies.