With major players looking to ‘˜emerging markets’ as a source of growth for their products in the face of declining sales in their traditional markets and regions, local South Africa transport companies are increasingly looking to service Africa as a new area of growth. An example of this was given in our last newsletter where we told of Imperial Holdings Limited acquiring 49% of MDS, a leading logistics provider in Nigeria for US$26 million.
Given this, the message from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark that an optimistic future for sub-Saharan Africa with higher levels of human development is possible through greater engagement with other regions of the South, is encouraging.
Discussing the 2013 Human Development Report at a side event at the African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa recently, Clark said the theme of the AU Summit, ‘˜African Renaissance’, bolstered the report’s conclusion that the countries of the South are transforming themselves and the world around them.”UNDP’s 2013 Human Development Report addresses the ‘˜Rise of the South’, and argues that a significant number of developing countries – including in Africa – have transformed themselves into dynamic economies with growing geopolitical clout – radically reshaping the world of the 21st century,’ she said.
“Africa and the world are more interconnected through trade, investment, migration, mobile phones and new communications technology than ever before and sub-regional and regional entities such as the African Union have contributed to this reality,’ she said. “Importantly, cooperation between countries in the south is rapidly increasing.
The Report stresses that the rise of the south is not just about the world’s largest countries. “It puts forward more than 40 developing nations which have notably
accelerated their human development progress in recent years,’ she said. Released in March, the Report and its accompanying Human Development Index (HDI) show the Africa region as having the second highest growth after South Asia over the past 10 years.
Compared to other regions, however, sub-Saharan Africa still has the lowest average national HDI – yet of the 14 countries in the world that recorded HDI gains of more
than two percent annually since 2000, 11 are in the region. These top-performers on the HDI include a mix of countries with or without resources as well as diversified and high-performing agriculture-based economies like Angola, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Uganda, with Sierra Leone showing the second-highest HDI improvement in the world since 2000.
New lessons and experiences from outside Africa and increasingly from within the region itself, have been used to generate new opportunities for the poor. For example, Asian-built mobile phones have made cellular banking cheaper and easier, while leading to better market performance and increased profits by small farmers, as seen in Kenya, Niger and Uganda. Kenya’s experience with m-pesa has transformed the banking sector in the country, given broad sections of the population access to financial services. Delegates at the side event heard how many African success stories are themselves reshaping ideas and strategies on how to attain higher levels of human development.
The Report argues that these advances are best achieved in countries with strong leadership, openness to trade and a focus on innovative social policies.To sustain or accelerate HDI improvement in sub-Saharan Africa in coming decades, countries in the region must strive to reduce inequalities, with a particular focus on youth, women and marginalized populations, the Report says.
As the region’s population continues to grow strongly, emphasis should be placed on translating economic growth into job creation. This also requires an investment in
young people’s education and training and especially empowering women so they can take an active part in their countries’ economic and development gains.
Commenting on the 50th Anniversary of the AU, formerly the Organization of African Unity, Clark said the leadership of the African Union is playing a large part in
promoting economic and social development, good governance and peace and security across the continent.
‘As we mark this 50-year anniversary, we look forward to Africa deepening, broadening, and accelerating human development. UNDP looks forward to continuing its work in partnership with the African Union, its member states and all partners on the continent and beyond who are committed to Africa’s development,’ Clark concluded.
About the United Nations Development Programme
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality
of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, the UNDP offers global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient
By all accounts, South Africa is missing the boat and I put this solely down to the blatant lack of leadership in the country. This was succinctly highlighted in a headline carried on the front page of The Citizen on May 31, 2913, which read: “Zuma speaks, Rand drops.’ The million dollar question is: “How do we get our political elite to focus on the things that will grow and develop the country and its people as a whole rather than on the things that merely enrich and benefit a few well connected elites?’ They are so disappointing!