Open borders for Africa to fully rise – Experts

Moderator, Frannie Leautier (L) and panelists (L-R) Uhuru Kenyatta, Winnie Byanyima, Tony O. Elumelu and David A. Lipton yesterday.

For Africa to fully rise, nations across the continent must open up borders and revise policies to facilitate free movement of people and goods, top economists and entrepreneurs have said.

Speaking at the ongoing World Economic Forum for Africa, the entrepreneurs and economists observed that entrepreneurial capacities of the youth are often held back by challenges posed by lack of policies to facilitate free movement of people, goods and services.

This often leaves numerous investment and market opportunities untapped or expensive to access.

Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank, stressed the role of youth in contributing to the continent’s development by facilitating their free movement across the African countries.

This will see them tap into market and investment opportunities to expand the scope of their enterprises and create more job opportunities.

Ashish Thakkar, the co-founder of Atlas Mara Group observed that migration and movement barriers across Africa where citizens of Europe and America had access to more African countries than Africans were a major setback for scores of emerging young entrepreneurs.

Citing an example of Rwanda’s visa on arrival policy for African passport holders, Thakkar said the country had been able to open itself up for major investments and attract top skills and technologies that had contributed to rapid development in recent years.

The experts also called for revision and improvement of education across the continent to equip African learners for competition globally.

“The future of emerging economies will not rely on natural resources but rather, the skills and talents of young Africans. This calls for African governments to see to it that African learners are globally competitive to access opportunities all over the world,” Kaberuka said.

The traditional higher learning institutions which had failed to change with time came under fire for failing to equip young learners with skills that match the current market situations.

Fred Swaniker, the founder of the African Leadership Group which is aiming at transforming higher learning said it was time to revise higher learning institutions to equip the continent for digital transformation.

Going forward, the experts note that the social economic progress through digital transformation will also require African countries to chart their own path and avoid ‘copy pasting’ approaches adopted by other parts of the world.

Thakkar said if the intention of the continent is to leap frog, it was important for African governments, societies and corporations to  avoid replicating  approaches of other continents but seek which suit them best.

The forum is under the theme, “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation” convening about 1500 delegates for deliberations on a range of the continent’s economic aspects, including analysing opportunities and risks with a bias for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Source: The New Times

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