Addis Ababa, March 21, 2012
Potential investors and donors should be linked to African communities as the development of the grassroots sector has been left for too long in government’s hands. A concerted effort is needed to unleash the potential of the African people.
So says Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, President of African Monitor, an organization that monitors development funding commitments, funding delivery as well as the impact on grassroots communities ahead of the African Finance and Economic Development Ministers meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 26 to 27 March 2012.
“A number of countries in Africa have achieved near double digit growths, but the majority of the people remain poor,” says Archbishop Ndungane. “For the continent to become a new pole of global growth for the world, as is the intended outcome of the meeting in Addis Ababa, something needs to be done differently.
“It is my understanding that what has not been fully utilized are the African people’s potential, minds and intellect,” he says. “We have had unleashing of experimental economic policies and models and unleashing of aid through the Monterrey Consensus (The outcome of the 2002 UN International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey, Mexico) all with sub-optimal results for Africa.”
“It is my belief that now is the time to focus on the unleashing of the integration of the human factor with the non-human elements for the better of the continent.”
Says the Archbishop: “Let’s flip the page of an Africa that is diseased, crying and haplessly in need, to an Africa that is entrepreneurial and links our people in the remotest parts of the continent to opportunities that better their livelihoods. We then turn our begging knees into essential props for entrepreneurship.”
“But,” says Archbishop Ndungane, “if we are premising this positive energy solely on the goodwill of outsiders and neglecting our people and making them spectators in their own game, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes of yesteryear but with heavier costs this time.”
A lack of facilitatory infrastructure, misalignment of government and donor interventions to the grassroots’ realities and aspirations, inadequate mechanisms for committing and ensuring resources flow to grassroots, information unavailability in amounts that would prompt action, inadequate skills, illicit financial flows, inaccessible development support and continuous trade in primary and unprocessed commodities have dogged the continent for far too long.
“These show the realities and leashes that still bind our people,” says the Archbishop. “Unleashing the continental potential will require a concerted effort towards addressing these issues.
“Unleashing Africa’s potential should take the efforts some regional and continental bodies have already embarked on as starting points and put resources and efforts into scaling them up as well as doing them properly.”
Evidence from African Monitor’s grassroots work has shown that the grassroots are marginalized and are aware of this marginalization. They yearn for a platform to combine their work and experience to improve their livelihoods.
The Archbishop said that Africa has to be a pole that benefits and not polarizes global development; the growth should translate into the development of its people.
The link between growth and development remains elusive and the issue of unleashing Africa’s potential as a pole for global growth presents an opportune platform on which a broad-based development agenda, in which the grassroots are key actors, can be developed and activated.
Noting this elusive link between growth and development, African Monitor has opted to embark on direct approaches to development. These approaches immerse the organization into the realities and aspirations of the grassroots people. Through poverty hearings, grassroots capacity building exercises, citizen consultations as well as a grassroots focus index, the organization has found that what the grassroots people want is to be actively part of their development and to have the ability to empower themselves.
“This information is insightful as we seek to unleash continental potential,” says Archbishop Ndungane. “The role of policy makers and governments should change from just facilitating access to our resources and economies to outsiders, to linking our poor people with opportunities.”
The unleashing should be done by tapping into areas of Africa’s strengths and there should be a focus on the national and local growth poles we believe in and not ones we are dictated to by our partners.
African Monitor will be attending the meeting in Addis Ababa and a delegation has already been sent to the country to interact with delegates and to ensure that the grassroots voices are heard and included in the Agenda.