“Geographic diversity of Africa has implications for products, access to markets, infrastructure, production approaches and everything as anyone might choose to do on the continent.”
Dr. Ifeyinwa Ogo, AfCFTA Regional Coordination Specialist says in her address at the African Business Day (ABD) recently held in Switzerland on the theme: Next Generation in African Markets
The diversity places some countries in desert regions while others in rainforest, some have access to the ocean while some are situated in inland, the population of some countries is in millions while some have less than 100,000 people. These affect doing business in the regions. In spite of all these “interesting and diverse features” of these countries, they have common goals as expressed in the African Union agenda 2063, focusing on “Where does Africa want to go, what are the specific tools to reach Africa, and get to where it wants to get to,” Ifeyinwa explains.
The common goals and quest is not unrelated to some of the approaches to growth and development on the continent believed will eventually rest on the shoulders of African next generation. This is so because of the rate in which the population of the young generation is increasing is faster than those of other continents.
“The bulk of Africa's population is young”, which African Union says are between the ages of 18 and 35, depending on one’s source. And the population is expected to rise to 1 billion by 2063.
“The overarching objective policy wise for young people”, says Ifeyinwa, “is that they should be a benefit to the continent in that they should drive the development on the continent.”
One could see through their activities that they are set for it.
She suggests, that it is important to envisage that these young Africans are the driving force of Africa's growth and diversification; initiating projects or investments and involved in the bulk of the people running the economy of the continent to realize the goals, and agenda 2063.
However these young people live in a rapidly changing climate. And the effects of the impact of climate change will be felt severely on the continent’s economies, infrastructure, environment, societies and people. The impact on the cost of climate change will equally affect food security on the continent.
The African agriculture sector said to account for the bulk of employment in the continent, and up to a third of the GDP, still has a long way to go to meet the demand as far as food security is concerned. African countries are increasing their food production and have done so steadily for over 20 years, “yet there's a high food import bill.”
Reminding the participants at the event, she says, “conflicts in Africa and elsewhere could affect food production in the continent, and what Africa is able to access either by way of primaries or the inputs that actually go into production.”
A concern is the “increase in conflicts on the continent” which may not augur well for the youth, saying: “there's a growing youth group, and a growing youth block, but in some cases there are unmet expectations from the authorities which can likely drive some reactions from the youth. They are more susceptible to armed conflict and react when they are not happy with fiddling things”.
There is increased urbanization, there's climate change, which is forcing people out of their home states, going to some parts of the continent and creating tensions and causing problems.
There's a lot happening on the continent, young people are the drivers of what is going on, for example there are pressures and incentives to transform what is happening on the continent where the CFT is trying to win African economies away from trading primaries to trading in process goods, because what you will find is that intra Africa trade in goods records more in terms of goods that process higher value goods, unlike trade with other parts of the continent, that you will tend to see more primaries. It is important to note that things happening outside Africa do have implications for African countries, not always in the same way.
On the future of Africa, she was asked, she has this to say: “I don't know if it's a brave new world, or something else. But I would like to highlight that on the African continent over the years, there has been quite a bit of change, but hasn't happened in the same way across board. It hasn't happened on the same themes in many of the member states. But there have been changes, things are improving. There's a push policy wise and we actually see some results in some parts of the continent for some of the priorities. There's a lot more to explore,” she concluded.