How African Leaders Can Finance Development; My Example!

An African Leader of repute

Financing development is a huge necessity in Africa as it is in other developing countries of the world but it will be difficult to outline how I would be able to finance development as an African leader without first highlighting what development is to Africa and how it came to be.

In the simplest form possible, development is an evolving social construct, an idea created and accepted by the people of our society (Merriam Webster). To put this in perspective, in the year 2000, the United Nations expressed deep concerns for the very poor countries of the world plagued with extreme poverty, hunger, diseases, gender inequality, environmental degradation and many other inadequacies and adopted a millennium declaration to canvass support from rich countries to support poor countries through aid, debt relief and market access (Migro, 2007) and that marked the eventual beginning of an intentional focus on improving the state of the world.

Building on the success of the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals emerged and it is best referred to as the Global Goals designed as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

It is quite unfortunate that Africa is still taking the back sit with respect to development and globalization having low technological advancement, poor quality of life, low standard of living, low human development index etc. as against countries of the global north who are economically developed having stable economies, high life expectancy, quality health care and quality education. (ISM Geo Block C)

I write this essay with great optimism that Africa will arise and take its place in the committee of nations and knowing fully well that I have a very important role to play in this regard.

Going forward, for the purpose of this piece, it is important to note the 1.2 billion Africans expected to double by 2050 have the right to live a good life excused of poverty, they have a right to quality health care, to drink clean water, to a reliable and non-corrupt government and institutions, and a right to peaceful co-existence, to quality education and although this is ambitious but it is a must have as against the backdrop of the current realities that are rather saddening. (Jan Eliasson, UN DSG).

The most crucial thing at the moment upon the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals is not wishful thinking but on implementation, I am more concerned about how the development agenda can be achieved not in isolation but in not leaving anyone behind, in partnering with the people and getting the people to participate in a shared vision, from the civil societies to the public sector, to the private sectors, the academia in bringing this goals to a living reality.

I cannot overemphasise how important financing is for positive development to be the obvious reality in Africa and that will be my major focus in this piece, exploring how to catalyse funding and investment instruments to power the underdeveloped sectors of Africa economies and how I as a leader can ensure this.

I want to quickly note that Africa is underdeveloped because of the type of leaders who have been at the helm of affairs from time immemorial. Most of these leaders are not visionary and lack the foresight and the political will power to engineer positive change forgetting that like John Maxwell, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”.

As a credible leader with competence and character, I will focus on strengthening our financial institutions and blocking leakages, and in conjunction with other arms of government especially the judiciary, I will ensure that corruption is nip in the bud to ensure that the financial instruments adopted and deployed are used for what it is meant for bearing too heart that one of the reasons we are where we are in respect to development is because of the greed and high handedness of political leaders who hold elective positions and use their privilege of service to their advantage, looting and diverting public funds for personal aggrandizement, funds that would have been used for societal transformation, promoting the good of the people and the nation at large.

To the full details of what financing development would function as a veritable African leader, I understand that to end the scourge of poverty, and youth unemployment, we cannot think of just doling money out to citizens however, we can work with development financial institutions putting Nigeria in the picture, we can encourage the growth of small and medium scale business by providing financial instruments like concessional loans where start-ups are encouraged to take loans to build, grow and scale their small businesses, although the loans will be paid back but with very little or no interest, this will encourage wealth creation and economic freedom, and as more jobs are created, poverty is abated.

Many Non-Governmental Organizations today are concentrating much efforts in promoting access to quality education for out-of-school children, others are dealing with the challenge of maternal mortality, poor primary health care centres and poor health care systems and because these changes do not happen overnight, it is important to deploy financial instruments like grants to help their field works and ease their monitoring and evaluation of the rot of the system to provide the government sufficient data to act on. These are totally selfless services that do not guarantee personal profiting to individuals engaged in this form of activity.

Reforms in the Food and Agriculture sector, health sector, education sector and all sectors in a country are things the I will focus on as an African leader to transform the continent and my country of origin which is supposed to be my constituency. This is needing of a lot of money and proper management of these funds. There is no gainsaying about the fact that the biggest source of money for financing is when citizens pay tax and this really makes everyone a stakeholder in financing the development agenda, as an African leader, I am duty bound to ensuring that citizens of my country, state or local government are true to paying their taxes and that as a leader, I ensure transparency and accountability in managing the funds that trickle in as taxes. These taxes will go a long way to fund construction of roads, provision of electricity, building of schools and primary health care centres and much more.

I am also conversant with the fact that some capital intensive private sector run industries also require funding to run and scale their activities and these ones might not need small concessional loans but regular loans with interest rates based on market rates and on borrowers credit rating, and/or bonds I will also empower financial institutions and provide a good environment for them to thrive and be able to meet the development needs of these growing industries.

As we continue to embrace technologies, advance on the path of industrialization and model best practices in the different industries of the continent, I will also provide an enabling environment for equity investments for private-run businesses, in this case, investors providing money into a new company will own a share and profiting is based on company doing well and if otherwise, investment funds are lost.

All the many methods and models that I have highlighted above can only be brought to fruition if I leverage on the breakthrough of youth inclusion in governance and contest elective position and emerge. By this, I can explore various tools and ways to push my agenda towards a peaceful and prosperous Africa.

Speaking at TEDxIbara on “How Emerging Technologies Power Agriculture in Emerging Economies”