African think-tank views capacity development as missing link in AU's Agenda 2063 (Analysis by Kennedy Abwao, PANA Correspondent)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Africa has lagged behind in the implementation of its social and economic development plans due to the lack of capacity in the key fields of health, education, science and technology, according to experts.

In January 2017, the African Union Heads of State and Government Assembly, declared the Harare-based African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) a Specialised Agency of the AU, to lead new efforts to improve continental capability.

According Emmanuel Nadozie, Executive Secretary of ACBF, the lack of capacity to implement key development strategies in Africa led to failure.

The AU has embarked on the implementation of its grand economic vision, known as Agenda 2063, a continental plan to accelerate economic and political development while also echoing Africa's voice globally.

Agenda 2063 aims to unite Africa towards a common goal of economic development, aiming to create a continental free trade zone, linking the continent through regional cross-border highways and hyper-highways and, at least, a link to high-speed railway connection to every African capital before 2063.

According to the AU, the plan is continental, but every AU member state has a responsibility to implement the programme or series of programmes to actualise the grand economic vision.

"We are very happy the African Heads of State saw it in their wisdom to designate ACBF as a Specialised Agency of the AU to pursue economic development in the continent," Nadozie told PANA in an interview. "We are also aware of the fact that this is a whole lot of responsibility."

Nadozie said one of the reasons why most important continental strategies for enhancing economic development have failed was the lack of capacity to implement programmes.

"A lot of very good strategies and programmes on how to develop the African continent have not resulted in the desired development outcomes because of the lack of capacity. Capacity is the missing link between a good plan and results," he said.

Nadozie said the designation of the ACBF as a Specialised Agency of the AU gives the Harare, Zimbabwe-based think-tank the leverage to mobilise financial resources and the partnerships required to strengthen the implementation capacity.

The AU targeted the development of infrastructure projects under its Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which is currently pursuing key roads and highways projects.

Nadozie said the lack of capacity has been more prominent in the inability to coordinate projects being implemented across borders.

"There is lack of capacity in keeping with the mindset changes, the capacity in coordination and project leadership. In the past, we were told the problem with infrastructure development was the lack of finance. But money is actually not the problem. The problem we have been informed by the big financiers is the lack of bankable projects.

"There is no money for development of bankable projects. The money that is available is for bankable projects which have already been developed," Nadozie explained.

The ACBF is looking forward to its new status to mobilise resources from institutions, individuals and development financiers, to develop projects which could attract financing. It has appealed to the African Development Bank and the World Bank to consider investing funds for capacity development within the ACBF itself.

"Internally, our designation as a specialised agency of the AU gives us authority to mobilise support for capacity development. This capacity is at the centre of the development agenda 2063," Nadozie said.

In keeping with the dictates of this Agenda, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking during his oath-taking ceremony to mark the start of a controversial second-term in November, said Nairobi would grant visa on arrival to all African citizens.

"We will embrace more Africans," Kenyatta said. "Any African will be eligible to receive a visa on arrival to underscore our commitment to Pan-Africanism. The balkanisation over security issues will recede as we embrace more Africans."

The AU and experts from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) estimate the implementation of the African Union's driven Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) would accelerate trade within Africa by 54%. This would accelerate the process of industrialisation.

According to the AU, the CFTA would require just five years of existence to ignite an ambitious process of economic liberalisation and market-opening.

Clearing the barriers to economic development in the continent was one of the key agenda items of the AU Summit in 2012, which resolved to pursue the ambitious project of economic liberalisation and market-opening.

Experts believe more trade agreements would be signed by African countries to collaborate on manufacturing, creating centres of trade in agricultural products and manufacturing centres.

-0- PANA AO/AR 6Jan2018

06 january 2018 13:46:53

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