By OLUWOLE FAROTIMI
Eminent Nigerians, including Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka; Professor of Economics and Director of African of Study of African Economies at Oxford University, Paul Collier, yesterday ruminated on ways out of the country’s woes, saying the African continent is in dire need of developmental policies.
Speaking at the 2012 Lagos Kuramo Conference, yesterday, they said it was high time the African continent churned out policies to develop its potentials rather than waiting for loans and grants from other developed continents. In his remarks, Professor Wole Soyinka, who was the chairman of the occasion, urged African leaders to address some of the factors responsible for economic woes and also begin to reposition the continent for greatness.
He said if China was able to transform her economy to the second largest in the world in a decade, it was possible for Africa to do the same. The convener of the conference, Governor Fashola, said the continent needed to look inward for answers to some of her economic challenges. Fashola, who observed that most African countries preferred doing business with the West and Asia, said the situation had not really helped the economic development of the continent. He said: “African countries need to trade with each other in order to optimally utilise the abundant natural resources on the continent and put her on the path of prosperity.
Why can’t we encourage a policy to compel African countries to trade with one another in Zambian Copper, Ghanaian cocoa, Cameroonian coffee, Malian cotton and of course Nigerian oil? “Why don’t we promote the United States of Africa in trade? Why don’t we support the idea of an Afro-zone? The integration of Africa in trade will, no doubt, impact positively on the economies of African countries. This is what we should be thinking about. It is good for our collective prosperity,” he said. Fashola said Africa was strategic to global economic development, saying the natural and human resources had over the years been used to drive the development of western economies.
Also speaking, Dr, Dambisa Moyo, an international economist, regretted that Africa, with over one billion people, which is about half of the global population, controlled only two per cent of the global economy. She implored African leaders to begin to look for creative ways of solving the continent’s age long challenges, saying corruption had to be confronted to rescue the continent from economic woes.
The conference also saw the launch of the Lagos Court of Arbitration, which seeks to intervene in business and contractual disputes in the West African sub-region. It was inaugurated at the conference. In his plenary speech, Professor Paul Collier, who urged the Federal Government to implement the Nuhu Ribadu controversial reports rather than throwing it into trashcan, said the problem of corruption in the nation’s oil sector remains the bane of development in the country.