African thought leaders and great minds have noted that the development of homegrown solutions and adequate investment in human capacity building and agricultural expansion are key steps that will help to rebuild Africa and put the continent on a stronger footing post-COVID-19.
Analysing the theme: “Domestic Policies, Regional Development and a Global Agenda: SDGs and African Development at Crossroads,” the speakers collectively gave this submission during the second panel session of the 2020 edition of United Bank for Africa African Day Conversations.
The virtual session, which was moderated by veteran journalist and media consultant, Eugenia Abu, was made up of thought leaders from across Africa, including the Regional CEO, UBA West Africa, Abiola Bawuah (Ghana); Senior Programme Coordinator, Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes, Dr. Nalishebo Meebelo (Zambia); Leadership Coach and Chairman, Go Ahead Africa Limited, Roland Kwemain (Cameroon); Founder and Executive Director, Social Change Factory, Sobel Aziz Ngom (Senegal); Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi (Nigeria); and Social Entrepreneur and Founder, LEAP Africa, Ndidi Nwuneli (Nigeria).
Bauwah, who emphasised how Africa should rely less on foreign donors, said: “There are five areas we should work on more for us to reach the SDG goals: private sector; rapid industrialisation; institutions and the rule of law; develop our human capital; remove the barriers across Africa.
“We should institute Africapitalism, which is an economic philosophy that says that the human and capital resources of Africa are the only ways in which we can develop Africa.”
Meebelo noted that there are a lot young people can do along the value chain of manufacturing, transporting, technology and marketing, adding: “Government cannot do it alone.
“They need to work with other stakeholders.
“Cut and paste solutions do not work for us here in Africa.
“We need to have our own homegrown solutions to fight this pandemic.”
Abu, who focused on the huge role that women and youth must play in rebuilding the continent, said that Africa needs to work together to provide solutions to its numerous challenges.
“Women, entrepreneurial champions, young people and collaborations between African countries are very key to developing Africa,” she stated.
Nwuneli, who was saddened that the agricultural sector remained hugely untapped, emphasised the need for a change of mindset where people usually equated agriculture to poverty.
She said: “This is a $1 trillion industry and we are neglecting it.
“Therefore, my charge to you is that we invest in the agricultural sector, prioritise it, leverage it, transform our educational system to prepare our young people for this sector, change the mindset and trade with each other.”
Ngom pointed out the need for the youth to take charge in Africa.
Ngom said: “It is time to not just serve young people, but to trust them to lead.
“The challenge that we have at the domestic and continental level is making the change in our structure and in the political system that give the place to young people to be 100 per cent engaged.”
In his submission, Ogunlesi said: “All over the countries, young people are seizing opportunities.
“And we need to start thinking about how to make sure that this is not just for the age of COVID but for now and beyond COVID-19.
“Even if the pandemic was to disappear today, I hope that the lessons we’re learning, we’re not going to forget them and go back to where we used to be.”
For Kwemain, more institutions need to follow the line of UBA in events such as UBA Africa Conversations.
He said: “If 100 multinationals in Africa were doing that UBA is doing, we would go far because CSR is an amazing leverage not just for the brand but also for supporting people and women in terms of activities.
“The truth is that we need partnership between the government, corporates and the civil society.”
The United Bank for Africa is a leading pan-African financial institution offering banking services to more than 20 million customers globally.
With footprint in 20 African countries and presence globally in the United Kingdom, USA and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services.