HOTUBA YA MAKAMU WA RAIS ALIYOITOA KWENYE MKUTANO WA AFRICA NOW 2019SUMMIT

KEYNOTE SPEECH

 

BY

 

H.E. SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN

VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA

 

On the Leadership Needed to Catalyze Africa’s Socio-Economic Transformation

 

Delivered at the Africa Now Conference

12th March, 2019, UGANDA

 

 

Your Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda,

 

Excellencies Heads of States and Governments,

 

Heads of Delegations,

 

Leaders from International Organizations,

 

Leaders from the Private Sector,

 

Distinguished Guests;

 

Friends from the Media,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Goodmorning,

 

Thank you H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Republic of Uganda and the People of Uganda for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to me and my delegation. Indeed, it is always a pleasure to be in this beautiful city of Kampala. I have been asked by your brother and friend, H.E. Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania to convey his regret for not being able to join you today due to exigencies of office that requires his personal presence. He sent with me warm wishes for the success of this august conference.

 

Your Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

We are meeting today to discuss about the kind of leadership needed to catalyze Africa’s socio-economic transformation. This could not come at a better time than now. Over the last decade Africa has experienced high and steady economic growth and recorded significant progress across many other social economic indicators. It was not surprising that the narratives emerged about ‘African rising’ and ‘African century’.  And that’s all about the current issues narrated by H.E. Yoweri Museveni.

 

Notwithstanding the progress, the bitter truth is that, these developments are uneven and patchy and therefore vary between and across countries and region. Also, this impressive growth story has not been translated in economic diversification, commensurate into jobs or faster social development of many of our people. The agony of food insecurity, high unemployment, poverty and inequality are still haunting our countries and our dear continent.

 

It goes without saying that Africa is still in need of a major transformation. This is also the aspiration and spirit of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union which laid down 7 aspiration and four being my favorite ones, namely:

  1. A prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;
  2.  An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance;
  3.  An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law; and
  4. An Africa whose development is people driven, relying on the potential offered by African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.

 

I thought I should mention those aspirations first so that we can have a sense of the weight of the expectation, gravity of the task and kind of leadership needed to deliver those aspirations that we all agree need to be achieved if we are to transform this continent. The leadership will require to be able to grasp the mega trends that are shaping our continent, and have a capacity to maneuver, transcend and use them to our advantage. I have in mind the demographic challenge, regional integration, governance, science, technology and innovation and gender.

 

Certainly, such momentous task cannot be achieved by the business as usual type of leadership. The leadership that is needed should be able to work not outside the box but across boxes; leadership that can harness and manage diversity, complexity and disruption brought by technology and demography, leadership that can solve problems sustainably and which is transformative.

 

Reap the Demographic Dividend

 

Your Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Africa is the youngest continent of all at the moment. Statistics show that by 2050 Africa will have the world’s 10 youngest countries. A median age in Africa is below 20 years. In demographic terms, that means, we are experiencing a youth bulge with more young people than elders. This is both good news and bad news to our continent. If we can be able to invest properly in this segment of our population in terms of health, right education and skills, we can have a productive workforce whose energy can translate into demographic dividend like what South East Asia experience has taught us. If we do not, the unskilled, unemployed and frustrated youth may become a source of our insecurity and conflicts. It is a boom or burst scenario.

 

If we are to transform Africa, the leadership must take decisive measures in investing in children and young people. The leadership must ensure right investment for new born babies in terms of nutrition and vaccination to avoid stunting that affect the learning abilities and learning outcomes of our children. Access to education should be guaranteed and most important we should ensure its quality and focus on learning outcomes than passing grades. In addition, we should review our curriculums to respond to the fast-changing world with relevant skills set. We are told, the world has embarked on 4th Industrial Revolution where many jobs we have today will be replaced by robotics and artificial intelligence. And thus we need leadership that can comprehend that, and can do what is possible to bring such transformation so that our youth bulge can bring to us dividend than woes.

 

Your Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

On Regional integration we are still lagging behind.    Our economies are least integrated among ourselves. Our intra-trade in Africa is low at 15 percent compared to other regions such as 19 percent in Latin America, 51 percent in Asia and 72 percent for Europe. Many factors explain why intertrade in Africa is too low ,issues of infrastructure such as roads, air transport, energy, lack of diversification, and, tariffs and non-tariffs barriers. It is the last one, tariffs and non-tariffs barrier (NTBs) that can change Africa’s fortune, if we can strike that kind of leadership that can overcome petty nationalism that result into many of these NTBs.

 

The leadership to take us far must think regional rather than national. I must say however that I am impressed with the encouraging signs of progress in many of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) including our own East African Community (EAC), and progress in establishing a Continental Free Trade Agreement, that is pending for enough ratification to enter into force.

 

Our people fortunately have shown us the way. They are integrating faster than us leaders and our organizations. They trade, they visit one another and connect in many unimaginable ways, thanks to technology. Leadership need to catch up and actually be ahead of change and trends.  We need to be vigilant since we are the  lagging ones and not our people. The policies we set should strive towards eliminating Non-Trade Barriers amongst ourselves. Not many of us in the continent are doing well in the Ease of Doing Business. Transformative leaders must address this in order to unlock employment and investment opportunity.  The time is now.

 

 

Governance and Accountability

Your Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Guests

 

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In governance, there lies our biggest ‘Achilles heel’. Despite commendable gains in the past 2 decades in terms of political stability this is not the case for our  security situation which is  still in a state of flux and precarious. According to the Mo Ibrahim Index Report of 2018, 27 of African countries have shown some improvements. In remaining 25 countries, which are home to 43.2 percent of Africa’s population, the report says that, Sustainable Economic Opportunity performance has declined over the last ten years. Issues of governance, human rights and corruption remain topical. This state of affairs deters investment and translates to missed economic opportunities we badly need to transform our continent.

 

The 2015 AU Report by the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, indicated that this continent loses on average 50 billion USD annually through illicit financial flows. Furthermore, the African Union (2002) estimated that African Countries loose more than 25 percent of the GDP to corruption, while the African Development Bank (AfDB) revealed that 50 percent of tax revenue is lost every year. Suffice to say, Africans loose more than what we get as aid. These staggering amounts would have helped lift many poor African people from the grips of abject poverty.  What if these resources could be invested within the continent? How many jobs would have been created? The onus to reverse this lies to anyone else than ourselves.

 

So in order to bring prosperity economic pursuit must be accompanied by effective political governance. We must strengthening institutions of governance, guarantee rule of law, uphold integrity and accountability, foster legitimacy by nurturing dialogue over force, harnessing diversity and inclusiveness, effectively communicate to inspire and instill hope to our young people. That way, we will avoid unnecessary conflicts that decimates our efforts to transform our continent.

 

 

Leveraging Science, Technology and Innovation

 

Your Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Science, technology and innovation can bring about many solutions to our problems. Whether infrastructure development or increasing productivity of our agriculture, reducing post-harvest loss, or mitigating effects of climate change, or creating employments, extracting natural resources and boast our exports of processed as opposed to raw materials, all  these necessitates  that we make advancement in our state of science and technology.

 

Unfortunately, this is an area that our continent lags so much behind in all aspects. We score low both at individual countries and collectively as a continent in spending in Research and Development (R&D). Hence, if we are to claim a place of honour in the 21st century, we must invest seriously in science and technology. I mean, first and foremost, we have to start with our education system and invest heavily in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEMs) subjects whose intake and performance are declining in Africa.  In our countries, we have smaller ratio of engineers, doctors, mathematicians compared to ratio of lawyers and other social scientists. This is an anomaly that need to be corrected.

 

Transforming Africa also means lifting African countries from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) category to at least Middle-Income Countries (MICs). When looking closely, even  those African countries which are in the MIC category, many are resource rich countries whose structure of economies are dominated by primary economic activities such as extraction.  Secondary and tertiary activities are minimal or seriously lacking. We must face the painful reality that, primary activities can not transform this continent. Rather, will make us remain into vicious cycle of uncertainty due to ever changing nature of commodity prices in the world market.

The answer therefore lies in industrialization. Fortunately, we have all it takes in terms of raw materials needed for industrialization. What we are lacking is capital and supportive soft and hard infrastructure, critical of which, is energy. Africa would have to at least triple its current power generation capacity over the next two decades. The World Bank estimates that only 1 percent private sector capital flows for energy reaches Africa, whereas 34 percent goes to Asia and 26 percent to Latin America. We need to create conducive and supportive environment for investment in this sub-sector.

 

Another dynamic that we are yet to grasp is the power of information and communication technology in transforming our continent. So far, across the continent, our young people have taken front seat to seize the opportunity of internet to create start up companies, innovate solutions and developing products. We therefore need the leadership that sees the opportunity of ICT in driving development in Africa. Tony has sent it all.

 

 

Gender Equality and Women Empowerment

 

Your Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

They say save the best for the last!  So, before I wind up my keynote address, I wish to talk about Women. I do so for two reasons, first, just few days ago we commemorated the International Women’s Day. And second, apart from the fact that I am a woman, it is an economic fact too that inclusion of women in the economy makes a good economic sense. It is also a fact that progress of any society or civilization is best measured by the state of their women. This is also true about Africa, if we are to transform this continent, we cannot do so if we cannot first and foremost improve the status of our women.

 

Women make up half of the population of our dear continent. However, their half a share is not reflected in other important statistics. What we see is that women score higher than a half in virtually all bad statistics in Africa. Actually, to say the least, poverty in Africa has a woman face.

So, there has to be a leadership that is ready to correct the historical injustice, that has courage to stand against patriarchy and change the narration that portrays women as second-class citizens. The leadership that will be gender sensitive to women needs for better reproductive health, safety against malpractices, political inclusion and economic empowerment. What is encouraging is that, most of our governments have taken significant strides to correct these injustices to women by devising policies and enacting laws. Unfortunately, most of our legislations still accommodates some customary norms and practices that are still hostile to women in many ways.  Yes, it will take time,  to transform but it is possible and achievable. We need a leadership that can stand this test of our time.

 

 

 

Conclusion

Your Excellencies,

 

Distinguished Guests,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In my parting remarks, I hope I have managed to shed light on the aspirations we have for the transformed continent, dynamics which are at play and kind of leadership that is needed to achieve that transformation. Unlike the past, we are today at a better place to achieve this transformation. Across the continent, our youth, women, private sector and scientists are trying so hard to push progress and changing lives. What is required is leadership that is transformative and supportive to our people who have shown to be ahead of governments in pushing the horizons. It is the leadership, not our people that need to change. We need to change now and change faster to catch up with them if we are to transform our continent. We need to think beyond next elections and think for next generation. The future can be ours!