Regional countries must stop blaming their failure on the past, if they are to grow and develop faster and sustainably, the Vice President of Comoros said at the start of a regional meeting in Moroni on Tuesday.
More than 200 experts from 14 eastern African countries are in the Comoros capital to discuss catalysts and constraints to transformative growth in the resource rich region.
Djaffar Ahmed Said Hassani told the meeting that while some African countries, including Rwanda and Mauritius, show very impressive results on the development front, many others continue perpetuating afro pessimism, “as if we are condemned to die poor or underdeveloped.”
“It is high time we stopped blaming everything on the past, as well as the previous governments to justify our failure. Worse still, others continue publically accusing some super powers of being the unique cause of our impasse, as if it is their responsibility to develop us,” he added.
“The countries that have done well today are countries with a very difficult past but whose people understood that what is important for them is the future of their country.”
Africa, he added, is not only land and space. ‘‘It is, above all, humans with thinking abilities.’’ He stressed a conviction that a change of mindset is a necessary condition for economic development.
The general observation on the first day of the Moroni meeting – a three day session jointly organised by the Economic Commission for Africa and the Government of Comoros – is that industrial-led growth is an important driver in achieving national development targets.
Lacklustre performance of the region’s manufacturing sector was highlighted among the constraints.
Hassani said the 21st meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) of Eastern Africa is happening at an opportune time when the Union has reaffirmed its vision to make Comoros an emerging country by 2030.
For the last five years, the ECA has been urging African countries to match their developmental ambitions with manufacturing and industrialisation efforts that generate more employment opportunities. The meeting is set to take stock of progress made on that journey towards transformation.
The meeting is also a platform to share best practices.
During a panel discussion on the macroeconomic and social developments in the region, Godfrey Kabera, the Director General national development planning and research, at Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance, shared the country’s experience in growth of industry and manufacturing.
“Industry has been growing at 6.5% on average over the last five years. More is being done to develop manufacturing. Provincial industrial parks are being developed and the Kigali Special Economic Zone is being expanded,” Kabera told the meeting.
Besides this, he said, a ‘Made-in-Rwanda’ campaign is being undertaken aggressively to change the mindset of consumers and raise awareness of locally manufactured products.
Andrew Mold, the Acting Director of ECA in Eastern Africa, stressed that “the main objective of this meeting is to discuss catalysts and constraints for attaining a more sustainable and inclusive growth, and the meeting is intended to allow member states to exchange experiences to avoid the more obvious pitfalls.’’
Matthias Naab, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System and the Representative of UNDP in Comoros, said the meeting was a great opportunity to advance economic integration.