African countries need to liberate their thinking and develop new ideas that will allow them to develop while at the same time mitigating the impact of climate change.
The observation was made by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Donald Kaberuka, at the just-concluded African Economic Conference (AEC) in Addis Ababa which was jointly organised by the premier African financial institution, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Speaking during a dinner hosted at the United Nations Conference Centre, Dr. Kaberuka, who missed the opening part of the conference as he was monitoring elections in Tunisia, said that over the past decade, Africa has shown its ability to develop and also have a say on global issues.
Reflecting on the global financial crisis and the current Eurozone crisis, Kaberuka said that the continent has continued to show that it can be part of the solution to global issues while at the same time having an answer to the problems its people face.
The former Rwandan finance minister said that while the United States and some European economies were affected by the crisis, some African countries proved they can withstand the shocks, adding, however, that for the countries to pursue a green development path, they might need to renew their way of thinking.
“Africa has to continue to show its ability to be part of the solution of the problems it faces, and to do so, we need to begin involving our people from the lowest levels in the development process,”
“Many African countries need to liberate the way they think. There is need to refresh and come up with new ideas – we need to develop thinking for the present,” Dr. Kaberuka said.
During the three-day conference on the “Green Economy” which was aimed at seeking ways of how Africa can achieve structural transformation and sustainable development, it was observed that the continent will need to put to use its vast resources and come up with development strategies that favour the continent rather than duplicate others.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Gabriel Negatu, the Director of AfDB East Africa, called on African economies to go green by tapping into the excess liquidity of resources, physical, natural and human if they are to achieve the desired development targets.
To do this, Negatu said regional integration will play a vital role, observing that in parts of Africa where regional integration has been embraced such as the East African Community (EAC), the results have been tremendous while in North Africa, for example where it is not, there is lack of coordination in development.
“There is need for renewable energy and the need to make the agricultural sector sustainable to ensure food security. We also need to stop the massive deforestation which is threatening agriculture.”
“At the same time we need to tackle the challenge of inflation which has proved to be a daunting task in East Africa. We have a challenge of learning to manage our natural resources---and avoid the resource curse by relying on our domestic resources to define our own trajectory,” Negatu said.
Dr. Emmanuel Nnadozie, the Director of Economic Development and NEPAD Division at UNECA said that the “Green Economy” is not a new paradigm in Africa because several countries, including Rwanda, have taken the route to green economy but now it is time for the whole of Africa to take the course.