The coordination of policies which execution will recognise Africa’s human resource assets, and regulate access to it in a manner that advances the economic interests of the continent have become inevitable if the continent must attain its goal of economic growth, the Director General of the Consumer Protection Council, Babatunde Irukera has said.
Irukera, who made the point during his presentation at the Africa Policy Forum of the Leeds University Centre of Africa Studies of the University of Leeds, recently, noted that Africa’s greatest assets are its people and skills, but lamented that the assets are also Africa’s greatest export, adding that UK, US and Canada top list of beneficiaries of Africa’s exported human resource assets.
Justifying the position, the Director General said: “Africans are key applicants to nations with skills acquisition immigration policies which focus on highly skilled migrants, whether it’s USA, Canada or U.K,” adding that the countries benefit from people who have acquired certain skills they need without the time and resource required to invest in development.
In the presentation titled “Africa’s Emerging Market: A matter of Asset and Access”, Irukera stated that the increasing value of the African market is underscored by rising consumer spending across the continent which was about $1.4 trillion in 2015, and projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025.
This growth, he said is driven by key factors such as a young and growing population, rise in incomes, rapid urbanization and widespread adoption of technology.
Irukera cited statistics to underscore the burgeoning population which is driving the growing expansion and importance of its market as including 16% of global population (1.2 billion) living in Africa; more than half of global population growth between now and 2050 expected to occur in Africa; and Africa’s population to reach 2.5 billion by 2050 (more than double of current population).
He called for the prioritization of robust regulation and stronger competition policies as a core strategy in the quest for Africa’s economic renaissance in a changing world, describing Africa’s market as its greatest economic asset.
Irukera also advocated for the implementation of simple widely acknowledged principles of asset management and strategies to maximize the benefits from markets in order to overcome poverty and achieve significant economic growth.
He noted that “asset management essentially refers to a systematic approach to governance and realization of value.”
Irukera, who called stronger focus on robust regulation and competition regimes to overcome current challenges and maximize existing opportunities said the positive impact of improved competition and regulation regimes on the continent are real and felt by all strata of society from the highest levels down to the lowest rungs.
“The kind of growth that connects the numbers to people and lives such as moving people up from poverty to shared prosperity. Therein exactly lies the secret, rule and purpose of governance. At the heart of this is promoting a robust market and asset management modified only by market regulations that catalyze but protect”, he stated.
To highlight the gains that can be derived from tackling anti-competitive practices and reforming policies to enable competition, Irukera cited figures from the World Bank and other sources.
The CPC DG revealed that reducing the prices of food staples by just 10%, tackling cartels and improving regulations that limit competition in food markets could lift 500,000 people in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia out of poverty and save consumers more than $700 million a year.
However, Irukera identified a key challenge in the path of improved competition and regulation in Africa, noting that in more than 40% of African countries, a single operator holds over half the market share in telecommunications and transport sectors.
He said: “Economic performance is generally measured by spending and consumption index as a key indicator. Spending is usually considered a matter of disposable income. However, spending is as much a matter of satisfaction as it is of disposable income. Satisfaction is primarily about choice, price, quality and treatment. The rightly regulated market will provide satisfaction and encourage spending”.