By: Waheed Ogunjobi
Perhaps, it is an irony that Africa is both a blessing and burden to the world. Africa sure has its shortcomings, but it is not all that gloomy as it were given recent available statistics. Africa is expected to see a recovery in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth from its present 3.0 per cent to 3.5 per cent in 2018. Africa’s GDP will further grow to 3.7 per cent in 2019, according to the 2018 edition of the World Economic Situation and Prospects report (WESP2018.
Conversely, Africa with the staggering statistics of migrants to other parts of the world is no doubt a burden to the world. A larger percentage of migrant crisis and conflicts between nations of the world is partly causes by Africa and other regions of the world that are yet to find a lasting solution to their burgeoning population vis-à-vis economic prosperity.
But, why the large-scale exodus of people?
The factors pushing people to leave sub-Saharan Africa – and the paths they take to arrive at their destinations – vary from country to country and individual to individual
The most disturbing part of the whole scenario is that this modern day migration similar to the slave trade era when our forefathers were ferried as labourers in a plantation field is on a voluntary level and it is more or less appearing that many people are going on a land of no return .
The notoriety of the slave route in Libya where thousands of Africans are taking to pass through the Mediterranean Sea as well as the horrendous loss of human lives on that route is better imagined than felt.
Giving the huge loss of lives that now characterized the migration crisis, it behooves on all the stakeholders to come up with a better way of upturning the push factor which is the promise of economic prosperity that made people to be so desperate to cross to the land of no return.
The bottoms line however is that Africa which is the world’s second largest and second most populous continent with the population of over 1.3 billion as at June 2019, which is equivalent to 16.64% of the world population has what it takes to feed her population and perhaps the rest of the world, especially with its around 600 million uncultivated arable land or roughly 60% of global total.
As a matter of fact, agriculture and food production especially through the value chains exploration still holds the key to economic prosperity of the African continent . To say the least, Africa’s huge population is the reason bigger manufacturing countries of the world such as China , Us , Germany India, South Korea and United kingdom are scrambling to take advantage of the African large market.
A 2019 Nigeria Consumer report by Coronation Merchant Bank tagged ‘’ Power to the price point ‘’ for instance is very instructive on how Africa can turn her agricultural potentials and huge population for prosperity through the empowerment of small holder farmers as well as the promotion of the informal sector by boosting the SMEs.
The report which consciously studied the price movement of quoted food and home personal care companies relying on the data that with Nigeria’s population increase of 4.6% per annum such companies ought to enjoy steady growth, but the reverse was the case.
Coronation Merchant Bank which set up a model household on an average salary of N 35,000-N40,000 typical of what is being paid to tens of thousands of Nigeria and sent them for shopping found out that the model household members came back with packaged products that are not listed with reasonable price differential to the bigger and perhaps global brands being promoted by the economically prosperous nations, which means Nigerians are beginning to consume locally produced goods designed to rival the big brands which are listed.
The result of this research is sending a strong signal to African nations and its leaders that there is a new potential economic prosperity magic only if we take a closer scrutiny at it. A recent report from Kenya for instance indicated that multinational companies are leaving Kenya enmass. Most of them blamed the influx of cheap imports into the local market for their exit. The situation is similar in other African countries like Nigeria.
What then should African leaders do in the light of the Coronation merchant bank research of power to the price point? Although no countries of the world can exist in isolation in terms of trade. Africa mostly export our raw material such as crude to other parts of the world, but the bottom line is to concentrate importations on goods of technical and high technological nature that perhaps cannot be easily produced at home, instead of continuing to act as dumping ground for substandard importation.
Thus, instead of allowing the importation of cheap products from large manufacturing companies of the world like China to flood the market thereby stifling the growth of the multinationals in her economy, African continent and her leaders should rather promote the growth of emerging SMEs and agro processing companies which are on the rise. The main issue will then be to standardise.
It is believed that through this simple economic logic, Africa can be able to provide employment for her teeming population daring the odds daily by risking their lives to cross the deadly border.
Reports have it that Africa food market alone could create 1 trillion dollars opportunities by the year 2030 if we can expand their access to capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high value nutritious foods. Why then do we expose our citizens to danger in different parts of the world with this huge potential on our hands?
Already, some domestic African global brands are giving the big multinational companies of the world a run for their investments and gradually pushing them out of the market. Some of the local companies identified include South Africa based mobile telecommunications company, MTN, Kenyan FMCG manufacturer Bidco, Angolan beverage company Refriango, Moroccan bank, Dangote brand in Nigeria among others.
Waheed Ogunjobi, a Bloomberg trained Financial Journalist cum Public Affairs Analyst writes from Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital and can be reached on 08035004741, firstname.lastname@example.org