In August 2011, late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi went to Beijing, advised by the chief economist at the World Bank about the rising wages and pending relocation of the Chinese shoe industry to low-income countries. Zenawi’s mission? Bring a factory back to Ethiopia. Other African countries can learn from the trip’s success, above all the need for leadership at the highest levels to make projects happen.
Mozambique’s progress of economic transformation has been encouraging. It ranked 16th (out of comparator 21 African countries) in 2000 and improved to 11th in 2010, moving ahead of Ghana, Benin, Malawi, Tanzania and Benin. In spite of significant growth in per-capita income in the 2000s, Mozambique’s ranking on the human wellbeing index has fallen, from 15th among the 21 countries in 2000, to 16th in 2005, and 17th in 2010.
Agriculture has the potential to contribute greatly to economic transformation, just as it did earlier in many developed countries. It can increase incomes in rural areas. It can increase exports and the foreign exchange needed to import machinery and other inputs for industry. And it can expand the markets for inputs and consumption goods and services for the nonagricultural sectors.
The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) is an Accra-based economic policy institute supporting long-term growth with transformation of Africa’s economies. Founded by K.Y. Amoako, former Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, ACET has roughly 30 core staff from every sub-region of the continent, including Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, and Morocco. See more at acetforafrica.org.