NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – African countries have been urged to tap into their idle resources to spur economic growth.
In comments delivered at the opening ceremony of the Africa Governance and Leadership Convention on Monday, President Mwai Kibaki noted that Africa had a lot of unused resources that could benefit the continent if effectively utilised.
He challenged African leaders to design proper policies and systems that will curb the scramble for Africa’s resources, both human and natural, to enhance sustainable growth.
“It is time for Africa. We have to stop singing the stereotypes and start implementing actual pragmatic steps that will make a difference in the development of the continent in whichever way we ascribe to,” he said in remarks delivered on his behalf by Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno.
Otieno also called on fellow African leaders to invest in their youth so as to create a skilled labour force that will give Africa competitive advantage.
“Despite remarkable trends in economic growth, one of the main challenges that African countries now face is that of inadequate job creation for our school leavers,” he observed and noted that 70 percent of Africa’s population was under the age of 30 with the bulk being jobless further emphasising the need to create jobs.
He cited the Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund and the National Youth Service as some Kenyan programmes that had been set up for youths.
“In the short run the young population calls for the commitment of considerable resources in education, health, training in modern skills and capital investment in the rapid expansion of facilities to undertake these responsibilities,” he said.
President Kibaki also highlighted the need to facilitate peace and security in African countries that were experiencing instability.
“We need to pay attention to the need for peace in countries where peace has remained elusive,” he urged.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, on his part, observed that many African countries were off their Millennium Development Goals targets.
He noted that plans to reduce child mortality and maternal death as well as increase access to education were off track.
He added that Africa continued witnessing a population growth spurt that required proper planning to sustain the increasing numbers.
“The demographic bulge as it exists is a time bomb if adequate and right investments are not made in education, skill acquisition and job creation. Young people’s vibrant and energetic abilities must be capacitated and channelled into positive activities,” he argued.
Obasanjo also observed the need to improve Africa’s leadership saying they must address security issues as well as promote gender equality.
“We need a third liberation to make it happen fast; a liberation of our hearts, our heads, our hands and our minds to unleash the power that God has given Africa to be great,” he said.
The convention brings together various heads in the business and political fronts from various parts of the continent.