I was listening keenly to sessions at the 2nd NEPAD Africa Rural Development Forum holding at the Hilton Hotel Yaounde when one of the speakers, Prof Mandivamba Rukuni in discussing the blueprint set out towards reduction in rural poverty broke down Africa’s economic problem with the most apt analogy, saying:
When you walk into a Kentucky fried chicken to buy a piece of chicken, you are not necessarily buying chicken, you are buying a culture. Because your grandmother can make tastier, healthier chicken for less than a dollar. When Foreign Direct Investors come to China, the Chinese demand four things:
3. Quality jobs
But we Africans see FDI as just cash and nothing else. We receive it, spend it and wait for the next round of cash. He continued by emphasizing that rural transformation must be driven by the whole economy with a focus on expanding the domestic market which drives the economy. According to Prof. Rukuni, producing what you don’t depend on and depending on what you don’t produce is the surest way to poverty.
A UN 2015 report reveals that an estimated 60% of Africa’s 1.2 billion population live in rural areas with livelihoods based on what is largely subsistence farming yet the rural environment is marked by continuing stagnation in socio-economic progression with populations increasingly vulnerable in the face of social, economic and climate shocks. I It goes without saying therefore, that Africa’s fight against poverty will be won or lost in rural areas.
The old approaches to rural development don’t work and stakeholders – within the context of the Cotonou Declaration action points – developed ”A Blueprint To Implement Rural Development Policies In Africa” endorsed at the 2nd Africa Rural Development Forum as a vehicle for advancing rural transformation across Africa and accelerating pace towards the visions of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The Blueprint will support member states and regional players towards an integrated, cross-sectorial, and coherent set of actions based on local realities, priorities and a shared African vision and narrative.
The 2nd Africa Rural Development Forum held under the theme “Transforming Africa’s Rural Area through Skills Development, Job Creation and Youth Economic Empowerment.” It provided a platform for exchange and peer learning on experiences and insights in catalyzing and fostering job creation and skills development in rural based agri- and non-agri-systems as key components to advance rural development in Africa. The main objective of the conference was to review and share lessons on available tools for designing strategies for youth empowerment. At the close of the gathering, a Yaounde declaration and plan of action was adopted.
Prof Rukuni concluded his remarks by observing that Africans will certainly not beat the Chinese at being Chinese or beat the Americans at being American but Africans can beat them at being African. He said Africans have been concentrating too much on material poverty yet capital resides in the intellectual level. Africa’s poverty is not material, Africa’s poverty is intellectual.
Management Consultant. Digital Media Strategist. Multipotentialite. Humanitarian Ventures Champion. Lead Digital Strategist for the Muhammadu Buhari Presidential Campaign 2015.