African Leaders Demand Manufacturing and Infrastructure

The World Bank’s International Development Association was hit with more criticism than it reckoned at the forum for African heads of state it organized April 29 in Nairobi, Kenya. The announced focus was on favorable lending terms and strategies to bolster sustainable development and promote foreign investment, but a number of participants disagree with the approach imposed by the West.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in particular, accused the World Bank of prioritizing loans for “seminars”, instead of helping poor African countries achieve real economic development. “So if you are serious, I need to hear about the low-cost funding for manufacturing, not for stories … for manufacturing. The main reason there is no growth in Africa is that the growth factors are neither funded nor understood; those who want to help Africa should fund our transport systems, electricity, raw material processing, and import substitution.” Why, he asked, is Africa “producing what it does not consume and consuming what it does not produce”.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called on the IDA to focus on providing concessional loans to free countries from debt, including “50-year credit loans”. Her call for long-term credits is significant, as her government is implementing a very ambitious infrastructure-driven economic policy. Tanzania has just completed the ninth-largest hydroelectric project in the world, the Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Power project, along with a standard-gauge railway, and other projects.

President Akufo-Addo of Ghana also welcomed greater concessional financing for Africa from the IDA, but noted that a deeper challenge for the continent than the scarcity of financing, involves overcoming a global economic system that has failed to allocate sufficient long-term resources to support Africa’s economic transformation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email