How Africa can develop – Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday identified human capital development, political stability and economic integration as central to the rapid development of Africa and the emancipation of its people from poverty.
Osinbajo said this in Ndola, Zambia, at the inauguration of the $420 million cement plant and 30 KV coal-powered station built by Nigeria’s foremost businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
The vice president said that the continent needed to free itself from issues that impoverished the people and begin to use its resources to develop the continent.
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“One of the key challenges to rapid growth in Africa is extreme poverty; Africa unfortunately remains the poorest continent in the world; the implications are illiteracy, poor health, and low income per capita.
“Consequently, despite our large population our markets are not deep; most cannot afford goods and services; this is a cross-cutting Africa problem but the only solution is substantially investing in human capacity development.
“We simply must spend money on the people; we must spend more on education, technology and healthcare; we must invest in technology, infrastructure to enable our bright boys and girls to hone their skills in the competitive world of technology.
“We must provide benefit for the disabled poor, the elderly poor and otherwise vulnerable; we cannot afford to leave any one behind.“
The vice president also stressed the need for the integration of African economies and cooperation between member countries.
He said: “With 54 countries and well over a billion people, and the economic bloc cooperating through enabling trade agreements, collaborative tariff regimes, multilateral trade concessions and agreements will open up the fastest growing economy in the world.“
He said that intra-African trade was low at the moment with and identified Europe, America and Asia as the continent’s strongest allies.
Osinbajo added that Africa must challenge its policy intellectuals, entrepreneurs and politicians to think through what seemed to be the most logical course of action.
He identified “neighbor principle“, a legal jargon, as one that could ensure that the continent derived maximum benefits from proximity and affinities.
“Enough has been said about Africa Economic integration, it is time to act,“ he stated.
The vice president hailed “the wind of democracy blowing across the continent“ as one that could ensure stability.
He said that a big correlation existed between development and the stability engendered by free choice of leadership.
“The rule of law, protection of the right to private property and respect for the sanctity of contract are institutional pillars of liberal democracies that today guarantee an environment where commerce, industry and professional practice can thrive and bring the much needed jobs to millions of our people,“ he said.
Osinbajo thanked the Zambian government for providing the environment that would enable Africans to invest in Zambia.
“Mr President, your foresight in approving this project and facilitating its development is commendable indeed and it exemplifies the kind of African leadership that out continent today needs very badly.
“Leadership that understands that a private sector-led economy working collaboratively with a knowledgeable bureaucracy is the way of the future.“
In his address President Edgar Lungu of Zambia congratulated Dangote Group for its courage to invest in his country and for being the most diversified African investor.
He said that his administration would expand trade and investment relations with Nigeria, and called on other Nigerian companies to emulate Dangote Group by investing in his country as his administration was poised to providing investment incentives.
Lungu said that with the massive construction works going on in the country, the demand for cement had risen, thereby leading the new cement plant to reduce the high cost of the commodity due to the massive production of cement it had to embark on.
Aliko Dangote, in his address said that the project, the sixth integrated plant commissioned outside Nigeria, was in furtherance of the company’s plan to invest massively in Africa bearing in mind the impact it would have on Africans.
According to him, the group will in a few days inaugurate 400 trucks to be used in transporting the cement that will be produced.
He added that the use of the trucks would create thousands of jobs.
Dangote announced plans by the group to create 16 cement plants across Africa to produce at least 80 million tons of cement and address the infrastructure needs of the continent, half of which would be produced in Nigeria.
He said that the company had set aside $500,000 to support community development in Ndola and that plans were on to immediately set up schools, hospitals, and scholarships for the host community as part of its corporate social responsibility.
Earlier, Osinbajo paid a courtesy visit to the Zambian President and his deputy, Inonge Wina, at the Zambia State House in Lusaka, where he expressed President Muhammadu Buhari’s satisfaction with Nigerian investments in Zambia and what they meant for future cooperation.
He noted that investments of Africans in Africa were welcome gestures that the environment would be free and expressed the hope that Africans would have no reason to clamour for disintegration.
He thanked the Zambian President for leading a delegation to Abuja when Nigeria celebrated its centenary in 2014.
Lungu had said during the visit, that there was room for further collaboration among African countries in trade and commerce and less reliance on other continents.
The Nigerian High commissioner in Zambia, Amb. Sifawu Momoh, Gov. Adams Oshiomhole and Chef Femi Otedola were among top Nigerian officials and business men in the Vice President’s entourage.