Empowering African Businesses

DEGRP, AERC push for inclusive economy in Africa

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Low income countries have experienced substantial economic growth in the last decades and now agricultural stakeholders are advocating for innovation to further boost the dependent sector.

In a bid to adopt inclusive growth in these economies, the DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme (DEGRP) and the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) have brought together business government and research stakeholders from Africa and Asia to explore opportunities in attaining inclusivity in Africa.

The conference dubbed ‘Economic Opportunities for a Better Future’ seeks to discuss how they can leverage agriculture, financial sector development and innovation to build a better economic opportunities for all.

In many low-income countries across Africa and Asia, employment opportunities are scarce, absolute poverty has increased, and economies continue to be vulnerable to financial shocks.

According to a report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African middle class has tripled over the past three decades to more than 34 per cent of the continents population.

However, the poverty rate still remains high with an estimated 63 million people in Africa still living in absolute poverty, according to a 2015 World Bank report.

Also read: Mobile services contribute over $150b to African economy

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“In Africa today, discourse is shifting beyond the growth renaissance realized in the region lately, to that of inclusive growth that is sustainable.

The growth sectors we are looking at are wide-ranging, and can easily comprise the youth, women, small farmers, small firms, and small entrepreneurs. Research shows that in low-income countries, there are serious financial and other development gaps that impede inclusive growth,” says Prof. Lemma W. Senbet, AERC Executive Director

“DEGRP research explains what is happening, and it also offers fresh insights into how to promote economic opportunities for all,” asserts Dirk Willem te Velde, Finance and Innovation research lead for DEGRP programme.

Dirk added that productivity in low-income countries has begun to grow faster over the last decade and that innovation is happening in unexpected corners, often under the radar screen.

“In a bid to make this a reality for the many, however, we need to work on global competition and collaboration; development of appropriate national innovation systems and industrial policies; avoidance of financial crises; appropriate banking standards; better links between finance and the real economy; training and female empowerment; and combinations of asset transfer, information and training,” he says.

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