UN urges good management of African resources for economic growth


African governments must ensure transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources, including oil, to generate revenue for growth through diversifying economies, a United Nations official told delegates at an industrial policy conference in Ghana today.

“African leaders must have bold visions and good planning,” Kandeh K. Yumkella, the Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), told delegates attending the two-day conference in Accra entitled “Competitiveness and Diversification: Strategic Challenges in a Petroleum-Rich Economy.”

“Ambition is the catalyst that can propel African leaders to bring about structural changes and create wealth and opportunities for decent jobs on a sustainable basis, as well as the right infrastructure, and add value to natural resources,” said Mr. Yumkella.

He called for a bold development agenda in Africa in the next 20 years to restructure and diversify economies beyond dependence on oil and gas, to avoid the so-called “Dutch disease.”

The “Dutch disease” or the “resource curse” refers to increasing dependency on the exploitation of natural resources at the expense of developing a manufacturing sector.

Africa countries “must make sure the new wealth does not destroy the old one. Africa must develop manufacturing to become competitive on a global scale,” said Mr. Yumkella.

At a meeting with the President of Ghana, John Atta Mills, Mr. Yumkella urged the West African country to become “a model” for the sub-region. “A stable democracy coupled with the oil find could turn the country into an economic powerhouse,” he said.

Industrialization policy, he added, should include agribusiness and agro-industries as extra engines of economic growth.