Summit tasks African nations on competitiveness
By Timeyin Mammah
A summit, the FocusNationAfrica initiative, a monthly convocation to discuss issues of pan-African concern and celebrate African countries who gained their independence in the set month under focus, has risen in Lagos with a call on African people to ensure that they make their economies more competitive.
The event was a most engaging one where valuable knowledge about Africa was shared, the multifaceted problems plaguing it were highlighted and solutions proffered.
The March edition focused on Ghana, Tunisia, Mauritius, and Namibia.
Speaking at the event, which was convened by the Difference Newspaper at the CSS Bookshop Limited, CMS, Lagos, the Guest Speaker, Rev Juliet Binitie affirmed that one common thread that continues to inhibit the abilities of African nations to rise to the fore was their relatively low ranking on the Global Competitiveness Index, GCI.
Binitie made a detailed analysis of all the competitiveness scores of the four African countries in focus, while also pitching them alongside that of the continent’s largest economy, Nigeria.
According to her, Mauritius tops all others as about the best example of what could amount to a poster boy for competitiveness in the African continent but insisted that more work needs to be done all across the continent even as Mauritius performance was still a less than salutary one when placed with other higher achieving nations from other parts of the world.
Welcoming guests to the session, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, Managing Director of CSS Bookshops Limited observed that he had himself become quite fond of the #FocusNationAfrica events because he and his colleagues who had attended the earlier session held in December 2019 ‘had gone away better educated and enlightened.’
He equally affirmed that part of his and CSS’s other ‘attraction to, and interest in events of this nature stems from the fact that being a company that is engaged with the sourcing, production and marketing of intellectual capital, CSS Bookshops Limited shares basic affinity with a project like the #FocusNationAfrica series that analyses and interrogates the history and fortunes of our people in the mother continent.’ He then reiterated the commitment of CSS Bookshops Limited to continue to support the initiative, ‘as long as the object is the shared education and enlightenment of the people of Africa.’
On the prospects being expected with the imminent take-off of the actual activity stages of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA which is due to commence in the next few weeks. Oluwatuyi said that he was joining ‘with others in hoping that the coming on stream of South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa as Head of the AU Council of Heads of States and the appointment of a substantive Secretary General for the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra, would be most helpful overall.’
He however affirmed the point that ‘even beyond the work done by Heads of States and bureaucrats is my very clear understanding that for AfCFTA to succeed, it will need to massively involve an even wider array of activities and initiatives brokered by individual Africans, their businesses and their organizations and all geared towards giving AfCFTA the popular grassroots base and involvement that is all too critical.
“We see the FocusNationAfrica summits as a very good initiative in this regard and assure you once again that as a business, CSS Bookshops Limited is also going to continue to do all that it can to help AfCFTA succeed. We are more than persuaded: Africa needs AfCFTA,’ he asserted.
Also underscoring the reason for the event, publisher of The Difference Newspaper and convener of the series, Mr. Richard Mammah emphasized that it was borne out of the desire to regularly brainstorm on the challenges facing the people of Africa and seek solutions to them.
Other presentations at the session were made by Abdulmumini Adeku of Paedia Express, Oluwole Olusanya of Sterling Bank, Dr. Raphael James of CRIMMD (Ghana) and Kamil Balogun of the Okokomaiko Book Club.