Reflections on the GDP growth / quality of life paradox in Africa.
I’m attending the TEDxEuston Salon on the 6th April, and I have no doubt it will be an opportunity to share ideas on the quality of life paradox in Africa. IMF forecasts indicate African countries will be seven of the top ten growing economies in the next five years.
That said, Africa posts only two entries in the top 100 countries’ quality of life assessment by Numbeo in 2012. In truth, Africa’s economic growth is accompanied by unequal wealth distribution, natural resource depletion, unemployment, insecurity and lack of infrastructure.
So what tool can be used to translate the continent’s economic growth into enhanced quality of life for its over 680 million inhabitants and indeed, the African Diaspora? My belief is that ‘local content’ development can help. An example of this is a program I’m involved with, along with UK Trade & Investment, which aims at fostering partnerships between Nigerian and UK companies.
Let me use the story of a young Nigerian I met recently through the program to illustrate my point. Evans left Nigeria for the UK about 13 years ago due to unemployment and dearth of opportunity. Whilst in the UK, he acquired his Masters and Doctorate degrees and subsequently secured a good job with one of the international oil and gas service companies in Aberdeen. Last year one of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria experienced an equipment failure. The equipment had to be shipped to Aberdeen for repair. It ended up being Evans who fixed it. Of course, the cost of this included freight and labour amounts which would have been avoided if the work if the work had been done locally.
How much better would it be if skills gained by individuals like Evans could be harnessed to create opportunities that indigenous companies can then venture into? It would be great to have a conversation on possibilities for translating the continent’s economic growth into better quality of life.