Mr. Akwasi Opong-Fosu – Former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development
A former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr. Akwasi Opong-Fosu, urged African countries to leverage their natural resources for infrastructure and technology development.
He said the age-old concept of revenue from royalties and taxes on the exploitation of natural resources had not helped the cause of infrastructure development on the continent.
Mr Opong-Fosu, who launched the call at the 2021 UK-Africa Trade and Investment Conference in London, said the continent’s annual infrastructure needs of about 108 billion dollars could be satisfied if the “natural resources for infrastructure” strategy were adopted alongside the fight against illegal financing. flows.
The theme of the conference was: “Enhancing UK-Africa Trade, Investment Relations and Boosting Business Value Chains. “
Mr. Opong-Fosu, who is also a former Minister of Environment, Science and Technology and former Minister of State for the Presidency, was invited to speak at the conference in his capacity as President of the ‘Africa Growth Solutions, African Policy, Research and Advocacy Organization committed to promoting Africa’s global competitiveness, especially in trade and investment.
Speaking on the topic “Potential for economic growth in Africa: challenges and opportunities”, the former minister said that for any renewed interest in Africa to be genuine and beneficial to the people, infrastructure was essential.
All of this, he said, required visionary leaders.
Opong-Fosu said China’s new model of economic partnership with Africa – natural resources for infrastructure – was a better option for the current payment of royalties and taxes.
Explaining, Opong-Fosu said this involved African countries donating natural resources for bilateral infrastructure deals with no associated conditionalities.
“Compared with existing agreements with long-standing development partners on the continent which are based on the payment of royalties and taxes, this model is now considered more favorable to Africa,” he said. .
Mr. Opong-Fosu, however, noted the main concerns raised, mainly by Africa’s other development partners, with regard to the Chinese model, including China’s attempts to recolonize Africa in order to gain access to its natural resources, and push Africa back into the debt trap of the 1970s and 1980s.
“However, doubts have been cast on these claims on the grounds that development partners have a long history of exploiting natural resources in Africa with little to show through significant contributions to the infrastructure of continents and to global development. , as we see now in the context of the Chinese model, ”he said.
Mr. Opong-Fosu said the African Continental Free Trade Area promises new hope for the development of the continent.
He urged African countries to critically examine the reasons for the renewed and increased interest in trade and investment in Africa by developed countries, especially the UK and what promise this renewed interest in the program of Africa’s economic growth and transformation.
In addition, African leaders should consider what new partnerships and fair trade agreements will be introduced to integrate Africa into the global trade and investment value chain.
Asking the question: “What should be the priorities for UK-Africa economic relations / partnerships, the former minister said:” It is suggested that in order to show serious commitment to Africa’s development, partners and urgently develop a “Marshall Plan” along the lines that were developed for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II.
“Just as it was done for Europe, such a plan should be devoid of preconditions,” he said.