The health crisis has shown the need for Africa to define a new economic model to replace the colonial one which has as its goal the development of the metropolis. TRANSFORM’ACTION is an economic model that the continent could experiment.
By Alioune GUEYE*
The Covid-19 crisis has revealed once again that the world we live in is more than ever “VUCA” Vulnerable, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous. But to put this crisis back in the “long term”, COVID 19 only revealed the continent’s vulnerabilities and showed the obsolescence of a colonial economic model in which all the infrastructures and land use planning were organized to extract resources in order to transport them to the Metropolis.
A legion of service platforms
A second striking feature, although invisible to the naked eye, is the explosion of the platforms. No sector of activity has escaped this revolution. From agriculture to communication, from energy to transport passing by health… During this period of global containment, these platforms have made it possible to continue to telework, to talk to each other, and even to optimize the supply of goods and services. Today more than ever, this pandemic must encourage us to move from the logic of trading posts to that of ecosystems and from the extraction of natural resources to the structural transformation of our raw materials. This is why it is important to promote a new economic model: TRANSFORM’ACTION.
Transformation must be dynamic
I deliberately add the “C”, since transformation appears as a frozen photograph, whereas it is the dynamics of the film that is sought after! I use the metaphor of the three-stage rocket a lot to illustrate this concept: when there is no collective performance, in other words collective intelligence, the rocket doesn’t take off. However, this collective performance is only possible if it is backed by a team performance which, in turn, is supported by individual performances. There are no successful teams without outstanding individuals. Likewise, there is no collective performance without outstanding teams.
TRANSFORM’ACTION also involves the emergence of successful companies. In Africa, we are sorely lacking them. To make them, we need to create high-performance ecosystems that allow high-potential companies to grow and become champions in their turn.
Challenges remain the same
Once again, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of African countries in particular, but the stakes of “long time” remain the same. They are energy, regional infrastructure, financial and military challenges, but also agricultural and digital challenges. Faced with this, what can the Africa we want to see look like? That Africa, we want!
Achieving the Africa we want
The first point is to revisit our African vision of development by going beyond slogans and inventing a new narrative of the continent.
The second point involves identifying the actors capable of making this TRANSFORM’ACTION a success, the TRANSFORM’ACTORS. We have to make do with a mediocre political staff over the next ten years at least in the majority of African countries. There is an abysmal vacuum, a major gap, in terms of regalian leadership. This should encourage us to develop schools that train leadership to build strong institutions, not just strong individuals. These agents of change will ultimately be found among young people, women, diaspora and the private sector, of course.
Consuming African made and forging new partnerships
In terms of actions, more and more, it is necessary to substitute partnership for aid, and at the same time to promote “Made in Africa”, by producing what we consume and consuming what we produce. It is necessary to know how to vary our partners and go beyond traditional partners. It is possible to trade with new ones and keep cordial relations with those of yesterday. China, Turkey, India… are interesting partners, all the more so as their economic emergence is recent and therefore easier to “transpose”.
Learn from the success of other countries that have also gone through the same process.
In addition, we would benefit from benchmarking Asia by looking at the key factors that have made it successful. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and China have emerged in less than a generation…
For example, the emergence of economic zones has played a key role in their development. As we now know, any serious industrial policy now includes the establishment of ecosystems that bring stakeholders together to multiply synergies and learning effects, not forgetting network economies.
Activating movement of « From brain drain to brain gain »
A dynamic diaspora is also an indispensable asset of these countries, which, in addition to the financial transfers made, brings an expertise in research and development that is indispensable to their countries of origin. We could considerably slow down the brain drain by setting up a “From Brain drain to brain gain” return movement that would enable us to take advantage of our technopreneurs, in particular. Not forgetting the financial manna corresponding to migrant remittances that can be transformed into productive investments through “diaspora bond” vehicles, for example, as has been done in the Philippines.
Protecting our young companies and opting for a leadership democracy
At the same time, we need to adopt protective measures for an industry that is in its infancy, in childhood for many. World Trade Organization safeguards, but also standards and norms that we ourselves have set will help us greatly in this regard.
Finally, we must opt for forms of democracy that are a skillful blend of freedoms and strong leadership, which are essential for a return to civic-mindedness and accountability.
It is this TRANSFORM’ACTION that we want to succeed.
*Alioune GUEYE is PhD and CEO of HUB AFRICA
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