By Kunle Aderinokun in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said it is taking a long time to crush Boko Haram members because the military, which he alleged had high ranking officers who are corrupt, was also not equipped to deal with terrorists.
Obasanjo spoke on Tuesday night in a panel discussion on ‘Development and Security: Dealing with New Threats’ at the ongoing 2015 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
He, however, expressed confidence that the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari will deal with the Boko Haram insurgency decisively.
Obasanjo was quick to add that Boko Haram will not be dealt with using the military alone but the government also has to resolve the issues of underdevelopment and poverty ravaging most part of the Northern region.
According to him, “The military was not adequately equipped to deal with terrorism and there was corruption in the high ranks of the military. I believe Boko Haram will be dealt but it will not be dealt with only by military force because we have to deal with the big problems of underdevelopment and poverty. But if you don’t do that and you keep on hanging those problems, they will be suppressed for a while and it will be a matter of years, then you will begin to have Boko Haram in one form or the other rearing its ugly head again.”
Also speaking, Chairperson, African Union, Mrs. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stated that there was an urgent need to address the issues of underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty across Africa.
She pointed out that with the level of unemployment in the continent, it is fast becoming explosive.
According to her, “Africa is full of young people. If we don’t invest in them, we’re sting on a time-bomb.”
Pointing out that, as it currently stands, countries and regions are tackling the issue of terrorism individually, Dlamini-Zuma called on governments to come together as one and solve the issue in a more holistic manner.
Earlier, at the opening ceremony, the outgoing AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, stated that over the last 10 years, the bank had committed $28 billion to infrastructure, of which $11 billion was dedicated to energy, $11 billion for transport, $4 billion for water and $2 billion for information and communications technology.
While saying those were significant amounts that almost double what the bank had done in the previous 40 years, in terms of Africa’s needs, he however lamented that the gap remained large.
Given this scenario, Kaberuka noted that “going forward, two things would be pivotal: Innovation: getting project ready and de-risking them to attract additional private capital, and further deregulation in the energy sector; including reform of energy subsidies, strengthening the balance sheets of the national off-takers and truly independent regulators.”
He expressed confidence that the bank would take the lead in infrastructure, to show that Africa is ready for business.
The outgoing president paid glowing tributes to the founding fathers and staff of the organisation in its 50 years.
He said he had been able to learn a lot in the 10 years that he served as President of the Bank, noting that the bank’s return to Côte d’Ivoire from Tunisia in September 2014 should not be seen as a celebration, but a solemn event, and a time to scan the future.
Citing Nelson Mandela, he said: “After climbing a hill, one finds that there are many more higher hills to climb.”
Meanwhile, the 2015 Africa economic outlook has predicted that the continent’s economies would record robust growth in 2015 expanding by 4.5 per cent in 2015, and may reach 5 per cent in 2016, compared to 3.9 per cent registered in 2014 and 3.3 per cent globally.
This, the outlook noted, signaled robust growth despite ongoing global and regional headwinds, including depressed commodity prices and the lagged impact of the Ebola epidemic.
Falling global oil prices are also expected to support growth among net oil importers by boosting consumer demand and competitiveness and mitigating inflationary pressures.
Moreover, the report themed: ‘Regional Development and Spatial Inclusion’ showed that most African economies now boasts of much greater economic diversification – with a shift in the African economy, with agriculture, construction and services playing a bigger role than before.
This overall positive outlook is, however, overshadowed by the spillover effects of the deadly Ebola disease outbreak in West Africa, which have dampened the region’s prospects in the tourism, service and aviation sectors due to the perceived risk to exposure.
This is in addition to depressed commodity prices and uncertain global conditions, the consequences of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as well as domestic political uncertainties that could delay an expected return to pre-2008 levels of growth.
“African countries have shown considerable resilience in the face of global economic diversity. For future growth to be sustainable and transformative will require that its benefits are shared more equitably among the population and that governments continue to pursue policies that promote economic stability.”
Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President of AfDB, Steve Kayizzi Mugerwa, said.
The report is a joint publication by African Development Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
According to the report, total foreign investment in the continent is expected to reach $73.5 billion in 2015, targeting consumer markets in large urban centres.
Remittances from Africa’s diaspora have increased six-fold since 2000 and will reach $64.6 billion by the end of 2015. African sovereign borrowing, on the other hand, is rising rapidly, indicating increasing investor confidence, the report shows.
However, it cautioned that this new source of financing must be accompanied by macroeconomic prudence to ensure that sustainable debt levels are maintained.
Human development in Africa is improving, although indicators show that poverty remains widespread in both low- and middle-income countries.
“Inclusive and sustainable growth is a fundamental aspect of Africa’s post-2015 development agenda for economic and social transformation,” said Chief
Economist and Head of the Strategy and Analysis Team at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ayodele Odusola.
He added: “We need to invest in building economic opportunities, including at the local level. And especially those of young women and men who are the architects of tomorrow’s Africa.”
The report showed that economic gains had been uneven across regions and within countries and, despite high growth rates, are vulnerable to setbacks from health, environmental and social risks.
Specifically, the report showed that the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease had a severe impact on the populations and economies of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and their neighbours in West Africa, with the fight of these countries exacerbated by the uneven international response.
It underscored that the Ebola epidemic highlighted the inadequacy of social service delivery in many African countries, especially health services, and the fragility of institutional structures.
“An important lesson is that the enhancement of equity, social protection and timely responses to domestic disasters cannot be accomplished without strong and accountable domestic institutions,” the report also stated.
Although the level of social tensions and violence receded in 2014 in many parts of Africa, the consequences of war are still evident, with lingering conflicts in the Central African Republic, Libya, Nigeria and South Sudan. The impact on populations and livelihoods has been severe.
“There is an obvious and urgent need to foster more inclusive growth and broader political participation to reduce the deprivation that tends to stoke rebellions and conflicts,” the report said.
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