Africa should look beyond managing poverty – Duarte


London, Mar. 16, GNA – If African countries are to bring the vicious cycle of poverty on the continent to an end, they should go beyond just managing it, the Finance and Planning Minister of Cape Verde, Cristina Duarte, has told the GNA.

She said that it was time for Africans to take ownership of the structural transformation that would ensure that the continent’s wealth benefited more people.

‘In the past 15 years, economic progress in Africa has been tremendous,’ said Ms. Duarte, who is running for the presidency of the African Development Bank (AfDB), which will be up for grabs at the end of May.

‘But the Africa rising scenario has not benefited everyone. High economic growth is not enough to end the vicious cycle of poverty in Africa.’    

Ms. Duarte said that in order to deal with the problem, there were other issues to bring to the table, such as women’s empowerment.

This, she told the GNA, should no longer be viewed as a policy option, adding that it was an imperative for economic development in Africa.

She acknowledged that in some African countries, such as Ghana, women were economically empowered. ‘We now need this all over Africa,’ Ms. Duarte said.

‘Africa should move beyond the micro-credit and micro-finance approach that keeps women down. They need to run bigger enterprises.

‘I am talking about a massive shift that will give African women property rights and better economic opportunities.’

Transforming the economic fortunes of Africa on a large scale is the linchpin of Ms. Duarte’s campaign for the AfDB’s top job.

She believes she has the credentials to make such a transformation, citing her successful reform of the economy of Cape Verde since she became finance and planning minister in 2006.

She would like to do the same for the whole continent. Her focus is on ensuring that institutions worked in Africa.

When the GNA put it to her that the major reason for economic weakness in Africa is because there is clearly more money outside the continent’s banking system than within, she quickly agreed.

‘We need to create wealth in Africa and ensure that it stays,’ Ms. Duarte said, adding that the reason why there was capital flight from Africa and its banking system was due to weak institutions.

‘Although Africa has evolved positively socio-economically in the last few years, the lack of quality among its institutions is a major constraint to structural transformation.

‘We need to live and plan for the future, and to do this we need to build high quality institutions,’ she explained.  

When the GNA mentioned the spectacular collapse of Nigerian banks a few years ago, Ms. Duarte said that it was a clear example of how an institution that was responsible for regulating the banks – the Central Bank of Nigeria – failed in its duty.

She however acknowledged that new leaders in Africa were now paying attention to the institutional side of development.

Ms. Duarte, 52, has had 30 years’ experience in both the private sector and government, and before she became minister she was director of a reform programme on private sector development and competitiveness.

As minister of finance and planning, she was in charge of Cape Verde’s economy when in 2013 the country won the All-Africa Public Sector Innovation Award. The success was based on solid budget management that allowed for full accountability and transparency.

Ms. Duarte is seen as a strong reformer, which has led to improved economic governance and regulation in Cape Verde

It is these qualities that she hopes to bring to the AfDB, telling the GNA she wants the development bank to ‘adopt a collaborative and complementary approach toward commercial banks and regional organisations in Africa’.

She added: ‘We need to involve the private sector more and have clear rules that will ensure that more financing is available to the private sector.’

Ms. Duarte, who was on a whirlwind campaign visit to London and Brussels last week, is the only woman among the eight candidates vying to replace Donald Kaberuka from Rwanda as AfDB president, who will end his   mandatory two five-year terms in September.

The election for the new president will be held during the bank’s 50th annual board meeting in Abidjan from May 25 to 29.

GNA


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