Africa has often been regarded as the sleeping giant, perhaps owing to its vast wealth and a growing pool of educated youth. Many distinguished scholars and economic experts are convinced that Africa has the potential to become an economic powerhouse in the world.
They are also in agreement about the notion that Africa needs more knowledge than financial support and mega infrastructural projects to realize growth.
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Like the saying goes, “knowledge is power”, most experts are certain that Africa continues remains under developed due to lack of the requisite knowledge to come up with realistic policies that can guarantee sustainable development.
While Africa boasts an abundance of top-class academics and intellectuals, it appears to be deficient in people with the right expertise to formulate workable fiscal policies.
As it stands, most African governments are focused on generating more revenue to support huge infrastructural projects as opposed to developing realistic financial strategies for long-term development.
Consequently, local and international debts continue to pile up, putting the African taxpayer under more financial pressure. Studies have shown that many African countries are using most of their revenues to offset overpriced foreign loans instead of investing in their citizens. Such misplaced priorities will certainly continue to have a bearing on the long-term prosperity of the continent.
Knowledge for Sustainable Development
The only way to address this setback is to broaden the “knowledge agenda” to cover issues about the way African governments formulate and implement their financial policies, and how they handle challenges that arise.
Governments must find better ways of translating their strategic development ideas into coherent fiscal strategies that address the pestering limits to growth.
Such knowledge will also help African leaders to strike a realistic balance between different priorities, including public investment projects and growth-promoting policies.
With the right information, governments will be able to implement reforms that can strengthen their abilities to plan and implement sustainable fiscal policies. There is also need for African governments to avoid unnecessary fiscal debits and public debts. Instead, they should learn how to allocate budgets to the development of human capital and public investment in infrastructures that offer “public goods and services”.
Any government that is worth its salt should have a special grasp of the best practices with reference to imposing taxes on a broader base without interfering with inducements to do business.
With regard to addressing food insecurity, one of the greatest challenges that have bedeviled Africa for a long time, African governments must work towards the development of reliable and effective human resource by building knowledge and sharing information. Farmers in rural Africa also need to learn how to incorporate the new farming technologies into their operations for improved outputs.
Although the academic literature offers an extensive guide on how these objectives can be achieved, its contribution to the formulation of sustainable financial policies is quite minimal. Firsthand experiences and practical knowledge are the ultimate keys to developing the right human skills and competences for sustainable development in Africa.