By Amin Kef Sesay
With increased gross domestic productivity and a focus on improved export capacity, ours will continue to be a beggar economy. So says Central Bank Governor, Professor Kelfala Kallon.
In that direction, the country still faces a myriad of challenges that hold back its potential, especially efforts aimed at improving business environment and alleviating poverty to ensure sustainable economic growth.
Supportive policies and infrastructure that promote entrepreneurship and trade will play a critical role in helping the country rise from the ‘ashes’ to achieve the renaissance dreams proclaimed by President Bio.
Infrastructures, including transport, power and information and communication technologies (ICTs) facilities, are instrumental in supporting growth in the global economy. That’s the reason why we must prioritize infrastructure development to ensure sustainable economic growth.
“The only way we can increase its production and strengthen its economy is by investing heavily in infrastructure development to support the production and ease access to markets and encourage intra-regional trade.
Therefore, Government must invest more in the energy, ICT and transport sectors because these are enablers of trade and development.
Without enough power, the country’s production capacity will be affected, condemning the continent to rely on European and Chinese imports.
Transport and ICT sector are essential to ensure access to markets by farmers and the industrial sector.
The SME sector is the backbone of Africa’s economies, employing the majority of the continent’s youth and supporting millions of households.
With the majority of the country’s enterprises falling in the category of small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs), experts call on Government to put in place policies and regulations that propel them further and help make them sustainable.
The World Bank attributed more than half of impressive growth recorded in Africa to infrastructure development on the continent because it offered many countries the required stimulus for growth.
According to AU statistics, improving infrastructures, like roads, energy and ICTs, can add up to 2 per cent to GDP growth rate per year and also increase productivity by 40 per cent.
Putting in place right infrastructure is key driver for socio-economic development. Improving transport networks and access to reliable energy and ICTs will reduce the cost of operations and ensure efficient production and service delivery.
For instance, development of an efficient regional railway transport system would cut the cost of export/import by almost half and reduce the transit significantly. This would open up new opportunities for export and increase regional trade.
The challenge of poor infrastructure and cumbersome border policies must be addressed for intra-country and intra-region trade to flourish.
In addition, access to affordable and efficient energy for local industry is essential to grow the sector which is still almost dormant.
Lack of efficient infrastructure facilities and skilled human resource has led to high costs of investment, while private investments remain low compared to the expectations of developing countries.
As a result, development and operation costs remain high.
To address these issues, Government must put in place an investor-supportive investment policy as well as create an enabling environment, as well as promote public-private partnerships, especially for key projects and export-oriented investments.
In addition, in building the country’s much needed critical human capital, technical and vocational education must been given priority to bridge the skills gap in the industrial and other sectors.
Government must also encourage local content development at all levels, including human resources, local materials, local partnership or sub-contracting.