Harbel, Margibi County - Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Hon. Samuel D. Tweah Jr., says sustainability in Africa’s agriculture sector is critical for economic growth and development. He said huge investment in agriculture and infrastructure are cardinal in sustaining economic growth.
Minister Tweah was speaking at the ongoing 22nd session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts of West Africa in Robertsfield, Liberia, on Wednesday May 8, 2019. He told the gathering commodities prices would rise and fall, so it is important for economies in Africa to focus on agriculture, manufacturing and value addition for growth to be sustained.
He believes that investment in the agriculture sector of Africa is another way by which nations can provide jobs for its growing population. He urged multilateral partners and banking institutions across Africa to lend finances into the agriculture sector.
“Everything that people eat is grown, so returning to the agriculture sector should be prioritized. So let lend money into the sector and give more time to the farmers to pay back. Partners give money to countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone to pay back in five years, but don’t do that for the farmers,” he added.
Also, he said that road infrastructure is one of the areas that has huge gap in Africa, and the gap is due to limited access to resources.
The Finance Minister explained that other infrastructures including, electricity, and mobile communication have to change in Africa. He challenged leaders to invest in electricity and human capacity development for Africans.
“We have children who are memorizing boring subjects that will not matter for them in their livelihood or in their job arena for 12 years, and this has to change. We need to change the curriculum because we cannot have students in this current century using 1960 curriculum. The quality of teachers and what they are teaching have to change,” says Minister Tweah.
On the single currency regime for ECOWAS, Minister Tweah said “West Africa has been talking about a common currency for a time now, and I want to say, let this deliberation challenged West African governments to move towards a common currency within two to three years”.
He encouraged countries to accelerate the conversation on integration, and to change the narrative for economic growth.
Furthermore, Tweah said the decline in Africa’s growth is due to “high level of commodity crisis” which he wants addressed speedily.
For his part, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Director for Sub-Regional Office in West Africa Bakary Dosso said progress in the sub region is relatively weak at the social level.
“To just give example, in two countries of our sub region, more than 1,000 women die giving birth based on 100,000 live births. Comparing this figure to the global level of 200, we can easily measure the challenge to meet this health-related SDG,” Dosso declared.
Director Dosso said improving the quality of education in Africa is necessary because students were leaving schools without acquiring the minimum skills required.
He added that the risk posed by climate change on Africa was affecting economic and social performance of the region.
Meanwhile Dosso cautioned that West Africa is warming faster than the world with additional level 3.88 degree C per century against a global average of 2.2 degree every 100 years, emphasizing the need to prioritize protecting the continent’s environment.
He told the gathering that addressing investment and climate issues were important to sustaining economic growth as well.