Africa should walk the talk: Suzman

by Trust Matsilele 0

"Enabling growth that brings along the [poor] will be Africa’s next growth challenge," Mark Suzman told CNBC Africa.

Suzman, president of global policy and advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation noted with concern the isolation of women in Africa’s growth story.

“There are a number of areas where real progress has been happening both in Nigeria and across Africa. We are trying to take some of those examples in areas we are doing some work in like health and agriculture and ensure that these examples work for the poorest,” he said.

“The reality is that African governments made promises to commit 15 per cent of their budgets to health issues, by and large that has not happened although there has been some increases with 27 countries having increased in health.”

Suzman urged African economies to bridge the gender gap when it comes to sharing in the continent’s growth.

“Across Africa one of the sectors where that’s most apparent is in agriculture which is still an economic mainstay for large parts of Africa. Countries that have majority of rural population see women doing most of the work on farms, unfortunately many of these are the poorest household.”

“The key is target directly with training, with resources and with access to right seeds and markets, areas that we are working on as these are the key economic levers of helping women help themselves.”

(READ MORE: WEF Africa to address quality of African growth)

He expressed concern noting that, the overall investment in these areas (health and agriculture among others) is not what it should be and called for effective delivery to ensure that those who need the resources the most get them.

The African Union declared 2014 as the year of agriculture and food security, an area which has received relative neglect in recent years.

Suzman notes that Africa should utilise its competitive advantage which among others include its unused arable lands and ability to establish domestic and international markets.