08 September 2015, Lagos – Africa’s quest to achieve regional integration and sustainable growth may be elusive unless its leaders show commitment to resolving structural issues on the continent, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Nigeria Plc, Mr. Jibril Aku, has said.
He noted that if Africa would realise its full potential, the onus was on the continent to change its poor trade relations with the rest of the world.
Aku stated this while delivering a paper at the Hallmark Newspaper Public Policy Forum held in Lagos.
He spoke on the topic ‘Regional integration and sustainable economic development.’
The Ecobank CEO said, “As seen from the European Union example, the road to economic, social and political integration of regions is a hard one and long journey. Nations tend to be torn apart between economic efficiency, social mobility and political balance of an integrated union.
“The African continent has been blessed with natural resources but its development and growth have been hobbled by poor leadership characterised by weak or non-existent vision. Rather shallow sense of purpose and a socio-cultural context that allows leaders to exclude a broad section of the populace from governance and access to economic resources.”
The senior banker maintained that the continent in the 21st century was in ‘dire’ need of a development strategy that would put it on the path of industrial and material progress.
Aku regretted that the prevailing economic situation in Africa had made the continent the least developed in the world.
He said the consequences of not living up to the terms of regional integration could be dire if nations failed to exercise the discipline needed to keep the regional economy arrangement stable.
According to him, African states must work on the disintegration of trade relationships and the shallowness of their respective economic relationships.
Aku noted that aside the challenges of Africa’s over-dependence on primary products to stimulate growth and development, many African countries lacked the infrastructural capacity to diversify their economic bases.
He said, “Therefore, the coming together of African nation states must be anchored on the improvement of a large swathe of continental economies and the socio-political structures that support them.
“Trying to wield Africa into a global economic powerhouse, with all its attendant social and political advantages, would be fruitless unless deliberate policy actions are taken now to bring African economies into a world where productivity, innovation and creativity define social mobility and financial success.”