How To Leapfrog Economic Renaissance In Africa
By Bayo Ogunmupe
IMAGES: Prologue to Africa’s Development and Economic Renaissance is an analysis of the prospects for development and economic resurgence in Africa.
The book, written by Adedoyin Soyibo, a professor of Economics at the University of Ibadan was a product of Soyibo’s sojourn in Duke University, Durham, USA while he was a visiting professor in African American Studies between 2010 and February 2011. Published by the University Press Ibadan in 2014, the book appears to have come at a time transition from authoritarian to democratic values in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general is taking root. The volume is all the more appropriate now that Africa is ready to leapfrog into sustained growth and inclusive development.
The belief that the image of self-interest colours development policy permeates this work. The text is an incisive and lucid analysis of African development in the new millennium.
Encapsulated in the book are the history and economics of post-colonial Africa within the framework of the pursuit of enlightened self-interest in a plural democracy. In Images…, Soyibo displayed such a logical and mathematical precision befitting his discipline as an analytical economist. He also used the experience-based approach of case studies to recommend suitable strategies for overcoming Africa’s current development problems. It is delightful that the author spared readers academic jargons by his simple literary style and language in the delivery of the work. Thus, he made the book and knowledge available to a broad spectrum of readers beyond professional academics, thereby enabling us to understand the world we now live in.
The segmentation is also enticing. Its acknowledgments, foreword, preface and lists of boxes, figures and abbreviations are chapters in themselves since they made interesting reading. Moreover, the introduction is an informed and enlarged review of the entire work. This text of six chapters can be categorised into four segments: the Image driving economic policy and development; paradigms of economic thought and conflicts in development strategy; goal of development and the concept of quality of life; as well as images of development in Africa and its future.
Indeed, the highpoint of the book is the sophistication by which development challenges in Africa is analysed. Soyibo examined the literature of development policy and Africa’s political history. He recommended suitable strategies for overcoming development drawbacks in our continent. Though not formally expressed, Soyibo agreed with Walter Rodney’s How Europe underdeveloped Africa.
The book reminds us that pre-colonial Africa was not perfect but worse still, post colonial African leaders did little to ameliorate conditions.
Indeed, a corollary to Images, is Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are failing And What can be Done About It. The difference between Collier and Soyibo is that the latter takes us through African history showing that the rain started beating us long before now and that the clouds have not stopped forming everywhere. Soyibo’s conclusion is that what Africa needs is not aid but trade and empowerment.
Accordingly, after the economic meltdowns of the 1980s and 1990s, in Africa, Soyibo’s submission is that we in Africa need to adopt the emulation strategy of following in the way that saw development in the advanced industrial societies of the West. We should identify and actively promote the increasing returns of our economies, until the lessons learnt in the process suffuse and permeate all productive activities in Nigeria, or any other African country. These lessons include promoting innovation, in the economy and the society at large, fostering the transformation of the economy, encouraging linkages and ensuring substantial additions along the value chain of all productive activities.
That these lessons are being learnt is reflected in economic upturns in some African countries in recent years. Soyibo has used Nigeria as a case study. The author believes, Nigeria is witnessing a new sustainable renaissance in our economic growth. Indeed, Images is a fascinating examination of prevailing challenges in African economic policy making. It delves deeply into the cause of our underdevelopment and the remedies available to us. It also avows the idea that the future economic development of Africa depends on the intellectual confidence, morality and integrity of African leaders. This book is an essential reading for ministries of finance and economic affairs in Africa. It is also a compelling reading for legislators to enable them craft laws and policies that emancipate us from our economic woes.
The author, Professor Adedoyin Soyibo is a Professor of Economics at the University of Ibadan. He has served as head of the department of economics and as dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the same university. He received his BSc in Mathematics from Ibadan in 1975 and PhD in Economics in 1983. Apart from Images, Soyibo has written such books as: The Power of Ideas (1996); Health Care Delivery Under Conflict (2005) and papers in Building an Entrepreneurship Culture (2013).