Dr Greg Mills, co-author of “Making Africa Work”, says there are six key themes that can help Africa become a better, more efficient continent.

1. Demographics
There are a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa and there will be 2 billion by 2050, according to estimates by the United Nations. A large portion of these people – 80% – will be living in African cities, so the question arises: how will our existing cities and infrastructure cope with the influx of people? Dr Mills says that African cities are going to become dynamic centres of change and this change can be positive if we plan for it, but it will undoubtedly be negative if we fail to plan.

2. The next generation
Africa’s youth population is estimated to be 16% to 17% of the global youth population today and by 2025, it will rise to one quarter of the world’s youth population. By 2050, this figure will rise to 50 per cent. There is tremendous pressure to create jobs and in order to do this, we need to skill people correctly and create the right environment for growth.

3. Jobs
As the commodity prices go down, we need to rethink how we will provide jobs for people in the future. Even rising commodity prices won’t deliver the sort of growth that we need to provide jobs to people. We need an in-depth look at each sector to explore a range of ways on how to create more jobs.

4. Policy and plans
There are many vision statements across Africa and there is scarcely a country that doesn’t have a national development plan. Since Zambia’s independence, there have been six national development plans in the country. Many of these plans have long lists of what needs to be done and they often contain a very good diagnoses of the problems we face, but the “how” is virtually always missing. The political will to execute the plans is also often lacking.

5. Democracy
After unpicking the last 25 years of economic development, Dr Greg Mills and his team were able to show conclusively that democracies grow faster and their compounding rates are much better because they don’t suffer periods of sudden decline. They are also more stable. Despite the exceptions often used to try to disprove the rule – notably Ethiopia and Rwanda – it is important to maintain democracy for future growth.

6. Skills and technology
A sector by sector focus on mining, agriculture, tourism, banking etc. is needed to focus on how we can improve the skills and technology of each sector.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Dr Greg Mills for the information contained in this article.

Scan here to watch the video where Dr Mills discuss the book: