An International Consultant / Special Adviser on Investment, Diaspora and Development Partners to the AU ECOSOCC Nigeria, Mrs Chinwe Maduike, in this interview with Bukola Olasanmi in Abuja, Maduike amongst other issues said until Africa gets its house in order through good governance, Trump’s view may prevail:
Congratulations on your appointment, what are some of the areas you will be focusing on as you embark on this new assignment?
Many thanks, We have got initiatives and projects designed to sustain economic progress in Nigeria and Africa as a whole with my core area of work largely focusing on: investments, diaspora matters, strengthening and forging new strategic alliance with developmental partners, all projects will be designed in line with Agenda 2063 which is a strategic framework for the socio- economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.
As an International Consultant with project focused on gender, youth among others, how do you intend to help the council tackle the various social vices pledging Africa youth?
Africa has the largest youth population of the world. According to the United Nations, 226 million youth aged 15-24 lived in Africa in 2015 representing nearly 20% of Africa’s population, making up one fifth of the world’s youth population. The continent’s youthful population presents a powerful opportunity for accelerated economic growth and innovation.
However, as a consultant, I do recognise the fact that this demographic also presents economic and social challenges. Unemployment or underemployment, and lack of social security, educational opportunities and inclusive governance can drive youth to informal or even criminal activities, making them susceptible to recruitment efforts of terrorist organisations, or lead youth to attempt illegal migration. At present the African Union ECOSOCC has seen an unparareled improvement and leadership in the area of youth advocacy through the sterling leadership of its present chairman and country Rep. A world renowned seasoned youth advocate.
The AU ECOSOCC through his leadership, are very aware of the fact that a youth population without opportunity can lead to political instability and security challenges.
To address this issue, we are working with African governments on effective policies and measures which are critical to harness the benefits of the potential demographic dividend. To date, the AU ECOSOCC has assisted various African governments to implement sound policies and projects in human capital sectors such as tertiary education, vocational training, skills development, agriculture and food security, health, labour intensive job creation and encouraging entrepreneurship, as well as peace and security. In addition, African governments need support from a wide range of international partners and stakeholders as the Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved without the active engagement and contribution of Africa’s youth to identify their priorities, partner with development partners to foster robust implementation of the various development priorities.
Bearing this in mind, the first steps towards implementation progress has been registered at both regional and global levels, with the formulation of two ambitious, holistic Agendas: Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063 with its corresponding First Ten-Year Implementation Plan. Both agendas bring youth issues into sharp focus. In particular, Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 states that Africa wants: “An Africa, whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth.”
Furthermore, the theme of the 28th African Union Summit in January 2017 called for “Harnessing Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth”. All major development activities across the continent were focused on harnessing youth potential to drive forward Africa’s transformative agenda. This was coupled with the declaration of the decade 2010-2019 as the Africa Youth Decade to accelerate youth empowerment and development.
The office of African Union – ECOSOCC Nigeria, continues to support youth empowerment in Africa through its advocacy efforts. We are reaching out and engaging international partners and organisations to provide a platform for African youth to raise awareness of the challenges they face, as well as to discuss ways to strengthen African youth participation in global, regional, national and local governance processes.
The ongoing challenge of emigration leading to the death of thousands of youth in the Mediterranean sea and the Libya slave trade is alarming, do you have plans that would impact the council’s efforts?
The African Union has been trying its best to date, to address the migrant issue and find a coherent solution to the immigration crisis. Although, the African Union strategically partners with the United Nations’ refugee and migration agencies amongst many others. The fight against poverty and a legitimate source of income must be created for people involved in this illicit trade
I bring with me a wealth of experience from my previous job role which gave me a hands on experience with migrants and refugees from Africa within the shores of mainland Europe. Together with the AU Ecosocc Nigeria team, we will be pushing forward a signatory project on human trafficking which will be centred around the migration policy framework for Africa this includes the African Common Position on Migration and Development, Joint AU-EU Declaration on Migration and Development, Victims-Protection Approach. With particular attention paid to The Root-Cause, prevention and awareness.
AU ECOSOCC Nigeria, will also be actively taking part and leading workshops at the World Boarder Congress coming up in Spain this year to find ways of effectively coordinating among countries of destination, transit and origin identify the root causes, share experience with local and international development partners and civil society organizations with a view to curbing irregular migration of African youths and even families to Europe. With the end result of improving cooperation with our European counter parts, international boarder agencies and the establishment of databases.
Majority of African women are in the bottom linecof the poverty ladders, what advice would you give ECOSOCC on this?
Poverty disproportionately affects women and the trend is increasing.
Two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are women. They account for half of all refugees but tend to suffer more than men, particularly from sexual violence, while in flight. AIDS afflicts both sexes equally, but in places where the virus is rampant, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, young women are now deemed at higher risk than men of contracting the disease.
programmes that encourage girls’ education, better maternal health and on so-called micro-credit initiatives that funnel money directly into the hands of women.
Policies and programs that seek to reduce women’s poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and address the feminization of poverty. Fairer treatment of women is also one of the most effective ways to improve an economy’s efficiency as well. It is widely recognised that education is an important factor in contributing to productivity improvements. Educating more women in developing countries and specifically making education available to men and women equally is likely to raise the productive potential of any economy significantly. As education levels rise, so do household incomes.
AU ECOSOCC needs to ensure that most projects implemented are focused, with girls and women at their heart. Projects must seek to actively address the following structural, social, economic and political barriers of women within our societies as a way of lifting women out of the poverty trap. In Africa, far more than anywhere else, women are disproportionately affected by corruption because of reduced access to resources, lower participation in governance and weaker protection of their rights.
At the adoption of most projects leaders, our project teams and institutional partners we work with must agree to an ambitious framework that has a strong focus on unleashing the potential of girls and women through clear targets. These goals must tackle girl child education, gender inequality, including through ending violence against women, child marriages, human trafficking and the exploitation of girls and women. Strong emphasis must also be layed on women being represented by market integration and financial alignment.
The challenges and injustices that girls and women in the developing world face are many – across all aspects of life – and the benefits of Education to the Girl Child, her Community, Society and the Nation at large cannot be exhausted.
On diaspora, how do you intend to foster coordination between the various Nigeria and African association?
I strongly believe that an engaged diaspora can be an asset to their country of origin and the continent at large. To attain this, I have developed a road map for effective and sustainable engagement with the Nigerian and African diaspora communities. These engagements involve us knowing the diaspora communities a bit more better, mutual identification of goals and capacities, build trust and mobilising the diaspora community for development in Nigeria and subsequently Africa.
At set intervals the AU ECOSOCC NIGERIA will be monitoring the progress and evaluating the impact of our engagement with the Nigeria and African diaspora community to make sure that our targets are being met.
My team and I, at the AU ECOSOCC – Nigeria have identified six core areas for diaspora engagement which we will be focussing on. They are: Remittances, making remittances work for the common good, for this we have also strategically partnered with leading money remittances companies around the World. Direct investment: finding and attracting serious minded investors in the diaspora. Work on areas involving ideas on the transfer of human capital. Philanthropic contributions in the area of development, capital market investments and diaspora tourism.
Critics are of the view that Africa should shun hands out from donors and international community but should leverage on its diaspora members to drive investment in Africa, what is your take on this?
AID to us in Africa, has largely resulted in programmes that stimulate local economies and subsequently reduce aid dependency. The provision of foreign assistance to us, from the West, has at times in Africa, made us develop a culture of dependency on our donors and fostered paternalism as opposed to partnerships with the West. This I must stress is very bad.
In today’s World, African governments must identify priorities, define, and implement them and not be reactionary to the politics of the West. Our government’s need to take this opportunity to scale up policies that engage diaspora’s spur democracy, thus creating the enabling environment for diasporas and investors to build prosperity in Africa through concrete priorities such as job creation, regional integration, and economic engagement and effective engagement of diaspora communities.
Diasporas can and must be engaged to promote trade and foreign direct investment, create businesses and spur entrepreneurship, and transfer new knowledge and skills if properly engaged. To date, remittances and investments by the diaspora are the main source of funding for diaspora-led development. Foreign direct investment by the diaspora is also becoming a substantial economic driver, particularly in countries like Nigeria and the African Continent and this cannot be ignored. Rather it must be harnessed.
According to the World Bank, diaspora can facilitate investment between origin and ‘host’ countries through access to information on investment opportunities and knowledge about the potential risks/benefits. African governments must seek and actively do more to remove obstacles and create opportunities for diasporas to engage in economic development. Specific actions include identifying goals, mapping diaspora location and skills, fostering a relationship of trust with the diaspora, maintaining means of effective communication with the diaspora, and ultimately encouraging diaspora contributions to national development. Governmental diaspora-focused entities in countries of origin need to play a dual role, both facilitating diaspora contributions to the homeland, and serving the diaspora.
Agriculture is the new focus now in Africa, especially Nigeria, are you also looking toward this sector?
Agriculture is Nigeria’s single largest and a key economic sector. In 2016, agriculture accounted for 24.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the value chain is highly underdeveloped. We have a number of AU ECOSOCC projects which seek to address this particular problem.
AU ECOSOCC, recognises the fact that most raw materials from the sector are exported without any value addition, resulting in loss of huge revenues and jobs. Massive investments are also required to increase production and create value addition in the sector. Our ongoing projects is aimed at addressing this through the help of key, government ministries, international partners and experts in the agricultural field.
Agricultural value chains hold considerable promise in reducing poverty and promoting inclusive growth when the poor and other marginal groups participate in them. Under the right conditions, value chains can move smallholder farmers from subsistence into commercial agriculture. Our projects aim to achieve self-sufficiency and deepen diversification, increasing private sector participation, the quality and safety standards of agricultural products, improving institutional and financial frameworks, promoting national policies that support the agricultural sector; by reducing barriers to inputs, increasing access to finance and providing incentives, creating an enabling environment and improving market access through capacity building and training inputs.
President Donald Trump’s shithole comment is to many a call for Africa leaders to sit up. What would you say about this?
U.S. President Donald Trump’s incendiary comments about African nations is an insult to Africa, offensive and at the same time a serious call for introspection. An apology from Mr President to the African continent and a retraction of the said vulgar statement will not go amiss.
However, until Africa gets its house in order through good governance this view will prevail. Much of Africa relies on foreign aid, despite economic growth in parts of the continent significantly outpacing the global average. African government as a matter of urgency, must take responsibility and put in place effective governmental policies, geared to a total and decisive form of fiscal independence from the West.