Concentration on single commodity exports hindering economic growth in Africa: expert
An economic development expert on Friday urged African countries to invest in economic diversification programs because doing so will among other things help to create the much needed employment opportunities.
Professor Oliver Saasa told Xinhua in an interview that the over-reliance on single commodity exports has hindered many countries particularly in Africa from exploiting other potentially beneficial economic opportunities.
Saasa, who is a renowned Zambian economist, explained that since pre-independence times, Zambia has concentrated on copper exports,while other potentially viable economic undertakings continue receiving little attention.
He explained that currently copper accounts for about 80 percent of Zambia’s export earnings and that with so much focus on just copper, everything else has been forgotten.
“That is a problem at a number of levels. First is that because we have concentrated on only one product, we have not diversified into other things including with the copper itself such as value addition. Second is that we have been dependent on the industrial sector whose behavior in terms of demand, how much we can produce and price we have no control,” he said.
According to him, Zambia would do well to seriously venture into diversification by even just adding value to products that are already in place such as copper rather than exporting it in its raw as is the case now.
There are a lot of opportunities from a range of sectors to enable us grow our economies. But there is need to appreciate and utilize them fully before reaping benefits from them, he added.