This week in Say More, PS talks with Carl Manlan, Chief Operating Officer at the Ecobank Foundation.
Project Syndicate: Last month, you and Efosa Ojomo touted market-creating innovations as powerful means of boosting growth and reducing inequality in Africa. Because such innovations “focus on the needs of the majority,” they could give the continent’s poor access to critical resources and create local jobs. But, as we know from more developed economies, neither blue-collar jobs nor consumable goods are enough to ensure that the benefits of growth are shared widely. What steps should African policymakers take to encourage equitable and inclusive innovation-led growth?
Carl Manlan: The majority of Africans work in the informal economy. These workers are striving to improve their own lives, and to move Africa forward, with what they have – which is often very little. The objective is not to ensure that they “catch up” with the wealthier groups per se, but rather to transform the lives of the majority, who live in rural areas, with the resources that are available.
To that end, Africa’s policymakers will first need to pursue a data-driven approach to gain a better understanding of the women, men, and young people propelling their economies. They will have their work cut out for them. But doing so will improve their capacity to ensure that the transformation ahead, while taking advantage of technological leapfrogging, is appropriately incremental, unfolding at a pace that carries the majority along the development continuum.
We ask all our Say More contributors to tell our readers about a few books that have impressed them recently. Here are Manlan's picks:
by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee
This poetry anthology forms an ode to the author’s Muslim identity in South Africa. One line, in particular, has stuck with me, and shaped my efforts to be a better parent: “Parents don’t have to be parents to hold things their children touch.”
by Melinda Ferguson
This collection of essays – which Ferguson published, compiled, and contributed to – features work by some of South Africa’s most celebrated writers, disruptors, and thinkers. While in South Africa, I was pleased to dive into these narratives of transformation, grief, societal challenges, hope, and sorrow, each coming from a different part of the country. Taken together, these narratives measure the pulse of the country, at a time when it is united, however uncertainly, by lockdown.
by Tsitsi Dangarembga
An evocative narrative that explores the challenges of a life lived in a constantly evolving environment. Much of the book is set in Harare, Zimbabwe. It brought me back to my time in that city, being welcomed to southern Africa and improving my English at Speciss College more than 20 years ago
From the PS Archive
Manlan makes the case for Africa to build a monetary union – and then demonetize. Read more.
Manlan says Africa should address job creation the way it has faced HIV/AIDS – with reliable data. Read more.
Around the web
Manlan argues that more must be done to ensure the informal economy is included in a comprehensive strategy to beat COVID-19 in Africa. Read the commentary.
Manlan, Iqbal, and Nabi show how, the use of technology and strong governmental support, can end stunting on the continent. Read the commentary.