April 27th, 2011
02:08 PM GMT
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Business leaders and political bigwigs will soon meet in Cape Town for the World Economic Forum. There is a clear understanding that the dialogue has shifted in recent years when it comes to understanding Africa’s role in the world.

No longer dismissed as a business basket case, the global community knows that money is being made on the continent. Growth rates are strong. Investment is flowing. Returns are good.

The big question for Africans is to ensure that they too get a share of the spoils.

But how do they do this?

The answer for many is the rather wordy phrase “beneficiation at source.” Politicians like to throw this buzz phrase into conversations because it describes how local communities should “benefit” from their own natural resources.

Traditionally, foreign companies buy Africa’s raw materials, whether they are metals, oil or crops, and then sell the finished product back to Africa.

Now, there is a political push for more African control over its refining capacity, to have more influence over the end product.

While this makes sense, economists and analysts all point to two significant challenges that Africans face as they try to unlock the potential of their continent and grab the opportunities “at source.”

Over and over again, I hear the same two concerns - that a lack of infrastructure and a skills deficit continue to hold back Africans.

If Africa’s working-age youth - an estimated half-a-billion people by 2050 - are to seize the chances that lie before them, then more investment has to be plowed into education.

African engineers, farmers and architects are urgently needed to create a better infrastructure to underpin the continent’s economic potential.

Highways linking big cities and regional hubs need to be built. Fertile agricultural lands need to be farmed strategically. Electricity and power grids need to be upgraded and maintained.

The world and African leaders cannot talk about economic growth unless they increase investment in the critical areas needed to sustain that potential.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. André

    The point should never be to "get your share" but to "earn your share". Far too much is made of human "rights" and far too little of responsibilities.

    April 28, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  2. Ed Francis

    This the only article written by Robyn that I could actually read and enjoy, because she is always hugely negative about Africa and the case for Africa. Which is quite typical for most white South African, even though they benefit from the luxuries and quality of life and opportunities that Africa provides. Africa has it's own challenges and it's quite sad that we get representation from people who despise and are not positive about the prospects of the continent. We have a joke in our house every time when Robyn come on Marketplace Africa, she will always have the same negative tone and at times patronizing tone about Africa. It's quite ironic that I enjoy African programs by Isha Sasey and other International correspondent because they tend to be more positive about Africa. If you compare the tone in Market Place Asia versus Market Place Africa, the Asian program is presented by a person with a passion for the region unlike Robyn who perpetuates the stereotypical idea about Africa. CNN is missing an opportunity to be part of the change that's happening in Africa by having people who are passionate about the region. I have been around a lot of white south Africans and I can tell you that they still have massive mental barriers about Africa. I know Robyn is a Cambridge graduate and I would have thought this would have help her be more open minded.

    I hope you don't label me an uneducated angry African, because I am actually educated. Born in Africa but have spent most of my adult life in Europe, living and working in London and Zurich. I hope CNN is prepared to have this discussion with me.

    April 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  3. Dave

    The point should always be to get your share. Have you been paying attention to the way the world has been operating for the last 5 + centuries? Securing their fair share of their wealth is a front and center responsibility of the African people. By the way, I would say that Africans have already earned their share of their wealth by being Africans. For all those who disagree please tell me how much of your countries' wealth you would willingly give to foreigners.

    April 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  4. KD

    Andre, point of correction. Owning the source, subsequently means getting your share, and that means getting properly paid for what you own.

    April 28, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  5. icons pack

    The ideal answer

    September 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  6. icons package

    Rather useful topic

    October 8, 2012 at 3:43 am |

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