The Director-General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr Babatunde Irukera, has called for the prioritisation of robust regulation and stronger competition policies as a core strategy in the quest for Africa’s economic renaissance in a changing world.
The CPC boss stated this during his presentation at the Africa Policy Forum of the Leeds University Centre of Africa Studies (LUCAS) of the University of Leeds.
Describing Africa’s market as its greatest economic asset, Irukera advocated the implementation of simple widely acknowledged principles of asset management and strategies to maximise the benefits from markets in order to overcome poverty and achieve significant economic growth.
“Asset management essentially refers to a systematic approach to governance and realisation of value,” he noted.
In the presentation entitled “Africa’s Emerging Market: A matter of Asset and Access”, Irukera stated that the increasing value of the African market is underscored by rising consumer spending across the continent which was about $1.4 trillion in 2015, and projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025.
This growth, he said, was driven by key factors such as a young and growing population, rise in incomes, rapid urbanisation and widespread adoption of technology.
Irukera cited statistics to underscore the burgeoning population which is driving the growing expansion and importance of its market as including 16 per cent of global population (1.2 billion) living in Africa; more than half of global population growth between now and 2050 expected to occur in Africa; and Africa’s population to reach 2.5 billion by 2050 (more than double of current population).
He said: “Considering population and age, it is clear that Africa’s greatest assets are its people and skills. Sadly they are also our greatest export.
“Africans are key applicants to nations with skills acquisition immigration policies which focus on highly skilled migrants, whether it’s USA, Canada or U.K. Essentially these countries benefit from people who have acquired certain skills they need without the time and resource required to invest in development”, he added.
Irukera posited that rather than engage in unproductive handwringing over the export of talent and skills out of Africa, there should be a stronger focus on robust regulation and competition regimes to overcome current challenges and maximize existing opportunities.
He stated further: “Coordinated policy and execution that recognize our asset, and regulate access in a manner that advances our causes and economies is the curve we need to turn to see continent wide growth.
“The kind of growth that connects the numbers to people and lives such as moving people up from poverty to shared prosperity. Therein exactly lies the secret, rule and purpose of governance. At the heart of this is promoting a robust market and asset management modified only by market regulations that catalyze but protect”, he stated.
According to Irukera, the positive impact of improved competition and regulation regimes on the continent are real and are felt by all strata of society from the highest levels down to the lowest rungs.
To highlight the gains that can be derived from tackling anti-competitive practices and reforming policies to enable competition, Irukera cited figures from the World Bank and other sources.
The CPC DG revealed that reducing the prices of food staples by just 10%, tackling cartels and improving regulations that limit competition in food markets could lift 500,000 people in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia out of poverty and save consumers more than $700 million a year.
However, Irukera identified a key challenge in the path of improved competition and regulation in Africa, noting that in more than 40% of African countries, a single operator holds over half the market share in telecommunications and transport sectors.
The director general stated: “Economic performance is generally measured by spending and consumption index as a key indicator. Spending is usually considered a matter of disposable income. However, spending is as much a matter of satisfaction as it is of disposable income. Satisfaction is primarily about choice, price, quality and treatment. The rightly regulated market will provide satisfaction and encourage spending”.