(MENAFN – The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Qatar University (QU) yesterday held a roundtable discussion on ‘The Gulf and Africa aimed to provide an overview on the growth prospects in Africa and to address the Africa-Gulf relations.
The event featured three discussions moderated by QU Gulf Studies Center (GSC) Director Dr Abdulla Baabood, and presented by Pravin Gordhan, former minister of Finance of South Africa; Dr Haroon Bhorat, Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town; and Dr Afyare Elmi, GSC Associate Professor of Gulf Studies.
Attendees included QU President Dr Hassan Al Derham, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of South Africa Prof Shirish M Soni, and QU VP for Academic Affairs Dr Omar Al Ansari, as well as QU officials, faculty and students.
Pravin Gordhan addressed the democratic, economic and social development of the African continent since the 1980s until the 21st century. He highlighted the impact of globalisation on the continent in general and the middle and working classes in particular. He pointed to the important role of democracy, transparency and wise governance to ensure Africa’s progress and growth, and to strengthen its relations with the world. He also highlighted the steps undertaken by the African countries to regulate their economic systems and policies in order to ensure a dynamic development.
Dr Haroon Bhorat addressed the recent growth record in Africa since the ‘lost decades (1980s and 1990s) until the 2000s when the situation changed. He referred to the famous Economist article on the ‘fastest growing economies in the world: 2001-2010 that listed the 10 fastest growing countries in the world among which six countries were African with Angola on top. He also stressed the importance of manufacturing and low-wage manufacturing to ensure sustainable growth in Africa, and the necessity of building economic complexity and capabilities to pursue economic development. ‘By 2100, 37 out of 100 or 3,7 of every 4 workers on the planet will be African, he said.
He added: ‘Africa is witnessing a massive development in investment such as the rail, ports, telecommunications, and roads. However, the continent is still lagging behind the rest of the world, and these investments are subject to numerous border disputes requiring regional cooperation.
Dr Afyare Elmi addressed Africa’s position against the blockade on the State of Qatar. He highlighted the importance of the historical, cultural and religious factors in driving forward the relations between the Gulf and Africa. He also highlighted the impact of security issues and instability in the African continent on the Gulf region and the world, as well as the piracy off the coast of Somalia which has been a threat to international shipping.
Dr Abdulla Baabood said: ‘The importance of the African continent cannot be overstated. The sleeping tiger has had many setbacks and faces numerous economic, social and political challenges but there is a good opportunity for Africa to overcome these challenges and to prosper. The ‘African Century is not just a dream as the continent has enormous but un-realized potential and there is a silver lining in the horizon. Given its rich resources, Africa is becoming even more important for all global economic powers and China is a good example. The Gulf countries too are becoming more active in Africa for many reasons, including historical, cultural, social, economic and strategic links and interests. This event gives a good introduction on the Africa-Gulf relations and we look forward to similar events in the future to explore more specific issues of the Africa-Gulf relations.