Global Conversation with El Hadj Kasse

The elites continue to struggle to achieve a real inclusive growth. Image El Hadj Kasse, the current intellectual advisor to the President of Senegal who, with one-step ahead, shares these views on issues of Africa.

Include youth and Build Equal Relations between Africa and the World

The Internalization of Economic policies, or Exceed retirements and FDI sectors


The West African initiates reform to build a new social and economic transformer and sustainable project—for example, “Plan Emergence” national.

In addition, the elite continues to struggle to achieve a real inclusive growth. El Hadj Kasse, the advisor to the President of Senegal, discussed about conflicted views on Africa, and offered an economic vision as the world advises Africa to develop its natural resources. He indicated the controversy not only in agriculture but also in industry to develop its value and employment; he furthermore describes that banking and telecoms are actually in Africa essentially an annuity sector.

A privileged conversation that The Bridge Tank continues over the coming months.


Joel Ruet: You are a philosopher, writer, journalist involved in politics. What do you see as major issues in West Africa today?

El Hadj Kasse: There are two simultaneously critical challenges. The first issue is peace and security. There are many critical points concerning West Africa today: Nigeria with the the Boko Haram group, chronic instability in Guinea-Bissau, uncertainty in Burkina Faso in the north Mali that is far from being stabilized.


The second challenge related to this critical and anxious situation is the economic takeoff. So far there has been much emphasis on FDI, foreign direct investment, and many of enabling policies have been implemented to attract investors. Certainly, there are stirrings in some countries like Ivory Coast or Senegal, but in my opinion, this option, which is to bet on foreign direct investment, has its limits.


Essentially, investors are moving towards retirement sectors, namely mining, oil, banking, insurance, and telecommunications. This is important, but these are few growth engines for economic transformation in West Africa. This is why I believe more and more that the major challenge, besides that of peace and stability, is one we might call the internalization of economic policies. Try to evaluate our potential in terms of human resources but also in terms of economic opportunities in agriculture and industry to see the gear on which we could rely to drive internal dynamics of structural transformation in our economy.


These are, I believe, the two challenges that are expected to lay the foundations of our economic and social takeoff.


JR: I think your analysis is important because outside observers of Africa, I hardly caricature, have two positions: classic Afro-pessimism, still very active, and its proponents do not fail to emphasize precisely the various crises, the security problems; and a new African optimism based on some growth in recent years. What I like your analysis is that you point to the fact that this growth and these investments are very unevenly distributed. Indeed, so far they have not shown this transforming property and essential appropriation to the implementation of own dynamic African economies.


From your perspective, how can African people apply these two issues we see that treated simultaneously together?


EK: I think it is neither to be Afro-optimist nor to be Afro-pessimistic. It is the question about leadership ability. The West Africa and each our individual country are in regional and international context dominated by constraints of diversity, where are the options for action at national and autonomous capabilities are extremely low. However, it is in this narrow, in these limited possibilities, we should just register to seize the opportunities that arise: the dynamics of our youth, the triumph of democratic systems essentially emerges female leadership, in particular entrepreneurship.


JR: Does this apply to Francophone-African countries as well?


EK: Yes, such as Senegal. Senegal shows structural adjustment since the mid-1980s. They saw many families broken up because the men were unemployed after massive layoffs from companies. Then we have seen the emergence of new female leadership: first in food micro-processing industries, then in the trade sector, and gradually in small and medium enterprises. These are some massive phenomena but for now we should be able to reply on emerging.


In our country, everything must be rebuilt, but the growth potential is huge. The quality of our human resources, telecommunications infrastructure as well as (essentially in a country like Senegal) a human capital quality, are all opportunities and levers on which to base just redesign proposed emergence of social and economic takeoff.


JR: You make your point right on leadership and the project. Leadership and project revolve around a vision and own a vision that incorporates different categories of the population. You mentioned women. There is also the “older and younger.” We are in West Africa with important demographic dynamics that include essential human resources and talents that are emerging. Many observers also point out the links between the issues of security and employment of youth. What would be a concrete way for seniors to include cadets in a new social contract?


EK: Obviously the issue of cadets has now become crucial and very serious. Young people are unemployed and very often without professional training. You have very generalist graduates who have difficulty to fit into the professional world. You have no other general or vocational training. The risk today is not only to act against migration that empties gradually our country of vital and productive forces. It is also the jihadist temptation present an offer socially more “interesting” in the short term as no fixed employment or unemployment posture in which the West African youth faces today.


It seems important to put this issue in the overall context of the reconstruction of our project. It is an accelerating and compressed strategy. We must ensure that the millions of West African youths are at the heart of project—structural transformation of our economies. Concerning about the agricultural sector, it is really about the food processing, or the whole perspective of re-industrialization of our states. If we adopt internal policies and do not rely solely on FDI, if we have endogenous approaches and not folded in on themselves, we can mobilize African youth, women, local entrepreneurs in general and create much transparent and sustainable growth dynamics.


JR: A significant number of economic stakeholders with an interest in Africa are demanding a debate with the part of the African elites who position, offering a trench vision. I would like to go back to the issue of security. I love the way you put the link between security and inclusive development. It is a short-tem approach, but Jihadist poses a real offer for young people. In very simple and practical terms, do you think African and global elites can offer a competitive offering against the jihadist offer?


EK: It is no doubt to realize the notion of the elites. We have to have a dynamic approach because among these elites, some in conservative positions, want the world remains as it is, have no interest in that there is cross-outs as well at the country level and in relations between countries. That said, we note that there are new voices, not necessarily the most audible certainly having new perspectives and new approaches to course not only that the process of internal transformation countries borrow a certain path, inclusive, registered in the period, but that makes the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world are inspired by the principle of equality, mutual respect but also become common. In the words of the writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, we have not had the same past, but we have become exactly the same.


JR: This is my way of seeing things but you probably announce a post-emergent world that returns much that would be a pre-Westphalia world in which we would not have Europe to visit the world but worlds which visitors respectively.


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