Foundations for the future?
Mahamed Mounjid

RABAT - Like Asia did in the second half of the 20th century, Africa can move up to the economic big leagues only if it can manage to industrialize and learn to increase its productivity.

The future of the continent as a whole, notes economist François Fadi Farra, will not depend on one single economic model to fit every African country. But while each country has its own specificities, Fadi Farra stresses that joining efforts within a large free trade area would be a great advantage.

However, following the footsteps of the Asian dragons is no easy feat. According to economist Greg Mills, Africa still lacks assets that are essential to be competitive: energy for instance, but also infrastructures, physical and cultural, financial resources and (skilled) human resources. The manufacturing sector has seen a 17% drop in the past few years.

So what is the best solution? Boosting industry with foreign investments, or relying on local funds? According to Mills it is essential to develop local businesses: they are at the heart of African development, even if Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) should not to be neglected.

In order to catch up with international standards, local businesses need the support of the public sector. Mills believes that government funding and support play an essential part in protecting emerging industry. Case in point, he says, is an industrial park in South Africa that used to have 129 production plants. Today, the measures of government support have all been lifted, and there is only one manufacturing plant left.

According to an international businessman who wished to remain anonymous, Africa suffers from a lack of overall organization. He thinks the costs related to transactions and production should be reduced. The business environment also has a great influence on investment decisions, and should not be neglected.

He also points at the spirit of entrepreneurship on the continent: “We insist too much on growth and not enough on employment.” For him, an entrepreneur must see risk as an opportunity and not as a threat or a danger: “When facing a tiger, some immediately think about fleeing, whereas the Chinese businessman asks himself how to tame it,” he says.

Not ready for stability

Failures also come from insufficient knowledge and business strategy. The school system is often held responsible for these failings, due to its obvious lack of efficiency. Mills points out that it wrongly focuses on memorization rather than analysis and the building of a critical mind.

Regulation is another obstacle to the development of companies. According to American billionaire Ronald Lauder, who gave 60% of his money to non-profit organizations, Africa should change its fiscal system in order to attract more investments. The complexity of legal systems and fiscal regulations, combined with the absence of tax exemptions are scaring investors off, he says.

A financial manager denounces the numerous differences between legal systems, which go to show that “Africa is not ready yet for political and economical stability.”

With more than 85 million jobs risk being transferred to China in the coming years, national elites in every country are also to blame for this “unhealthy growth” that cannot meet the job demand.

“We wrongly insist on growth rather than employment. Sometimes growth can actually harm employment,” the manager insists.

This brings another question to the table. What are the priorities of African officials on the employment front? Making jobs more temporary, more durable, or simply more decent?

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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