“A book of compelling honesty but great optimism. It proposes a vision that overturns a long history of pessimism about Africa, and deserves to be read by policy-makers and investors globally.”
—Dr. Stephen Chan, Professor of International Relations at the SOAS University of London
We received an excellent endorsement from Dr. Olu Fasan who is a Visiting Fellow in the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics (LSE), and a member of the LSE’s International Trade Policy Unit. He is also currently a senior adviser on energy and climate change policy with the UK Government. In particular, he advises and develops policy on how to minimize the costs of EU and UK energy and climate change policies for UK businesses so as to support their international competitiveness. He also advises on state aid issues, working closely with the European Commission. In a note to author John I. Akhile, Dr. Fasan wrote:
Many thanks for sending me the letter appreciation. It was thoughtful of you.
To be honest, I really felt you did a good job in writing Unleashed. Such outstanding scholarly work, with the depth of research and analysis that went into it, rarely comes from Africans. Not that we are not capable of producing such works – of course, we are – but many of lack the discipline and commitment needed to make it happen. So, when I saw the efforts you put into writing Unleashed and the quality of the final product, I felt I had to acknowledge it, hence the mention in my BusinessDay column.
Unleashed’s breadth of coverage is really impressive. The book is historical, comparative and ideational in its approach. So, it tells us a lot about the history of world trade and how Africa and Africans have evolved within this. Then, very appropriately, it devotes a significant amount of space into describing and analysing the experiences of the so-called ‘Asian Tigers’ – e.g Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. This is a real contribution to knowledge, not least because it was the demonstration effect of the East Asian ‘miracle’ that showed African countries what was possible and contributed to the shift away from export pessimism and import substitution policy in many African countries. Of course, while African countries now recognise the need for export orientation, many of them don’t know what to do, or have the right policy in place, to achieve that goal. That’s where Unleashed is also useful. It contains a lot of ideas about to how to achieve export-oriented industrialisation.
I am impressed about the book’s optimism, the idea that export-led industrialisation is achievable. It recognises the challenges that Africa faces to become a serious exporting continent, but the book does not offer despondency, rather it offers solutions, such as how to develop the right export trade strategy, how to exploit comparatives advantages and how to build infrastructure and fund industrial projects. Surely, African trade policy-makers looking for workable ideas will not be short of them reading Unleashed.
But the book also serves a scholarly purpose. I believe it should be a compulsory read by students and academics who are studying, teaching or researching trade policy from an African perspective.
For the above reasons and other good ones that I cannot cover in this short piece, I will recommend Unleashed to every policy maker, academic and student who is interested in Africa’s potential and how this can be developed to ensure the continent can really trade through industrialisation.
John – I agree that we share comment interests and that it would be good to collaborate at some point. Hopefully time and other commitments permitting, we can work something out!
—Dr. Olu Fasan, Visiting Fellow in the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics (LSE)
“Recently, an African based in the US, John Akhile Sr., sent me book he has just written, titled Unleashed: A New Paradigm of African Trade with the World. He brilliantly tells a story of Africa’s marginalisation in world trade, and posits that Africa’s future lies in export-led industrialisation. He is right. Great nations are trading nations. And if Nigeria truly wants to be among the world’s greatest economies, it needs to manufacture quality goods and create quality services, and then export them to the world. The current situation in which manufactures account for just 1 percent of Nigeria’s total exports is certainly not sustainable.”
—Dr. Olu Fasan, Visiting Fellow in the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics (LSE), from the article “Great Nations Trade. Nigeria Must be a Serious Trading Nation” in BusinessDay Nigeria (pub. 14 September 2015)
“I just read your remarkable book. I share the same conviction and optimism with you about the future of African countries if their leaders have the vision to jumpstart export-oriented industrialization by using their abundant natural and human resources. Hope that the messages of your book will spread to leaders and intellectuals in Africa, take root in their hearts and convince them to take actions along the line of your suggestions.
“Every developing country, including those in Africa, has the potential to grow dynamically, transforming herself from a poor, agrarian economy into a middle- or even high-income economy in one or two generations. The key is for the government to facilitate the growth of sectors for which they can quickly become competitive internationally with what they currently have such as abundant supply of labor and/or nature resources. John I. Akhile Sr.’s Unleashed: A New Paradigm of African Trade with the World is a book full of practical insights about how to make such quick wins happened in Africa. This book is must reading for anyone who concerns about the poverty reduction and prosperity in Africa.”
—Dr. Justin Yifu Lin, Professor, National School of Development, Peking University and Former Chief Economist, the World Bank
“A comprehensive strategy for encouraging economic development in African nations.
“In this business book, Akhile (Compensatory Trade Strategy, 2006) takes the reader on a detailed journey through the problems that have hampered economic development in much of Africa and the concrete steps that can overcome many of the hurdles. The analysis draws heavily on the contrasting success of the “Asian Tigers,” particularly Singapore, Japan and South Korea, as instances of successful economies in countries that were once under the control of Western nations.
“Akhile guides the reader through a history that may be unfamiliar to many, from the 19th-century Opium Wars to the 1961 assassination of Patrice Lumumba, connecting each element to his central theme of building vibrant and sustainable African economies. Numerous charts and tables provide data to back up Akhile’s analysis, but despite the number of illustrations, the text remains dense, with sentences like ‘Let us be unequivocally clear that while there is probably a very miniscule minority of altruistic-minded people involved in the charade of non-profits in African countries, the vast business enterprise of aid is not about how to help African people; rather it is to ensure the continued existence of the various and sundry organizations through ever competitive struggles for donations, government contracts and subsidies’ throughout. The indictment of foreign aid and nongovernmental organizations is well-developed, as is Akhile’s prescription for developing a viable export-driven economic base that goes beyond the raw materials that African countries have tended to rely on. Although readers who prefer a broader approach to development may find the book limited in its strictly economic focus—the political repression that accompanied growth in Taiwan and Singapore is not mentioned—they will likely find it a useful tool for the aspects of growth it does address. Frequent citations and a detailed list of sources add to the solidity of Akhile’s study and situate the book within the context of other examinations of economic development and prescriptions for growth.
“A thorough and well-reasoned, if wordy, exploration of the possibilities for economic growth in Africa.”
“John Akhile has written well and wisely about the need for responsible captains on the ship of state to sail across the political waters in a safe and just manner. Unleashed: A New Paradigm of African Trade with the World ups the ante to a higher and more demanding level. Do read this challenging book and weigh, judiciously, Akhile’s cogent and poignant arguments–the future of Africa hinges on hearing the insights of Akhile.”
—Dr. Ron Dart, Professor of Political Science at the University of Fraser Valley, B.C. Columbia
“At present, Africa accounts for a very minimal percentage of the world’s GDP with a share in global manufactured exports close to zero. This weak integration in the global economy is a result of the failure of most countries in Africa to become competitive trading partners in a broader range of economic activities worldwide. The economic, political and social premise of Unleashed is that the situation can and should be turned around, and the author sets a roadmap through which this transformation can be achieved.
“The book sets out a clear matrix of choices that can enable African countries to fashion better trade strategies in order to benefit from the current unequal global trade system. The author presents a historical narrative leading to the current economic situation in Africa where many countries were lulled into a false sense of security believing that they are well off due to the presence of abundant natural resources. As discussed by the author, the time to recalibrate how Africa trades with the global community has never been this ripe. The clarion call urging stakeholders to approach and subscribe to equal approaches to trade matters and to do so with enthusiasm and tact can only be achieved if they are better informed and aware. Few texts present practical and visionary lessons to help cultivate, harness, and realize the benefits of adopting effective trade strategies in Africa like Unleashed.
“African countries have the potential to become major competitors with other parts of the world in economic growth and industrial transformation through radical improvements in trade dependency. International trade plays a major part in developing national economies and strategies to improve this cannot be overlooked any more. Unleashed offers fresh paradigms to reinvigorate Africa’s trade interactions with the world and presents pertinent strategies for having an improved manufacturing-base that will enable the continent to be more export oriented. The development imperatives and resource requirements for building a stronger export oriented economy needs great emphasis on cheap and quality labor, technology and infrastructure, power in order to create international competitiveness in prices of goods and costs of production. As presented in the book, the presence of abundant natural resources and a land mass in Africa can ensure that there are cost reductions in trade flows and thus increasing Africa’s competitiveness in global trade.
“The book carefully analyses economic models pursued by other countries, specifically Asian economic policies which took a deliberate pursuit of export oriented industrialization and trade by broadening their industrial structure in order to raise their competitiveness. In this era of cut throat competition, Africa should therefore review and solve the challenges impeding strategic trade policies. The author carefully discusses these, especially with regard to promoting project development opportunities which are inclined to profit making and higher return on investment, providing capital security mechanisms that will in turn encourage capital migration and most of all developing a conducive business, political and social environment that attracts and retains investment.
“Economic diversification holds great potential to increase Africa’s resilience and would contribute to achieving and sustaining long term economic growth and development in the continent. However, the expansion of activities in underdeveloped sectors like trade, or indeed the development of new activities, is a significant challenge and requires a combined effort by African governments, the private sector and the international community. Through his arguments in the book, the author demonstrates his commitment to help African economies reap the benefits of larger domestic markets through a focus on developing manufacturing industries. John Akhile appreciates that among the various factors which have the potential to drive economic diversification, a country’s natural resources are of critical importance. Many African countries are blessed with a diverse array of natural resources and Unleashed provides a blueprint through which additional value can be created from the resources mainly through focusing on developing export-oriented economies.
“The book also carefully points out the hindrances towards achieving the full potential of African economies particularly the suboptimal government management of resources and failure to maximize the gains from these resources to exploit other economic sectors. Their role in creating expanded markets for African products is particularly important for improved diversification in Africa, but this is complicated by market access issues and African capacity to take advantage of international business opportunities which the author urges concerned stakeholders to address.
“Whether in the government, private sector or academia, Unleashed offers invaluable insights on achieving Africa’s full economic potential. Progress has been made over the past few years, but a lot more needs to be done.”
—Mike Mina, International Affairs consultant and Managing Editor of IRIS Executive Magazine, an East African Business, Investment, and Management Magazine