Author Interview: Felix N'ZUE

Author Interview: Felix N'ZUE

Book: Rethinking Africa’s Development

Who are you, in a few lines?

I hold a Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University (USA). I am currently a faculty of the Department of Economics and Management at the “Université Félix Houphouet Boigny Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire”. I am a visiting scholar at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and in charge of Research, Knowledge Management and Economic Policy Analysis. My research interest encompasses development economics with special focus on factors affecting economic performance i.e. fiscal policy, climate change, investment, human capital, energy, migration, trade, etc.

A perfect day starts with...? And ends with...?

A perfect day starts with thirty minutes browsing the internet looking for new publications on development issues with focus on Africa. A perfect day ends with the identification of a research question which will be put in my research topics repository.

Could you tell us how you started writing?

As a researcher, writing is part of our regular activities. Indeed, we observe on a continuous basis the way policies are designed, adopted, implemented and evaluated. In so doing, many questions come to mind. Many of these questions are research questions since they do not have evident answers.

Do you think that the writer has a special role in our society?

Yes, the writer has a special role in our society. The writer is a mind-opener. From his observations and analysis he helps our society better understand what is at stake. What the challenges are and what opportunities could result from these challenges. He also explains reasons behind policy failures and recommends better policies and better ways to implement these policies.

Your latest book is "Rethinking Africa’s Development". What is the message you want to convey to the readers?

The message is a simple one. The reason why past development paradigms did not succeed in lifting African countries from poverty and underdevelopment is because these paradigms did not consider a key factor or concept which I call the Common Good. If African countries identify and agree on their Common Good and decide to take the necessary actions to nurture and protect this Common Good, poverty and underdevelopment will be no more.

Africa is closely watched as the next big growth market. What are the principal determinants of growth? What would be the steps towards Africa's development?

The principal determinant of growth in Africa is investment. The concept of investment here is multidimensional. Indeed, for Africa to grow and develop there is need to invest in human capital development (quality education and health), invest in building strong institutions, invest in quality infrastructures (transport and ICT), invest in security and invest in leadership capabilities. In terms of steps the first one is lifelong civic education, lifelong civic service and lifelong skills development. This enable the citizenry to identify, appreciate the Common Good and undertake activities that ensure prosperity of the Common Good. The second step has to do with building quality and strong institutions. Indeed, good citizens (who have come out of step one) put in place institutions that safeguard the rights of individuals as well as the right of the group, community or country. In other words, strong institutions safeguard the Common Good. The third step has to do with peace and security. Without peace and security, there is no development. Skills developed in step one and strong institutions built in step two can be put to proper use only in a peaceful and secure environment. Hence, the need for strong security. Then comes leadership which is both at the beginning and at the end. Good leadership provides visionary guidance and a good leader set himself as a role model.

What does Africa mean to you?

Africa means everything to me. Africa is blessed with incommensurable riches and people living in Africa need not suffer as it is currently the case. To halt the suffering of Africans, there is need to consider development policies differently. It is neither a matter of colonization nor that of regime type (democracy). It is a simple matter of mindset that needs to be changed. The best way to achieve it is to implement the steps I indicated which evolve around the Common Good.

How was the publishing experience like? Describe Generis Publishing in a few words.

This has been a wonderful publishing experience. Generis Publishing = speed publication with a special touch of professionalism.