There is no doubt that the potential of our African continent is enormous. For Africa, this has been the same old song and the same old chorus sung to the same old tune. Whether this potential will translate to a radical new paradigm of economic vitality and realism is am mystery that cannot be reasoned away.
Despite the numerous minerals and resources in Africa, it is regrettable that the continent has failed to harness her resources in order to fulfill her development agenda. Sadly, the wealth of Africa fails to serve it; Africa remains a drag to the rest of the world on many levels – including on the social, political and economic fronts. Africa has stagnated in matters of socio-economic and political development mainly because the current political lords and the founding mothers and fathers of the modern day Africa fundamentally failed to locate Africa beyond attaining political independence from the former colonial masters.
The African continent has an annual GDP of possibly more than $2 trillion. The potential of the continent cannot be overstated as growth figures outline a positive economic trajectory. By 2050, Africa’s economy is expected to be close to 10 times bigger than it is today. If such growth is realised, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that most Africans would be snatched from the jaws of dire poverty and introduced to prosperity.
But, sadly, the average African country, exhilarated by the euphoria of independence and largely oblivious of the unfinished developmental agenda of sustainable community and economic development, quickly plummeted down into repression, decadence, mismanagement and socio-political decay. Thus, after gaining independence, construction of the national identity using newly acquired powers soon faded like a distant drum.
That is why it is imperative for Africa to locate itself beyond political independence. Without effective economic and political regional integration, Africa will not carry adequate weight and substance in this globalised world, no matter how much potential we may have. The things that will propel and affirm Africa on the global stage are sound economic and industrial policies, rationality, and internal solidarity.
Africa’s political system is not in a good state. Bad laws are being passed. Tribalism and nepotism in politics and factional discord have become the order of the day, suppressing appropriate, informed discourse. Politics has become reactionary and a point scoring coverage on national television.
Africa needs to shift the way it functions to a system that better represents the composition of Africa. We need a radical change to our political systems, which are not credible, serve special interests and not us and are full of fraudulent career politicians who are standing in the way of a long-standing solution. It is a system that endorses and makes a success of liars, cheats and those prepared to do deals with big business, even if it is at a tremendous cost to the general populace.
Continuous reliance on foreign aid has, in many ways, reduced our outlook as Africans. It has helped to instill a sense of inadequacy and inability in governments that rule over us. Our own leaders have turned us more into beggars than empowered citizens. That is perhaps why most African countries continue on the downward spiral to socio-economic decay.
Despite the amount of money that foreign governments continue to inject to fund projects in Africa, our countries continue to get worse and worse. The younger generation has to come to the rescue. Surely, we cannot just sit, watch and suffer the disability caused by our elders who are out of touch with current situations.
A trans-generational paradigm shift in our mentality as Africans is called for here; especially among today’s youths. The younger generation cannot continue to accept itself as beggars in their own land like our grandparents did when they succumbed to colonialists.
Africa has not failed to develop economically because of our former colonisers. We, as Africans, have failed to take advantage of our knowledge, abilities, wealth and natural resources to make a clear distinction between us and former masters. We were offered and we accepted foreign aid for things we could do on our own and we continued to become dependent.
Africa is rich in natural resources but our resources seem worthless to us unless we sell them to other nations. We have got it all but we are spending it faster than those who buy from us. Our problem is that our presidents consider national wealth as their own personal wealth and DR Congo, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, among many, are doing Africa’s development a great disfavour.
Truth be told, Africa does not need aid to develop, but it needs honest people who do not divert aid and the nation’s natural resources into their personal pockets.
Sooner or later, Africa’s younger generation will have to stomp their feet and tell the old lads that enough is enough. They are wasting everything in such unthinking ways that our children will not know the greatness of this continent. Development should not and will not be donor-driven and neither will it come without us, the Africans, driving our own development agenda.
Africa has reached a spot where this is no longer time to experiment with neophytes, or those who only covet the exalted positions in the country without the capacity to cope with its challenges. The youth of today across Africa need to foster good will on the continent and we are already behind schedule. Beyond politics, we must address policy because that is what will elevate Africa on the global stage.