Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Africa Renaissance; A Far-Fetched Dream

The dawn of the 21st century and the first decade of the Millenium Period were touted as the period of time in which Africa was to strongly emerge as a new frontier for socio-economic development in the entire world. Quite a number of gains have been realized considering that recent economic growth for the continent stands at an average of 5% per annum. However, the realization of the African Dream is still far-fetched with regards to the various challenges and threats which continue to eclipse Africa.

The clamour for independence period in the late 1950s, 1960s and even 1970s ushered an era of hope with the independence leaders charting a clear path which their respective countries had to follow in order to make socio-political and socio-economic gains. Albeit a lot of optimism at independence, social, political and economic successes have been a pipe-dream.

We as Africans ought to realize that our fate and destiny as a continent is in our own hands. We’ve got the resources, but this is not commensurate with our development pace. This lack of commensurism begs a very simple question: where did the rain start beating us? Well, certain problems, majority of which are self-inflicted, have over the years dragged Africa behind. I have therefore encapsulated a good number of threats which have hand-cuffed Africa as a continent.

To begin with, nearly all countries in Africa are in dire need of good and effective governance. It’s not a surmise for me to opine that poor governance has subjugated us for so many decades. The hard fact is that the poor governance which has haunted us is self-inflicted.i.e. it has been propagated by ourselves  especially by our political leaders. Under the governance spectrum, three key issues need to be focused on. These issues are rampant corruption, weak institutions and poor leadership.

Corruption in Africa remains a major bottleneck as it stifles any form of progress. Sad enough, the corruption juggernaut has haunted Africa mark you since the time most African countries attained independence. This is a big shame and embarrassment to us because it depicts a clear lack of dire commitment to rise up and have a firm moral standing that is uncompromising. Through corruption, a lot of resources are channeled in the wrong direction and this often jeopardizes on the progress made. If the various African governments are not going to fight zealously against graft then we ought to forget about socio-economic and socio-political development.

Weak institutions across the African continent are also a feature of our governance systems and structures. Most nations in Africa establish several governance institutions but which are not strong enough.  Institutions such as anti-corruption institutions, security institutions,  administrative institutions and others need to be strengthened so as to be able to effectively carry out their mandate and other designated obligations. Therefore, to keep the African Dream on course, having strong governance institutions is inevitable.

Most importantly, our leadership in Africa is wanting. It is thus not a conjecture to explicitly state that our governance ails from poor leadership. It should be noted that good and effective governance is a function of good and strong leadership. We have had many development plans designed by most African governments but rarely have they been actualized. It is due to poor and wanting leadership that problems we are dealing with currently are similar to the ones we encountered at the era of independence as a continent. We gave democracy a try but unfortunately we still oscillate at the same point. The African people need to realize that they are the government and power belongs to the citizenry and this therefore necessitates the people to demand very high levels of transparency and accountability from their elected representatives.

Away from the issue on governance, an extensive threat to realization of the African Dream is food insecurity. Being food secure as a continent will catapult a more than automatic socio-economic development. Food security implies that we shall have reduced levels of malnutrition hence a healthier population, a surplus production thus boosting our export volumes, a significant reduction on the reliance on donors, establishment of related industries and most importantly creation of employment opportunities. The African governments need to come up with effective plans of action on agriculture that are elaborate.

In addition to the above threats and challenges on the renaissance of Africa, volatile political environments and insecurity continue to make the African Dream seem further. In our beloved continent, we have so many militia groups and more recently some terror groups. These groups are present in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda just to name but a few. It is common sense that run-away insecurity jeopardizes on economic progress as potential investors are scared away. The governments need to do more to combat such cases of insecurity. A spot-check across some African countries shows that leaders are taking matters insecurity to be business as usual. Personally, I believe that groups such as the Boko Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army,Al Shabaab etc could have been grounded as soon as they sprang if the leaders had been pro-active and also had they used a not-so-business-as-usual approach. Therefore, for Africa to enjoy massive investment in various sectors, fixing and tackling the insecurity menace is a must.

In conclusion, I believe that if Africa collectively improves on the areas of governance, food security and most importantly general security then definitely the 21st century will be the era of the African Renaissance. If these issues are fixed effectively, then positive change shall be witnessed in various areas and other key sectors. It is thus upon us as Africans to decide which way to go and which path to follow in our quest to actualize the African Dream.