Over the past century, a number of narratives have been painted about Africa that, whether right or wrong, have contributed in no small measure to shaping the perception of the continent. Africa has been painted with narratives such as a child that is in dire need of development, an imminent threat, a rising economic power, a tinderbox of poverty, terrorism, forced migration, and deadly disease, and what have you. What some of the peddlers of these narratives have failed to do is to give Africa her full flowers and the due credit she deserves.
Despite the challenges Africa is facing, which are mostly a product of bad leadership, the continent still holds big promises for the future. For too long, the continent has remained a strategic plaything of world powers who see the continent as a conquered territory where resources – both human and natural, are warehoused for perpetual exploitation. As ugly as this situation is, only Africans can reverse it and reposition themselves in the eyes of the world.
It is rather ironic that Africa, which is the second largest continent on earth by landmass with all its immense resources, houses the highest number of poor people on the planet. The big question that arises here is; why are Africans poor despite being endowed with this wonderful land, sea, and shores? Well, the answer is leadership, Africa has not really got the right leadership ever since their colonial masters left them.
Over the last 5 or 6 decades, Africa has missed a lot of opportunities that could have ensured that she stamped her foot on the ground and made a bold statement. At independence, quite a number of African countries like Ghana and Egypt had higher per capita income than China, India, or Singapore. Today, one will wonder, what changed? What went wrong, the answer is simple – leadership.
Africa is a unique continent that has all the ingredients needed to become self-sufficient. Africa is a continent blessed with enviable sunshine, diamond, gold, landmass, river, and mineral resources in abundant quantities. There is no continent in the world that is developed that has not for one reason or the other in the past that has not come to Africa for raw materials. One will begin to wonder why Africa is still underdeveloped despite these potentials. Bad governance is the reason why Africa is on its knees scrambling for aid from the West despite being the only continent that has all it takes to survive and exist on its own.
The events of the last three years in the world have shown that today’s world is somewhat characterised by a formidable economic, social, cultural, and in some cases energy interdependence. The Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine face-off has shown the world that the worst mistake any continent can make is sacrificing its self-sufficiency for whatever reason and comfortably depending on others to feed, clothe, and provide energy for it. No matter the fine words you call it, this interdependence is dangerous, especially when you have no backup mechanism.
When the Coronavirus pandemic ravaged the world, countries and continents that were wise enough to have backup plans quickly shut their doors to the outside world and spent their resources on themselves and their citizens preventing hunger, starvation and fighting recession with the wealth they had amassed
However, what were developing countries in Africa doing? They were still exporting resources to these countries, pledging funds their citizens needed dearly to global causes and policies, showing once again, that the problem of Africa is its disposition towards sharing what it should be saving.
While the not-so-developed countries were all trying to help each other along, the western nations didn’t bat an eyelid before they hoarded all the medical equipment and skilled hands needed to handle the pandemic.
Do you blame them? Maybe you should. After all, they brought the gospel of globalization and sharing all you have with other nations while what they really wanted to do was rip Africa of its mineral resources, funds, skills, and everything that made the continent great.
African leaders, and indeed, citizens have allowed themselves to be convinced that Africa cannot survive without the financial aids coming from the western countries in exchange for their great mineral resources like petroleum products, gold, coal, or bronze.
But if Africa channeled these resources inwards, kept its brains and talents within the continent, and took technology and science seriously for a couple of years, the resultant effect would be a new, wealthy, and self-sufficient Africa that will become dependable, rather than dependent on other nations.
Africa can be a self-sufficient continent, but some things must be in place. First, all the resources, human, capital, and otherwise, should be channeled towards creating national and continental projects, such as building medical and technological hubs within the continent.
Effective policy execution is another way that Africa can create mind-blowing wealth without needing to take loans, receive handouts, and ask for debt cancellation on an international level.
The African continent is blessed with Arable land, a long list of mineral resources, and the skills to use them as they should be used. If the continent focused on producing food, leather, gold, petroleum resources, and the like within its region, sharing and trading across continental borders, and supporting individual countries to make the best of their natural deposits, the continent will become the next big thing.
Now, we must not forget people. Take a look at the top experts in every field at an international level and point one place where you wouldn’t find Africans. The continent must stop shipping off its brains and talents due to thoughts or promises of better pay or a better life. Such brains will be of inestimable value to the African continent if the leaders allowed themselves to see it.
If Africa can shut its ears and eyes toward conversations about foreign aid, the leaders won’t be as lazy as they are being right now; sitting down and resting assured that the rest of the world will take them along. Africa should be taking the rest of the world along and showing just how it is done.
If the continent focused on addressing issues that spring up at the grassroots and metamorphose into national and even continental challenges both on a political and a socio-economic level.
Once the African continent learns to look inward at its challenges and think up home-based and local solutions to its problems, rather than copying policies and solutions of other nations’ hook, line, and sinker, most of the continent’s travail will be a thing of the past.
Africa has since gained independence, but has the continent been allowed to truly be independent? Or has it been enslaved once again by treaties, agreements, global pledges, and the other gimmicks of the globalized world?
Africa needs to truly be independent and look inwards to its people, policies, potentials, and resources. Africa can be self-sufficient and even cater to the needs of other continents. The ability is within Africa, the resources are within Africa, and the decision to be great rests in the hands of Africa.