Africa’s Economic growth and the challenge of poverty
This is an opportunity for growth and sincere development - Most of the lands in Africa are virgin and the mineral resources untapped
The today Africa is certainly considered to be growing economically evidenced by calculated GDP advantage, infrastructure improvement and a voracious appetite for branded goods and services. This was a far cry about 20 years ago or more, when wars, complicated political systems and controversies of all sorts was Africa’s selling image. Today all that has changed, a case in Uganda is a pointer, where within the last 10 years life expectancy has gone up from 45 years to 55., Besides, the income per capita in most African countries has risen up by over 10% - This I believe are all commendable and has definitely necessitated the coming in of China with an overwhelming influence that continue to rattle previous ‘acclaimed’ masters of Africa’s geo-political economy.
In fact there seems to be another scramble for Africa but this time for economic reasons and commerce and not necessarily by colonialists. This is where China is gaining an upper hand.
The reality of Africa’s economic transformation
However, whether this economic growth has translated to wealth and eradicated a sizeable percentage of poverty among the ordinary Africans is debatable. Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, like many other African leaders believes that Uganda and African countries are doing well economically and soon his country will become a middle income country. He cited the presence of oil and mineral resources he hope to explore before the year 2020 as basis of his faith in the East African country economic independence and prosperity.
Statement like this has almost become a mantra of political campaign of endless promises as the presence of mineral resources has not translated to any visible wealth among many African countries rather a people oriented policy will suffice, this is where the challenges lies.
Although over 60% of African leaders share the same thinking of economic growth and a resource based prosperity with Yoweri Museveni, fact is; the people do not share these views.
African political elites, highly over paid and corrupt, their accomplice in public service across government institutions in Africa easily appreciate these rhetoric’s of rampant growth everywhere because they, unlike the impoverished are enjoying themselves with the lawlessness in governance and lack of shame to show responsibility to your people. When one government official could boast of 200 private homes, others continue to build without borders, very expensive houses, cars, they can afford most of what they want and can also take their children to expensive schools overseas – they make a mockery of the entire development story.
Considering feelers from most local and ordinary Ugandans, the development story you read in the papers is not beneficial to them. The poor are still starving and resources to employment are rare therefore the ''song'' of economic growth to them is a kind of mere rhetoric and I believe the same applies to other Sub-Saharan African countries.
Wasting Opportunities to sustain development
This is an opportunity for growth and sincere development - Most of the lands in Africa are virgin and the mineral resources untapped, whoever believes that Ghana will one day become and Oil exporting nation, now Uganda is also on the part of joining Oil exporting nations besides our rich and unexplored agricultural fields, Africa’s population is made up of over 60% young and active workforce willing to commit their energy to any gainful means of survival – this spells an immense opportunity the African leaders should stand up to their responsibility now the bells’ ringing even louder – When country like China could even see far beyond the story of oil and mineral resources and is investing heavily in Africa’s agricultural and light manufacturing that targets the bludgeoning population neglected by their own government, African leaders should stand in for their people and their environment and be responsible to the demands of time – then the economic growth story could become a reality, in the absence of that, their ubiquitous trip overseas for investment forums and requesting for loans is akin to ‘glorified fraud.’
Africa is the future food basket of the world and it will amaze you that even the African leaders and their elites and think-tanks do not know how much Africa is worth - There is still a lot of resources underground untapped – virtually the entire continent is still flowing with black gold, diamonds, gold and faunas yet to be reached – and with the growing youth population, the economic growth story will be overwhelming if pursued with sincerity and concern for motherland.
The China-Africa story and media perceptions
China is portrayed as Africa’s new friend because they have been able to see these opportunities and exploiting it, it is therefore not surprising that thousands of Chinese businessmen are now operating in most of Africa's cities and towns with new entrants reaping fortunes. Many are heavily engaged in service oriented commodities’ manufacturing like mobile telephony accessories, articles and household goods.
Another important factor in making real the Africa’s economic growth is managing its own image branding – It is sad to note that Africa, as huge as it is with all the potentials of youth and talents, has no media platform to market itself although some are making an attempt to break the jinx – the first support should come from its people. China set up their own media and started an English Channel on CCTV9, later, it was remodeled as CCTV News beaming on Satellite marketing and promoting the new China and what it is doing to eradicate poverty and remodel its society to attract investors, today there is CCTV News all over the world, marketing a positive China.
Perception is illusion, it all depends on which perspective the individual is taking his view from, some foreign media like BBC, CNN, and others still portray Africa as a basket case despite the rise of countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire even Tanzania and Botswana – this is simply malicious and disillusioned, however this is mere politics of media war fare and it behooves African leaders, its diplomats and diasporas to make good use of opportunities wherever available at all time to market their potentials, wealth and economic needs of its people.
The need to invest in Africa
Investment in Africa is still a golden opportunity and the earlier the Africans learnt to manage this singular blessings the better for the entire continent and its people.
When an African leader travels the world to promote and attract foreign investors, he should not fail to ask himself this simple questions, have I made provisions back home to accommodate and sustain these investments, how will it benefit my people and not a few elites enjoying the trappings of government while the majority are shut out in misery in the midst of plenty. In the absence of this simple test of conscience and humanity – we make a mockery of the whole development story and nobody will continue to take any African leader serious in all his travels and evangelism for foreign investment because development is like pregnancy, you can’t hide it.
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