Tigrai Online May 02, 2013
Always referred to as a hub to almost 85% of the World’s Natural resources. Africa indeed is a blessed continent among all continents and even by the time the West referred to it as a Dark Continent, they had not yet recognized its potential in terms of Natural resources not until the first test of the imperialists in 18th century.
Europe was willing to do anything including paying a heavy price as far as penetrating this Black and Dark continent was concerned and the first penetration saw the emergency of Colonialism,neo colonialism and finally imperialism which has in turn kept the continent in Dark up to today.
The interesting part about the African Continent is that, despite being blessed and endowed with natural resources in terms of land, green cover vegetation, diamond and oil among others, the Continent is endangered in terms of diseases, abject poverty, unemployment, malnutrition and many other hazards. We need to pose a simple question who should be blamed for all this? The answer would be Africans themselves!
Conventional knowledge is that the West is to blame for the Plunder of the continent by majority Africans during the Colonial period and the West’s role in using the World economic tools of World Bank and IMF to cripple the African countries in terms of development. As well as their involvement in sponsoring Civil Wars like for the case of Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia among others.
Africans are also to blame for all that is happening today because the Colonialists left all the way back in 1960s and paved way for the Africans to determine their fate in terms of development and growth. At independence, African Countries including Uganda were believed to have been at the same level of economic development with the so called Asian tigers of Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan.
Surprisingly, the same Countries experienced Colonialism just like African countries though the levels of exploitation differed in levels. How come that these countries were able to develop and reach where there are today compared to African Countries? It seems Africans failed to realize this due to failure to learn and experiment the relevant experiences from the above countries within their development context.
Its important to note that Africa for a long period of time has lacked an ideology that unites its people economically and politically. And also seems a deliberate effort by the African leaders to develop pro-poor policies but only remaining paper tigers with no implementation yet according to Lee Kuan Yew’s in his book from third world to first world, emphasis was put on building internal capacity of the locals by forcing multinationals to manufacture at home and building capacity through technical institutions.
Most post independence leaders and the current crop, still harbor the concept of being chiefs in small fiefdoms like when the idea of African Unity was introduced some African Leaders who had no hope like our good and former Ugandan President Milton Opposed the dream due to unwilling to sacrifice his presidential privileges at the expense of the so called African Unity.
Similar actions were of recent repeated by President Museveni of Uganda when the late Libyan Leader Muamar Gaddafi tried to revive the same dream of United States of Africa, Museveni and President Kagame instead opted for regional integration. Now the question, were America and Europe involved in such actions of sabotaging the African Dream again!
In the late 1980s and 1990s when the Meles Zenawi, Taylor and Museveni among others took over Power in Africa through liberation struggles, the West referred to them as “New Breed of Africans Leaders’. In fact just like Uganda many Africans elsewhere were excited because they had seen some light in these Leaders and everyone was referring to them as Revolutionaries.
These praises were short lived after when they decided to become puppets of the West, some of them like President Museveni and the late Meles Zenawi came as Marxists yet according to what happened later, they opted to change ideology to capitalism either due to the political survival at the height of the cold war. African leaders were forced by the conditions of the times to choose between political survival and regime change of which most opted for the painful crude reforms in the Structural adjustment programs of Privatization, Foreign Direct investment, liberalization, retrenchment among others,.
All these were carried out without proper Research of what impacts they would have on their people and the economies. Later on African economies underwent recession with key sectors like Agriculture being hit hard since subsidies had to be removed yet majority rural poor depended largely on it. Most of these Leaders were proved to be stooges of imperial powers, who were antiquates of the Struggle between the West and the East and had no African Continent at heart.
Countries that never fully embraced these Policies are now doing well such as Ghana, Botswana, Kenya and Mauritius among others.
Africa needs to learn from the past mistakes and what is happening in the Euro zones where Countries like Spain and Greece are economically crumbling. There is need to shape Africa into a better place for everyone to survive by our policy makers, history has shown that externally designed Policies and Systems can never develop any Country. Countries that refused to embrace the crude Policies of World bank and IMF, developed their own Policies like China and other Asian Tigers.
Having recognized that most African Countries erred either out of the extreme conditions imposed at the time, there is need for “a Paradigm Shift “in everything, beginning with Policies and Social economic set up of the economy moving from crude capitalism of corporate governments to social market economy.
For all this to happen there must be transformative leadership, which may not be the case with our current Leaders who are have returned the colonial state for regime survival,.
However the biggest hope is in the young people the youth who make up the biggest percentage of the African Population.
In the paradigm shift, there is need to create a situation where Development and progress can only be initiated from within and even when the help is to come from abroad, it should be in line with what African’s want for themselves and all Policies and Practices should be in line with this. Africa needs to delink itself from the Donors as means of learning to be independent because as long as Africa still gets aid from Washington and European Union, it will be kept in the Dark and can never progress to where it wants to be because the Donor conditionalities shall always prevail.
Finally Africa also needs to empower its Citizens so that they have Competitive advantage to compete in terms of skills, though it may require to overhaul the Whole education System so that we shift from Job seeking to technical part which focuses on Job creation and innovation and this is possible because Africa, has the capacity to manufacture all the goods that linked with its competitive areas like agro processed products. Technology transfer is one of the key aspects in development as well taught from the Asian miracle.
Our Population of around 900 million people is just enough to sustain the internal consumption and other valuable markets in Asia and the West.
Athyei K Byamugisha. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The writer is a Researcher and Policy Analyst with Pan African Movement Global Institutions Chapter.