The Real African|| By Dumani Mandela
There is more hope now in the development of Africa more than ever before in any time in our current history. Africa is becoming more dynamic and beginning to chart its own development path.
Seven of the worlds top ten fastest growing economics are in Africa with the continent growing at 4.5% in 2016 according to IMF. The seven African countries are Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Senegal, Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, and Central African Republic. The World Bank calculates that Africa received capital flows of $87 billion in 2014 an increase of 65% and notes that the region is being recognized as an investment destination.
In the new millennium Africa is beginning to deal constructively with the effects of neo colonialism on its markets and beginning to develop indigenous growth structures, which are propelling African nation states in an upward trajectory towards global market normalization.
African nations are beginning to demand more preferable negotiation terms for global trade in order to foster a new continental self determination, founded on Pan African ideals. This is allowing the continent to be able to determine the grounds for its own manifest destiny.
Here are just a few of the reviews about ‘Africa rising’ story in the new millennium from some thought leaders around the world:
The Brookings Institute has the following to say about Africa:
“Africa is at a tipping point in 2016. Despite all the success the continent has achieved in recent years, new and old dangers—economic, political, and security-related—threaten to derail its progress. With sound policymaking, effective leadership, and enough foresight, however—Africa can meet and defeat these challenges as well as the many more to come”. The share of people in Africa living on less than $1.90 a day fell from 56 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2012. Since the mid- 1990s, life expectancy at birth has risen by 6.2 years, and the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under 5 fell 6 percentage points. Deaths from politically motivated violence has declined. Africa is urbanizing rapidly; in fact, faster than any other region except Asia”.
In an article by Eran Feinstein called Billionaire, he had the following to say about Africa for global investors:
“Astute international investors are finding promise in the African digital renaissance, where a decade of rapid economic growth is cause for consumer spending to exceed an estimated $1 trillion annually by 2020, according to Forbes. In Africa, the middle class is growing, populations are urbanizing, IT infrastructure is improving and cell phones and mobile payments are more widely used than in most of the world. All of this has combined into a recent technology startup boom that has international investors salivating for more”.
According to the African Magazine, ‘African Business’:
“Africa’s wealthy class is growing. In 2012 the region’s segment of high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) grew by 9.9%, the second-highest growth rate in the world after North America, and above the global average growth rate of 9.2%, according to the latest World Wealth Report by the consulting firm Capgemini. And as Africans become wealthier, brands are starting to eye the continent, which is becoming the new ‘goose that laid the golden egg’: in terms of business, it is really the time to start looking at the African Continent as part of our Modern Western Society”.
African states are developing their own institutions and Africa is developing its governance structures both at regional level and at continental level at the African Union.
The story of Africa is changing from nation states that were dependent foreign debt finance, to a continent with nation states with a sense of, “we can do it for ourselves”. In the book Emerging Africa, Kingley Chiedu Moghadu notes;
“It is true that Africa’s macroeconomic context today is probably better than it has ever been and that Africa will increasingly become a consumer of commodities – including its own – rather than merely exporting them”.
African states are beginning to ask for better terms for their resources in the development debate and also fostering a new age of equal participation for the African continent in the global market place.
Africa has a good story in the continental and global contexts in terms of trying to entrench indigenous growth strategies, which are inclusive. This is specific to African nations like Kenya which is becoming the tech giant in Africa with so many tech innovations, MPESA being one of a few just to mention.
The Business Daily article, Kenya’s technology firms attract investors’ billions, had this to say about Kenya’s tech boom:
“Kenyan entrepreneurs are defying recent trends to deepen their presence in the ICT industry — riding on the conviction that a second technology boom is looming with the potential of producing the country’s next generation of tech billionaires”.
This is not just a Kenyan story but also an African story with the continent beginning to develop new studies around its own innovations. Africa has also other surprise stories like the rapid development of telecoms companies in Rwanda for an example which was in civil war in just a couple of decades ago in 1990. In the research site Budde.com.au, it has the following to say about Rwanda’s telecoms industry:
“The Rwandan telecom sector has shown particularly strong growth in recent years, buttressed by a vibrant economy and a GDP, which has sustained growth of between 7% and 8% annually since 2008. As a result, the country is rapidly catching up with other markets in Africa, with increased penetration particularly evident in the internet and mobile sectors”.
Africa however still has a long way to go. Africa’s share of world trade is about 3% with less than 5% of global Foreign Direct Investment Flows (FDI). Another assessment from Kinglsley Chiedu Moghalu in Emerging Africa, states that the combined GDP that makes up the 54 countries that make up the continent was barely equal to that of India.
The GDP of the entire Sub Saharan Africa, including South Africa is equal to that of Belgium.
In 2010, 100 000 people in Africa accounted for 80% of Africa’s GDP. Clearly there is a need in Africa to spread the wealth it generates in order to meet the demands of change for its population of 900 million people. There must be holistic development, which encompasses human development as a reflection of the real quality of life for Africans.
Focusing on economic growth should translate into more jobs for its citizens and better education and healthcare. Africa needs indigenous growth model, which manufactures goods for its own markets and thereby create economic advantage. The market in Africa should not simply become a playground for globalization, but growth in Africa should be transformative.
African economic growth cannot be derived purely from economic growth in statistics and dependence on primary products but it should be a self-sufficient player based on indigenous growth. Deeper thinking about the continents place in the global market place is required, and what interventions can be made to fast track the African development paradigm.
Africa needs to develop a new worldview in the market place that is uniquely African. It is beginning to do that in the new Millennium. This worldview beyond Pan Africanism will constitute the thinking of all African nations about the development pre-requisites for Africa as a whole and not just each nation for their own, in the development global debate.
Africa’s new worldview should determine who is responsible for Africa’s future and who is not. It should determine exactly what is globalization in the African context and how the increasing interconnectedness of economies affects nation states in Africa and their sovereignty, commercial and financial flows.
The NEPAD document sets out Africa’s worldview to a certain extent and addresses some of the concerns around capital formations, but it is only a start. Africa needs to ensure it can protect its own gains with globalization.
The story of Africa rising will take place over the next couple of generations and even next hundred years to come. We are in the recent post colonial and post apartheid era in the formative era of the African story. We must be able to retain our intellectual capital in Africa whilst also being able to attract the assistance those from the diaspora whom live outside of Africa but were born on the continent.
The new millennium will be the story of unleashing the new African story based on the fundamentals of historical shared experiences of re defining our shared heritage. This new century will be an opportunity for Africa to rethink it place within history as it uses its indigenous knowledge systems and people, to mark it place in the global market place. Africa’s trajectory is set for greatness in this new millennium.
Africa was and is pushing through the vestiges of colonialism, slavery and apartheid with a new optimistic spirit that is being fueled by the youth of its nations. Africa at the present moment has one of the youngest populations in the world, and it is this youth that is driving the redefinition of the new African and demanding that the African be seen in a different light.
This youth is using the old spiritual and psychological lessons of their forefathers to demand that they as Africans be treated equally in the global market place, and they are contribution to lifting Africa out of it woes.