An article giving an overview of economic, social and sustainable development in Africa along with optimistic predictions.
The political turmoil in African countries which we see today is quite different from the condition of the continent before 200 years ago. Since the arrival of Europeans on the shores and land of Africa, began the degradation of the primitive African culture. The social and economic network in between the native tribes was self-sustained and based on values. A SWOT analysis of present situation can us help in understanding the significance of culture in the sustainable development of Africa.
Africa finds its strengths in its endowments which it has been successful in retaining in spite of a sad recent past.
• Natural Resources: Africa is rich in oil, forests, minerals, diamonds, coal and metals. Its rain forests, rivers and deserts are unexploited to a great level. African tribesmen were experts in using these resources without destroying them. Bushmen (also known as San) tribe could able to survive for thousands of years in Kalahari desert where water is scarce.
• Tradition and Culture: The tradition and culture of Africa is extremely diverse due to number of tribes and ethical groups. This has lead to developed arts and crafts, music, languages and cuisine. These tribes were interconnected to each other through trade while villages forming the basic economic and social units. The human values and ethics have a lot to offer to the sustainable development of Africa.
• Global Perspective of Youth: It is not that the arrival of Europeans brought only degradation to Africa . They brought Christianity, modern health services and knowledge of the other world to them. But the basic economic and social units could not stand the pressure and dismantled in the chaos. Today, youth is quite concerned about the continent’s identity and despite of political turmoil and economic recession they are optimistic.
• Vision of United Africa: It would be wrong to call United Africa a mere vision as it is visible at international platforms that African countries are now standing together in favor of treaties which also encompasses the benefits of the developing countries. The foreign policy of African countries represents the foreign policy of the continent.
Due to blind race for economic resources, social values and environmental ethics were lost somewhere in the history. Onset of HIV/AIDS, terrorism and climate change has now opened the eyes of both the victims and offenders. The weakness of Africa is not its problems but in the ways of dealing with them.
• Internal conflicts: Internal conflicts in Somalia, Congo and Sierra Leone over resources and power has made Africa a victim of external pressures and terrorism. Looking at the number of killings daily and the continent’s exploitation by external entities gives no optimism. The unending conflicts have made the life of common people miserable.
• Poverty and Health Issues: Unending internal conflicts has made it almost impossible to carry on development in Africa. In between tribal wars, it becomes difficult to focus on creating jobs, introducing health improvement measures and providing education.
• Lack of Economic Growth: Africa’s share of economy is supported by travel industry and exports of raw material. But economic benefits do not reach the common people which increases poverty. Lack of industries and research in science and technology is attributed to very less number of educational institutions at primary and university level. Economic development of Africa is only possible through social development. Social development of Africa should be given a high priority.
• Forgetting the Roots: The culture of Africa is not well preserved and the younger generation in such a chaos is unable to accept the ethics and values which they find meaningless.
Opportunities in Africa are hidden but promising and are showing up in present and near future. The need of the hour now is not to miss them but nurture them to capitalize them to full.
• Strong Leadership: The promises that educated youth is offering are the only hope to rely upon. African countries need leaders who have a different perspective than what it has been till now. African youth are promising of better leadership and are taking steps to improve situation in Africa by following sustainable development practices.
• Global Support: Opportunities in Africa are now recognized in global scene. Investment is slow but steady. Africa’s voice is now heard and the collective voice of United Africa has the power to turn the tide in their favor. Developing countries like India and China are now offering help to African countries in the form of technology and economic investments. The internal conflicts are now being raised as an issue at global level and the false measures of developed countries are being questioned.For development of Africa in health and education, grants are being provided by many countries and international organizations.
• Retaining Values and Ethics: History of Africa is rich and amazing. African culture and tradition need to be restored and valued. “By knowing ones own history, one learns to value others”, said US President Barack Obama in his book, ‘Dreams From My Father’.
With so many promising strengths and opportunities in Africa, it may have to face some threats which the continent will have to bravely encounter to keep its door open to more development opportunities.
• Terrorism: With the downfall of terrorism in Middle-East, it is quite possible that the terrorists and terrorist leaders will find a safe haven in Africa. It will be necessary to stop them in the beginning. Africa is already dealing with internal terrorism and it may not have strength to deal with external powers as well. The solution lies in diplomacy.
• Non-sustainable Development Practices: Although development of Africa is an urgent requirement, but it is necessary to keep check of unethical and non-sustainable development practices. They may destroy environment. It is necessary to exploit resources sustainably keeping in view the demands of future generations.
• Exploitation by Developed Countries: It is a hidden threat, developed countries might try to exploit resources and raw materials seeing the situation in Africa. It is necessary for the continent to develop technology and research so that its resources are used for its own sustainable development.
• Brain Drain: Brain Drain is said to occur when talent of one country goes to other countries where more opportunities are available. Situation in Africa for well educated youth is less attractive so it is possible that they might go to developed countries for good salary and better lifestyle. So, it becomes the responsibility of the governments to reverse this process by properly rewarding the educated people for their services to the nation and the continent and accelerating the development of Africa.
It is most important to have hope and optimism in the development of Africa. It is not easy to accept such a situation in Africa when it is known for the origin of Homosapiens andworld’s first civilizations. If 21st century belongs to Asia, it is no doubt that 22nd century will belong to Africa.