Africa in 2016: Prospects and Forecasts

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The fundamental purpose of many philosophies, sciences, teachings,  and traditional religions, is “to teach a man to fish” To teach a man/woman to use the tools available to them, to provide for themselves.  Africa is a paradox; it has had arguably, one of the oldest and most successful civilizations in history.  Let’s face facts, if the truth be told.

Women had a place in society thousands of years before other continents.  There were more or less, egalitarian societies, where hard work was seen as a virtue and where wisdom and age were rewarded and respected.  Yet today most of Africa lives like those who have forgotten their past.  Hence why we latch on to anything thrown our way, especially if it has a foreign face, whether it be garbage or not.

Many African countries live in a state of mediocrity, chaos, religious fundamentalism, both Muslim and Christian, violence, upheaval, bad leadership, corruption and mass poverty.

At an event called Africa in 2016: Prospects, Forecasts and Overviews, at School os Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), there were mixed views on the predictions for Africa in 2016 moving forwards, though the panel generally agreed that things may be positive, if the continent takes advantage of the opportunities, it has.

It was noted that Africa faces shrinking budgets, especially with the drop in oil prices, and the slow down in China.  However this is mainly an issue because most African countries have failed to diversify their economies seen in Angola, Nigeria and most other African  countries.

With corruption, mismanagement, poor infrastructure, power and a lack of maintenance culture, security problems, religious fundamentalism, both Christian and Muslim, a general lack of investment in the continent, amongst others, things do not look particularly good.

If the internal issues on the continent are not enough, it was noted at the event that the Russians, the Chinese, Americans and the Japanese have all set up military bases on the continent.  Obviously they are protecting their own home governments vested interests.

Congo has the greatest mineral deposits in the world, of any one country, so we can see who the winners and losers are in this and why African resources and not its people are strategically important to the West.

With the driving down the price of oil including the gulf states flooding the market with cheap oil and the USA which drastically reduced its imports of oil from African countries and gas, the trouble in Russia and the Kiev states, have all led to bleak days for Africa.

However in many ways this is a good thing for the continent, as it puts into focus the urgency of the need for Africa to become self-determining and seize its over reliance on the West and Asia.  For example, by investing in other sectors such as education, agriculture/food security, regional integration, technology and security and looking inward to solve some of its problems, we may see some improvements in general, though, this will take time.

The continent contributes so little in terms of research and development, it’s a mass consumer and really needs to take off industrially, as India, the Asian Tigers, Vietnam, Indonesia and China have taken off and ended so much poverty within the Asian continent. It will force African countries to find a way of fixing its economies.

Lets face facts, Africa’s crisis, has traditionally created incredible wealth for the West, from slavery to colonialism. Now the West takes advantage of the turmoil within the continent to enrich itself.  Loan conditionality from the IMF is a case in point, the interest paid on them and wealth from minerals such as diamonds, bauxite, and oil, to name a few.

Africa rise, if resource driven, is artificial and not as a result of onward, outward growth in any sectors of its economies.  Most African countries currencies reserves and exports depend on oil or other natural resources.

This will only lead to deeper poverty levels for the majority of its citizens and the return to the dark and savage days of slavery, albeit in different forms, which is already happening, if we are willing to tell ourselves the truth.

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