7 Things Africa Must Do to Secure a Brighter Future

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Article by: Peter Gatuna

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In The 4 Maps of Africa, I tried to cover in detailed summary the past 300 years of the African continent. Far from the “darkness” I expected to find, it was filled with world-class civilizations.

That is, before the slave wars ruined everything. We now know that the slave wars served the purpose of weakening the entire continent and actually made colonization possible.

Moving on from colonialism and slavery

And for a few decades, Africa was ruled for the first time in history by outsiders. The 1960-69 decade was a period of mass liberation across Africa. And by 1994, the whole of Africa was finally autonomous again.

We are now forging the future of the African continent. And for it to be truly prosperous, a few things must happen in Africa. In this article, I will highlight the conditions that we must meet to ensure a prosperous future for the continent.

A resolution to tribal conflicts

Tribal conflicts continue to burden many an African country. As we speak, Ethiopia is slowly being torn apart by tribal politics.

For as long as Africans continue to let their tribal heritage to be reduced to a political tool, the stability of the continent cannot be ensured.

Africa will be defined by finding a separation between Tribe and Politics the same way that Europe was defined by its decision to separate Church from State.

Regional economic zones

In the future, the world will continue to witness even more seamless commerce. The fact that I am wearing a watch imported from some store in London and it cost me less than 200 bob is full testament to that.

Unfortunately, inter-African trade is very limited. Even with e-commerce demolishing barriers to trade, African merchants have been slow on the uptake.

When I go on Facebook, I see an almost exclusively foreign parade of ads. I see European Universities, American Business Coaches, and the usual suspects – online trading platforms.

Kenyan businesses have been slow to adapt Social Media advertising, in spite of its proven effectiveness. Nearly everyone relies on organic traffic – to the detriment of their undiscovered customers. But I digress.

Regional economic zones facilitate inter-governmental trade. But it is up to African entrepreneurs to find the means to exploit the opportunities presented by bigger regional markets.

Diversification of economies

As of now, most African economies rely on Agricultural production and mineral exploitation to survive. But the subsistence farming practiced by locals makes it hard to react sufficiently to changing weather patterns.

Mineral exploitation in Africa, on the other hand, is marred by corruption and the misappropriation of funds.

In agriculture, value addition must be done to try and even out the balance of trade between Africa and the world. As for mining, we must boost the general economy, especially manufacturing, to increase local consumption of minerals.

Linking up with the diaspora

The diaspora of Africa is just as contentious as it is significant. With remittances of about $40 billion per year (pdf), contributions from the diaspora can be a very powerful jab when it comes to strengthening the economies of Africa.

But seeing as a big portion of Africans in the diaspora is made up of descendants of enslaved Africa, it is not just about the money.

The African diaspora is also an important cultural element of the continent. For example, the Caribbean Islands are the single biggest musical influence among African nations.

These linkages must be nurtured and harnessed to boost the cohesiveness of African peoples everywhere.

Technology use

Africa is rising from the degeneration of the slave wars era at the best possible time – during the technology age. In a way, technology can act as a magical wand, waving around to solve a mountain of problems facing us.

From mobile money increasing the banked rate in Kenya to futuristic projects like Ngaren Museum of Humanity that seek to revolutionize museums, technology is Africa’s best bet for the future.

With technology, the developmental gap between the world and Africa is not too big. It is very easy for Africa to use technology to reach and exceed the level of development in Europe and elsewhere in the current century.

Space travel

With the recent double-whammy of private galactic travel by Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, the space age has reached a new dimension. If it were not clear before, humankind has just unlocked its destiny to leave earth alive.

But the space industry in Africa is only at the naissance stage. A good number of African countries have already started their own space agencies, but only just.

For now, most African space agencies are little more than research agencies. And even though they don’t have the budgets that have allowed NASA and SpaceX to go to space, good progress is being made.

This fills me with hope that the African space gap will soon explode in groundbreaking discoveries to unlock intergalactic travel. The future is intergalactic, and there is no reason why Africa should not be a part of it.

Unity for the future

I have never been remotely offended by people who think that Africa is one country. They are not entirely wrong. Substitute country for nation, and that statement is 104% accurate.

This is not to say that we are all best friends from coast to shining coast. But Africans are united by a common past as well as a common destiny.

It is impossible for one African region to thrive in isolation. Soon enough, the neighbors will come a-knocking and send everything awry. South Africa is a perfect example of this reality.

Progress must be made by all – or it will be undone by the rest.