Africa: Leadership and Developmental Priorities

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Experts have argued that Africa has at least 200 billion dollars sustainable development investment potentials. Arguably, developments and poverty eradication in Africa have witnessed some progress in the last 60 years. According to the UNO, poverty has been reduced worldwide from about 40% to fewer than 20% in the last 30 years. While many countries in the world have made significant progress in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, living standard, etc. the majority of African countries with their different unique histories, still battle many unique challenges. Sadly, significant developmental achievement is barely visible in many African countries. Presently, over 40% of people living in sub-Saharan Africa are still battling with absolute poverty. Amongst those African countries, which are blessed with natural resources, extreme inequalities between their rich and poor citizens are still a cause for concern.

In 1820, the salary of an average European worker was about three times that of the average African, yet the same European worker would earn twenty times what the average African earns today. Yes, the GDP per capita income in Africa has increased significantly, unfortunately, compare with other parts of the world, the African GDP increase is still much less. From more than $500 billion, which Africa has received from the West in the form of direct aid, a greater percentage of this money has found itself in private accounts stocked up in the same Western countries where the financial aid comes from. Sadly, rather than investing in medical care, education, pensions, industries, etc. another part of the aid, goes to misplaced investment priorities like weapons and defence, with little or no income or developmental results. Worse still, some African countries, ironically buy weapons from the same Western aid donors. The investment in defence often gives rise to conflicts, including long-standing civil wars, which result in economic and social destruction. A case in point is Sierra Leone and Liberia, still bleeding from the economic hemorrhaging of the civil war, despite the huge natural resources the countries have. One needs not mention the Somalia debacle.

More often than not, after the avoidable destructions due to the senseless war, the same African countries would award contracts to construction companies owned by Western aid donor governments to rebuild the shattered infrastructure. A vicious circle you would say, wouldn`t you? Often, in a weak democratic setting, where free and fair elections are a utopia, leaders who owe nothing to their electorates or those who attach more importance to family relationships than national identity, usually institutionalize corruption, nepotism, and mismanagement as a political norm. This seems to explain why some think that African problems are caused by Africans themselves

In a nutshell, Africa still has a long way to go, especially,  in the areas of leadership and developmental priorities, having in mind that the continent has the potential to make a big difference. At the same time, Africa is not a wasted continent. Yes, the continent is battling with problems, but Africa is not in economic slumber. According to the World Bank, 17 of the 50 improved economies in 2013 are from Africa. Equally, the GDP growth in Africa in the last decade is at five percent average. Improved democratic reforms, better governance, macroeconomic management, expanding regional markets, etc. have amongst other factors, contributed immensely towards this economic growth. But Africa must not relax in jubilation. There are still many economic challenges ahead; the road towards economic powerhouse is far. Africa must equally embark on serious long-term transformational reforms aimed at redressing its unexplored or poorly-managed resources.

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