|Thomas Sankara - President Burkina Faso 1983 -1987|
“No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” These are words David Livingstone spoke when he observed what was to later be named the Victoria Falls.
Africa is massive and magnificent, from the lush Serengeti teaming with wildlife, to the dense forests of the Congo, from the deserts of Namib, to the Papyrus of the Okavango Delta. The wonders that one sees in Africa are innumerate, uncountable and strangely unknown.
Three times more people visit the Eiffel tower in Paris annually than Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia. This is despite it being the largest waterfall in the world and it offering the largest sheet of falling water in the world. It is roughly twice the size of the Niagara Falls.
I could go on and on about the Nile, Lake Tanganyika, Mount Kenya, The Limpopo, the Table Mountains, the Sahara Desert, The Congo River and in most instances, I would be ill equipped to offer any advise on how to adequately and easily access these sites.
It is no wonder that the most visited tourists attractions in the world have a budget that rivals most African countries annual tourism budget. For example Central Park, New York City, which is featured in as many blockbuster romantic comedies, as can be remembered, has an annual budget of more than $ 38 million[i], more than the combined tourism budgets of countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, which truth be told have exponentially much more to offer than this wonderful park.
Africa has around 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, roughly 60 percent of the global total.[ii]
Most of the land under farming is cultivated using outdated technologies and techniques that perpetually produce low yield. More than 70% of the land depends on rain not irrigation. This is despite the changing weather patterns that we have become accustomed to across Africa.
The outcome is we have more people in Africa that are hungry, [iii]exactly one in four.
Another statistic of interest; more than 30% of the food produced around the world including Africa is wasted. That is enough food to alleviate hunger. The most prominent cause of food wastage in Africa is the immature transport and distribution system we have. 64% of Mango produced in Kenya is wastage due to poor storage and packaging. In Nigeria less than 1% of fruits are processed or exported, most of it is eaten raw or rots away.
South Africa is one of the world’s top exporters of citrus, lime and oranges to the Northern Hemisphere. It only consumes 9% of its produces and exports the rest, which allows the farmers to make billions of dollars annually.
|South Africa fruit industry|
Behind the success of South Africa is logistics.[iv] An efficient and up-to date South African railway system, use of Information Technology to enable the electronic processing of all documentation, advanced packaging standards, continual innovation in technology, products and methods and efficiency at South African ports through decongestion and a comprehensive shipping strategy, are some of the suggestion of making South African even more competitive.
In this one paragraph is enough insight to ensure that the food issue in Africa is resolved resoundingly and for us not only to feed our continent but also to feed the whole world.
If we don’t, exploitation will set into play. Multinationals have began to lease large tracts of land in Madagascar, Mozambique and Cameroon and they do maximize their profits at no benefit to the local populations.
The other sobering fact is that we have more than 52 cities in Africa that have more than 1 million environs. Despite this the collective GDP of Africa is potentially equal to that of Brazil.
Brazil is currently experiencing wide spread upheaval as more than a million people took to the streets in the summer of 2013 demanding better public investment and improved public services on the onset of the World Cup 2014.
The inequality in the Brazilian society is such that it has more dollar billionaires than all other South American countries combined with high levels of corruption that cost Brazil more than $ 41 billion annually.
Africa sees the same problems, but due to the diverse borders that separate countries that were colonized by different western powers, an invisible boundary separates Francophone Africa from, Portuguese and Anglo Africa. And through this the loss due to lack of proper public investment, poor public services and corruption are astronomical by any standard.
In fact the Corruption Perception index[v] published by Transparency International which placed Brazil at a modest 69 ranking out of 178 countries. Places countries like Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, Chad, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Democratic republic of Congo and Equitorial Guinea at the bottom of their ranking. Please note that some of these are the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of mineral resources; Somalia included. UNDP estimates that corruption costs Africa $148 billion annually.
Africa has one of the youngest populations in the world, with more than 200 million between the ages of 15 – 24. This could potentially be an asset or a risk to the individual African countries.[vi] Employment has to be created, and adequate employment to ensure that as more youth are educated, they are not idle or stuck in a desperate position where they have no source of income.
The situation in Nigeria where a recruitment drive by the Nigeria Immigration Service, turned tragic due to the high unemployment rate in the country and the desperation by the populace to find willful employment is something that could potentially be a reality across Africa.
Is there any linkage between that and the discord in Northern Nigeria, the deep-rooted nature in which Boko Haram seems to be growing, or the situation in Somalia with Al-Shabaab, the Mungiki in Kenya or the Julius Malema thought pattern in South Africa?
Does it have any linkage to the high crime rates in South Africa?
Only time will tell, but if governments don’t collectively handle this situations proactively, we may be sitting on a time bomb, and with the interconnected nature of the global economy, there is no longer room for a pacifist stance by any country in the world that could offer a solution.
In conclusion, I would like to mention that most of the African governments do know the current situation afflicting them. But there is need to look East, at the decisive steps that countries like South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore took to change their situations as opposed to listening to the lopsided democratic speech of the Western world that have taken centuries to go through French revolutions, American Civil wars and two world wars to arrive at an ill effective European Union and deeply divided Republican and Democrat state, which are both highly wasteful and ready to grind to a halt at any moment.
Africa we need to arise and determine our own future, we can borrow from the East, like Japan and China did from the West in the 19th and 20th Century after a long period of Isolation, for us its after a long period of exploitation.
Africa are you courageous enough to stop the curse or are you content in languishing in this cesspool of mediocrity? To achieve this we may need more Thomas Sankaras[vii] in every sphere of our economy, people who are fearless, uncompromising in their principles and honorable.
“It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.”