In the face of all the turmoil and misunderstanding that continues to plague African institutions, sometimes described as not conducive for high quality investment, Africa, with its high population density, continues to inspire renewed optimism. In this light, the decade that is beginning, 2020-2030, which will see the closing of the Sustainable Development Goals’ Agenda 2030, could serve as a springboard for reversing slow economic growth caused by the global economic recovery that began in 2010. Although the future is uncertain, the trends that will determine Africa’s future prospects exist and are perceptible today. According to forecasts and available information, these prospects will be built around a comprehensive momentum for a wide range of developments, sufficient to ensure steady progress in the coming years.
On the demographic boom: increase in the young population
Africa’s economic development trends for the decade 2020-2030 are the result of the fulfillment of a wide range of contingencies. Existing data suggests that over the next ten years, Africa will have every chance to achieve its ambition of creating a dynamic, diversified and competitive economic zone. By aligning itself around hosting and mentoring young people who will grow with the ongoing digital transformation, the continent will be able to take concrete advantage of the demographic dividend.
Better than the statistics collected in other continents, Africa’s population could reach unsuspected proportions in the long term. Looking at the statistics for the next decade, the projected growth of Africa’s child population will require an increase of more than 11 million skilled education and health workers. Only then will it be possible, according to a new UNICEF report, to observe an increase in the continent’s unprecedented demographic transition. The report, entitled, Generation 2030 Africa 2.0: “Investing in Children to benefit from the Demographic Dividend”, provides clear figures relating to how the African population will increase in the next 10 years. The young population, constituting a workforce that will be instrumental in the development and transformation of fragile and vulnerable African economies, is already playing its full role in a country such as Nigeria, the continent’s leading economic power, which alone currently accounts for 20% of all births in Africa and 5% of the world total. These figures can easily be reached since the same United Nations report shows that between 2015 and 2030, Africa will experience a 33% increase in the primary school age population, from 189 million to 251 million.
Rebuilding the education system
It can never be over emphasized that African education systems are steeped in multiple legacies and external influence. Almost all of them emanating from the colonial legacies which pretend to teach the specifics and history of the continent. In the absence of satisfactory criteria for drawing up a list of the great figures of education in Africa, it would be appropriate to analyze the major trends that have marked the debate on education at different points in time, as Masengesho Kamuzinzi points out in his book “From the Classroom Community to Globalized Systems: The Evolution of African Education Systems”.
Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, agrees with him, “(…) if Africa transforms its education systems, (…) it will be able to reap faster, deeper and long-term dividends for its demographic transition”.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 is also in line with this, since it advocates the idea of an Africa with a strong cultural identity, a common heritage, shared values and ethics that are rooted in pan-African curricula and cultural goods in its fifth aspiration. African languages should be the basis for administration and integration.
In conclusion, therefore, it is clear that there will be a need to fully embrace the West and Central Africa Sustainable Development Goal 4; Education 2030 Program, which recognizes the need for strong regional collaboration, cooperation and monitoring in support of national educational development. Entitled SDG4-Education 2030 “Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all”, this program must take into account the development contexts and aspirations of these two African regions, in synergy with the Eastern and Southern African regions.
Promoting access to the Internet for Africans
In the era of new information and communication technologies, it would be inconceivable to foresee economic development without reference to the Internet. In this light, various agencies, such as World Bank Data, advocate encouraging and promoting openness to the Internet. For the 2020-2030 decade, it would therefore be clearly a question of the continent being able to improve on the figures gathered during the previous decade. To achieve this, Africa, which since 2017 has just over 281 million Internet users, or an Internet access rate of 23.4%, according to Internet Live Stats, should be able to double, if not triple, the number of Internet users over the coming decade.
According to the World Bank, African countries that are at the top positions, with the best Internet access rates, such as Morocco (62%), the Seychelles (59%), Cape Verde (57%) and South Africa (56%), should increase their objectives in this area. Even if more than half of the population in these countries is already connected, it is still possible to do better. According to World Bank figures, the four countries at the bottom of the scale with the lowest Internet access rates are the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau (4 per cent), Somalia (2 per cent) and Eritrea (1 per cent).
According to the World Mobile Operators Association (GSMA) 2019 report on Sub-Saharan Africa, if in 2018, mobile technologies and services generated 8.6% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP, creating an added value of more than 144 million dollars, then it is more than necessary to consider the Internet as a source of wealth creation. This is all the more comforting given that by 2025, more than 167 million new subscribers are expected to be added worldwide, almost all of them in five African countries: Nigeria, Ethiopia, DRC, Tanzania and Kenya. Imagine the economic impact on these countries.
Building on new resources and innovation
Since the Cop 21 held in Paris in 2015, concerns about environmental protection have increased. Following Jean-Marc Jancovici, a polytechnician and co-founding partner of Carbon 4, who is campaigning for the transition to a decarbonized economy and adaptation to climate change, the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative has reaffirmed its ambitions. Thus, the organization (Arei), which held its board of directors meeting during the first African Renewable Energy Forum in Guinea, has set forecasts for the production of 10 gigawatts of clean energy before 2020 and 300 gigawatts by 2030. Led by the Guinean president, Alpha Condé, the initiative intends to accelerate the exploitation of solar, wind and hydraulic power in order to achieve full autonomy by 2030.
With regard to innovations, three main technological regimes will have a serious impact on Africa’s transformation in the coming decades; agricultural biotechnology, health and health innovation systems and new energy technologies; particularly low-carbon and climate-friendly technologies.
The emergence of new African leaders
To make Africa’s economic development efficient for the 2020-2030 decade, the continent will need new leaders, who are exclusively concerned with the development of the majority and not with preserving the achievements of certain minorities as has been the case in the past. Beyond the emergence of isolated personalities, Africa will therefore need to see the emergence of new communities of leaders, capable of taking it beyond the threshold of modernity and prosperity. In this particular case, the birth of new schools and leadership training on the continent is more than salutary. Like the founding fathers, Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso), Ahmed Sékou Touré (Guinea), Modibo Keita (Mali) and Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), who laid the foundations for the real development of the continent, they quickly took on the difficult task of finding a favorable outcome from which the black continent could play a leading role on the international scene.
Divided into three classes, politicians, business leaders and intellectual elites, who with the help of social networks that have become a means of communication that did not exist 20 years ago in Africa, this new generation has many personalities who are capable of taking up several challenges to build a better Africa. These personalities are asserting themselves as those of the fragmentation of space, history and knowledge, the rebuilding of the postcolonial State, the promotion of genuine democracy and human rights and the establishment of new conditions of peace and freedom, the guarantee of sustainable development. They include Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, Julius Malema and Lindidiwe Mazibuko of South Africa, Ousmane Sonko of Senegal, Proscovia Oromait of Uganda, who was only 19 years old in 2012 when she became the world’s youngest member of parliament, and Nelson Chamisa of Zimbabwe.
In addition to the political elites, there is also the emergence of African intellectual elites who want to participate in the completion of the emancipation of the continent through the birth of a decolonized African thought. Among these are the Ghanaian Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Senegalese Ousmane Bachir Diagne and Felwine Sarr, the Cameroonians Achille Mbembe and Jean-Godefroy Bidima, the Zimbabwean Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, the Togolese Kako Nubukpo and the Franco-Cameroonian Léonora Mianoet and Franco-Congolese Nadia Yala Kisukidi. Businessmen, company managers also participate in this class of new leaders whose contribution to complete the emergence of the continent cannot be denied. The Nigerian Aliko Dangote, the richest man on the continent, is a good symbol in this category.
For all these personalities, “there is/will be no prosperity without a dynamic, diversified and truly competitive policy based on excellence, transparency and commitment to the public good”.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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