By Jeff Okoroafor
It was in December 5th 2013, it dawned on me that we no longer have great African heroes, individuals who in ten minutes could make the world pay attention. I keep asking myself since then, when will the next African HERO emerge and when will Africa catch up with the rest of the world? Couple of days after the death of Nelson Mandela, I began searching for who the next African hero would be. Basing my criteria on the philosophies that made Mandela, Nkuruma, Zik, Nyerere believe in Africa and in the long run, made them a force to be reckoned with. As I write this, I am yet to find that individual that can take the lead in Africa, given the present crop of leaders we have today.
What is it exactly, that can make Africa great? What can we say are the problems that Africa has and the matching solutions that can help fix them? Do we honestly believe that Africa can be made economically stable and infrastructural progressive by the intervention of the West, either through investment, loans or aides? Is Africa truly independent? And can Africans rise up to the demand, taking up the torch from their founding fathers and redefining the face of Africa? I can’t help but ask myself these questions every now and then. I have wondered, if the likes of Zik, Nkuruma, Nyerere, Mandela and many of Africa’s great men and women who have passed on, were to wake up today and see what Africa has become, how they will feel? What will they say about us and our generation?
The Africa I see around me today is one where the leaders run to the West for every little challenge, including the ones that they can handle themselves. An Africa where the many resources we have remains untapped. An Africa, where the leaders are more interested in using their power to oppress the common man in the street rather than using it to harness the perambulating pool of talents in the continent. The old don’t believe in Africa. The young don’t believe in themselves let alone in Africa…who then will save Africa -the West?
There are many struggles of emancipation that I never saw, only read about them. A good number of those struggles made us who are today. Those days have gone, new challenges faces us and like our founding fathers, we too must make a stand. In answering the question that formed my topic of discussion, I have identified few areas where Africa isn’t doing very well in and what we need to do in order to bring ourselves out of the dirty dungeon of retrogression.
1. The Media. African media are only interested in politics and politicians. Running after them and writing stories that interest them. They are not interested in articulating the visions and missions that can set Africa apart. They instead of sell the Africa’s vision and mission to the people of Africa and the global community, they sell the global community and their visions/missions to Africans.
2. African leaders strongly depend on friends of goodwill whose name they keep changing from time to time -donors, development partners, investment allies. As long as this continues, our journey to a great Africa is still very far.
3. Professors, scholars and even opinion leaders, write quality literatures, all of which have no connection to Africa or the African people, but mostly have an attachment to better lives in Europe and the West.
The few simple, yet most concrete solutions to the African problems, in my opinion are:
1. We must completely rid ourselves of these numerous donors with too many acronyms. We must say thanks and “bye bye” to DFID, World Bank, IMF and many others who have contributed and keep contributing to Africa. Turning away from them is one way to go. We also must immediately get to work in order to self-replace them by achieving financial stability.
2. Science and technology has brought an immeasurable level of development to many countries of the world today, Africa must not only embrace science and technology as a progressive partner for development, she must make it a new cultural partner. Technology affects the role that government plays in society in many ways. Governments must be technologically advanced because of the corporate and consumer needs that must be dictated especially with the use of advanced technology. Technological devices hold a vital positive role in how governments function and are formed across the world.
3. The growth of Africa lies within itself. Inter-African trade practice through an open market will revitalize the African economy and create new opportunities.
4. A reliable transport system is needed in Africa and the resources to make that happen is in abundance. Other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, mining and tourism also depend on transport. The revitalisation of the rail infrastructure across Africa will address the colonial spatial development, while at the same time, establish new networks between countries. Regional integration will depend, to a degree, on the harmonised transport infrastructure networks between and within countries
5. Africa must consider alternative means of energy generation. Africa is rich in renewable resources and could benefit from the increasing use of renewable energy, such as hydro-power (potential estimated around 1,750 TWh) and geo-thermal energy (estimated at 9,000 MW). Over 80% of the continent receives about 2000 kWh per square meter of solar resources per annum and a solar generating facility covering just 0.3% of North Africa could supply all the energy requirements of the European Union.
This is what we as Africans must do, going forward. I have no doubt that Africa can get it right if those in charge of its affairs wants to. Given the path we are headed today, am not sure they realize what’s needed to fix the crippling Continent of Africa. Our political leaders, traditional and religious leaders have all failed us. So we the young people have a decision to make, to walk in their path and forever get Africa to be re-colonized as suggested by Donald Trump, or prepare ourselves and take up the leadership mantle and save Africa. Our choice!
Jeff Okoroafor is a Public Affairs Analyst.