May 13, 2020 in Economics

Future of Africa

Abstract

The research paper covers the future trends in Africa. It investigates the security issues both natural and human-made and how they can affect the present and future economy. It also examines the current economy of Africa and how such factors as innovations and technology can change it with time. Besides, it addresses the future of banking on the African continent. The paper also refers to the brain drain and what needs to be done in future to reduce it on the continent. The future demographic state of the African population will depend on the strategies that will be employed and the advantages and disadvantages of it having a high or low population. Furthermore, the paper discusses the culture and political stability which will be determined by African leaders. Finally, it investigates the impact of desertification and global warming issues on the future of Africa.

Introduction

In May 1963, African states came together and agreed to form an umbrella body which is currently known as the African Union. Its aim was to enhance the unity and solidarity across African nations, bring about cooperation between the states to improve the people's life standards and defend the sovereignty of African countries, their territorial integrity and independence. All this was done with the aim of bettering the future of African countries and their people. Looking at Africa today, it becomes clear that the union has been able to solve some of the issues slowly; however, it still drags behind in others. There are so many problems that require solutions, and for the future to be better there is a need for quick actions. The future of African economy seems bright since it is developing at a very high rate meaning the living standards of Africans will improve. However, it is sad to note that the gap between the wealthy and the have-nots is increasing rather than reducing. It is also alarming that there is a very high level of environmental degradation although this in an issue affecting many nations across the globe.

 

Security

Human safety is a critical agenda that needs serious attention in Africa. Security challenges currently faced by Africa are both natural and human-made. These security issues range from war and diseases to natural disasters. The recent case of diseases includes Ebola which affected the western African countries. In 2014, it was believed to have caused more than 4500 deaths with the most affected countries being Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The Ebola issue affected the country's economy negatively. Most visitors and investors moved from these countries and those intending to visit them aborted the journey. The effect is to be experienced even in future as most people will fear to settle in the said countries as the same or worse disease can strike again. Tourism is another sector that will be affected by this disease shortly. It will take time before tourists will agree to visit these countries. West African countries are not the only whose economy will be affected by the deadly diseases as the whole Africa is well known for the high rates of HIV/AIDS.

Attacks from militant extremists are another security issue that is affecting and will continue to affect the African economy significantly. In 2014, Jihadist extremists made a comeback in Chad and Mali and attacked United Nations' peacemakers. Furthermore, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 school girls in Nigeria, and the Central Africa suffers from civil war between civilian militants and Muslims rebels. In East Africa, Kenya is frequently under the attack by Al-Shabaab while Somalia has already been torn apart by Alshabab fighters. These are just a few examples of the extremist militants. Economies of the given countries have been affected significantly with investors moving to safer countries. For example, Gross Domestic Products of such countries as Somalia and Mali are already unstable, and only daring investors can invest in them. It seems like this problem will go a long way as ending a war is not a one day issue, and its effects are long-lasting. However, there is hope of stabilizing the security of African countries.

African Union (AU) has come up with African Standby Force (ASF) under a constitutive Act in Article 13 based on the agreement of five sub-regions of Africa which may help in restoring peace in African countries. The AFS has a right to get involved in the affairs of the states that are members of AU in extremely severe situations which include genocide, war, and crime against humanity. The force comprises of specialized units that are always ready for deployment with a short notice which includes police, civilians, and military. The ASF is mandated to support peaceful operations, preventing the spread of disputes among African states. It also deals with post-conflict disarmament and demobilization, humanitarian assistance to relieve the suffering of civilians in conflict areas, observation and monitoring missions and any other role assigned by the Security Council or the Assembly of Heads of States.The ASF is a sign that Africa is tired of wars and is willing to employ resources to end them. With support from the member countries, peace will be achieved in future making every corner of Africa a safe place for everyone.

Economy

Africa needs to be more dynamic to improve and use a chance for development in the future. Leaders of the world economic forum held in Cape Town, South Africa emphasized the need to make their countries create an enabling environment for private sectors as they are major contributors to the country’s economy. According to Moyo, the future of African economy will be driven by talents of its citizens. He says that there is a need for African countries to invest in education and skills as the near future of the country will depend on these skills. All these facts demonstrate how optimistic the African economy is likely to be in the future. Most African countries are currently trading with developed countries including America and China although most of them still struggle to balance between exports and imports. Most of these African countries export raw materials and import processed goods and technology. African nations should process their products before shipping to realize the balance of trade involving imports and exports. Besides, they should enhance their creativity and innovation skills to come up with the ways of making machinery in their countries as these are currently of high cost so that the number of goods imported will be reduced if produced in the local countries.

According to the rate at which Africans countries are embracing banking and technology, the economy is expected to develop further. Most of the banks have adopted credit cards and mobile phone banking which is a unique technology to its customers, a step that reduced congestion in banks and the waste of time as people line up to deposit and withdraw money. The method has probably been welcomed as it is a cheap and easy way to transfer money. All that a customer is needed to have is an account with the mobile phone service provider and a pin number to be able to carry out all cash transactions including paying for bills and even small activities such as paying bus fare. Banks have also collaborated with this method of money transfer in a way that one can withdraw money from the bank using the mobile phone account.

There are more innovations underway for the African countries as necessity is the mother of innovation. The banks and mobile money operators have come up with the ways that allow users to borrow and pay loans in the comfort of their homes. Although this is a bit risky, it has helped most people in different circumstances. It is also encouraging users to save as one must be a regular depositor in their mobile phone money accounts to qualify for these loans. The interest rates are higher than regular loans meaning the banks earn more from these borrowings contributing to the country's economy. These kinds of services are spreading all over Africa and are expected to reach out to more people in the future. The bankers have to be smart and innovative if they want to retain their customers by offering easy and straightforward ways of handling money. The ideas are also penetrating other banks around the world.

Brain Drain

Brain drain has been one of the most troubling issues in Africa as the countries lose their professionals to Europe and America with the health sector being the most affected one. The international organization for migration estimates that more than 300 000 professionals reside outside Africa with 20,000 leaving the continent every year. No African leader seems to be bothered with this fact, and no one is willing to talk about it or investigate the causes of migration. There is no strategy for any country to stop the brain drain. These professionals are supposed to be offering solutions to the African problems since Africa bears 24% of global burden of diseases. Africa employs only 25% of the available doctors and even loses the ones that it has trained. Therefore it remains with a crippled workforce and ill-equipped hospitals.

To enable African countries to try their best, they have to come up with working strategies. First, they need to improve the level of education in their countries to reach the standards of international education. This will allow those who have studied in the African countries to receive the same payments as those who have studied in other states. Another thing they need to do is to follow up on those who have been given scholarship by the government to go and study in other countries. The aim of these scholarships is to improve the services in the countries when these people return to the home country, so it does not make sense if these people stay in the countries where they have pursued studies. The African Union needs to come up with policies regulating the number of trained people moving from the country per year. This can be done by denying a visa to the trained personnel or giving only short term visas. Implementing the formulated strategies will see this trained individuals contribute positively to the African economy.

Demographic State

Most African countries are experiencing a very high rate of population growth due to the high birth rate and relatively low mortality rate as compared to previous years. Most of the population have characteristics of a significant number of youths below the age of 25 years meaning that the dependency ratio in most African states is high. The labor force ratio is smaller than the dependency ratio of the population. Some countries have elevated infant mortality but this is compensated by high fertility rate allowing the population to grow at a very high rate. Life expectancy is also very low, and for the past 50 years it has been the same in most countries. The large population has its advantages and disadvantages. If people can be fully engaged, it will lead to the economic growth of their respective countries. This means that most African countries will have sufficient workforce and there will be no need to outsource workers from other continents. However, if such kind of population is not well engaged and controlled, it will have negative effects like the increase of poverty levels which will in turn lead to social and behavior degradation.

Most African countries currently aim at reaching low fertility and low mortality rates. The realization of this goal will have some effect; the continent will first enjoy the benefit of having a large number of working population, but this will not last for long. The continent will be similar to the countries that have a greater number of elderly citizens than the young population. This is also a threat to the economy as it will require outsourcing human resources. Even though Africa is far from this situation, it needs to be careful in dealing with population reduction. It should consider strategies like controlling the birth rate with certain intervals so that for some time it will be campaigning for birth control methods while during other years it will stop to ensure balance in the future population. Some countries like Germany are currently suffering from this situation, and Africa should learn from their experience.

Culture

Considering the level at which the Africans are interacting with other continents, it is expected to have culture degradation. Even though African culture has been preserved for many years, it is weakening on a daily basis. Some Africans are starting to believe that their culture is not healthy and as a result are adopting foreign culture. Dressing has changed and is expected to change further with the new upcoming designs. Certain beliefs and practices are gradually being forgotten and soon will exist no more. However, some people and governments have a dedication and commitment to seeing the preservation of the positive African practices and cultures like dancing for future generation. Museums are among the places that ensure the preservation of culture and traditions. Losing the culture in some interior areas of Africa will also take many years or will never happen.

Political Stability

Dictatorship is characteristic of the most common African styles of leadership. Elections in some countries are used just for formality as the same leaders always manipulate them. In many cases this leads to civil wars as opponent leaders try to seek justice. The African Union does not address the issue of some presidents staying in power for over 20 years as this seems to be normal. The achievement of political stability will require efforts to abolish dictatorial leadership and embrace democracy. This move will give citizens a chance to be part of leadership and those opposing the government will be fewer as it will be "our government" as opposed to "your government." The leaders need to realize that a country is more important than the leader and should aim at protecting the legacy of a country rather than that of a leader. This kind of leadership is the main reason why corruption is a major issue in Africa as no one can question the ruling of the government.

Desertification and Global Warming

The problem of global warming is affecting the whole world. It is, however, affecting African countries to a greater extent probably because it is characteristic of the developing countries which are at the highest pick of industrialization. The industries are emitting greenhouse gases into the environment, which leads to depletion of ozone layer causing greenhouse effects. The available land is turning into the desert in Africa more than ever. The primary reason is due to the population growth as most people are turning to forests and wetlands for settlement. Governments should adopt strategies that will prevent clearing of vegetation and farming in wetlands. Irrigation should also be carried out cautiously as it may also lead to desertification. Nigeria is one of the African countries facing a high level of desertification. There is a gap between the formation of the policies and strategies for combating drought and desertification in the country making it hard to reduce it. Some approaches used by the affected countries like awareness programs, sustainable farming, alternative energy sources and tree planting are giving hope of reducing desertification in the future.

Conclusion

The future of Africa relies on the Africans themselves. The leaders are the biggest determinants of what Africa will be like in future and the rate at which it will develop. Every problem needs a strategy for it to be solved rather than just sitting and waiting for the nature to explain things. Even though the continent is on the right path in terms of the economic growth and development, it should be more prepared for natural calamities like floods and drought in future. It should also introduce strategies to harvest excess water during the rainy season and use it during the dry season. These plans will see the continent reach a level when food security will not be a problem.

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