What hope is there for the African child?

The African continent has for centuries been labeled the dark continent. Not only because of the colour of her inhabitants’ skins but also because the continent still gropes in the dark- in backwardness and underdevelopment. For decades the continent has remained stagnant, wallowing in extreme poverty, lack and deprivation while other continents have taken giant strides in development. In spite of the fact that the continent boasts of abundant mineral and human resources, there is practically nothing to indicate the existence of these resources in areas of physical and infrastructural development and technological advancement.

For decades, Africans were led to believe that abundance of mineral resources would inevitably lead to wealth and development. Unfortunately, mineral and human resources only signify potential wealth; and potential wealth will always remain potential as long as they are not properly harnessed and geared towards the achievement of specific goals. Little wonder that DR Congo, the nation with the greatest potential wealth in the world, valued at $24 trillion is also one of its poorest. Such scenario is prevalent all over the continent — Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan to mention a few nations whose destinies have been shortchanged by a combination of poor leadership, greed and corruption. It is saddening that the vast human and mineral resources in African nations remain yet to be harnessed. Thus ensuring that citizens continue to wallow in the most extreme forms of poverty imaginable, albeit in the midst of overflowing wealth.

In addition, the African continent continues to lag far behind other continents in the knowledge and information technology race. It is estimated that internet use in the continent is estimated at 26/100 inhabitants, against 74/100 inhabitants in developed nations. This obviously does not bode well for the continent’s future as the IT gap will further be extended. The continent’s massive population of over a billion people, with an estimated 40% currently below 15, will continue to suffer deprivation of facilities that are now regarded as necessities in a modern world except drastic actions are taken to stem this tide. Unfortunately, there seems to be no solution in sight as the continent’s leaders are more concerned with perpetuating themselves and their cronies in power and looting the treasury blind, rather than tackle the problems facing the continent.

These children’s futures might have been mortgaged already

It is also quite unfortunate that the continent’s ‘superpowers’ have failed to lead other nations by example. Nigeria still grapples with getting her political leadership right while her once fast growing economy has since slowed down after a near collapse of the finance sector after the global crisis of the previous decade. The South African political leadership scene has been far from encouraging with series of controversies trailing the ruling African National Congress although the nation’s economy has consistently maintained a positive outlook. North of the Sahara, dust is yet to fully settle in the Egyptian political and constitutional scenes after the uprising/upheavals of 2011. To lead the continent out of the woods, Africa’s largest three economies must get their acts together and encourage other fledglings like Rwanda, Botswana and Angola.
 In addition, there is a need to focus on the development of institutions instead of personalities. There is a need to shift the focus from individuals and personalities to structures and institutions. Without strong institutions the continent will continue to lag behind and remain underdeveloped. No nation has ever attained development without viable institutions. There is also an urgent need to bridge the information and communication gap between Africa and other continents through conscious, innovative efforts aimed at encouraging the use of technology especially among the continent’s youths.

The battle before Africa is one that the current generation cannot afford to lose. To win this battle, the continent’s political leadership needs to settle down to the art of good governance and look beyond exploiting and pilfering the commonwealth. The continent’s leadership needs to look beyond extraction of mineral resources as the major source of income and concentrate on developing capable manpower and strong institutions. If the continent’s current leadership gets it acts right soon enough, then the African continent might yet be saved from impending doom.

This article was originally published at blogger.com in April 2012.

Originally published at blaqeagle.blogspot.de on April 30, 2016.

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