Series - What future for Africa? Prospective of a continent endowed with wealth and battered by challenges
Pacifying Africa and thinking about sustainable development:
Diverse political systems, economies, and socio-cultural characteristics make Africa a territory to be conjugated in the plural. So how can we succeed in co-constructing the future of a continent with multiple faces?
The continent brings together countries with different economic models. Some are importers, others exporters of wealth. Moreover, it brings together on its territory very different religions, traditions and languages as well as plural political models of administration.
Dr Sall is a sociologist and director of the Institute for African Futures, he identifies three main challenges for building the Africa of future generations.
First, predatory policies must stop so that the African economy benefits local development first. Indeed, at present, Africa's economic model seems to benefit non-African forces in coalition with indigenous elites with opportunistic designs.
The continent will also face the challenge of maintaining peace on its territory as it remains a territory of violence as a whole. Wars are no longer predominantly between countries, but many civil wars remain that make the territory fertile for terrorist coalitions. The Sahel is one of the examples. This territory has been a source of strong security instability since the Mali War in 2012. According to the specialist, it seems fundamental to find ways to peacefully resolve the conflicts in its territory and to remain "at peace with itself". From then on, Africa will be able to find a place on the international scene by contributing to the construction of peace in the world.
Africa will also have to combine development and UN discourses. The imperatives of sustainable and inclusive economic growth are inevitably combined with those of social justice and environmental sustainability. The third challenge of the continent would therefore be, according to the specialist, the challenge of the sustainability of development models. Consequently, the growth objectives will have to be built around the principles of social and environmental sustainability.
According to Kako Nubukpo, macro-economist and former Togolese Minister of Foresight and Public Policy Evaluation, it seems necessary to co-construct policies, programs and projects with the population. Local development must be the priority and must include the participation of all citizens so that they can reappropriate the political field with confidence. In this perspective, citizen control must be at the center of the evaluation of public action.
"Unraveling the dissonant political discourse."
The issue of defending the general interest appears to be problematic at present. According to the economist, it is necessary to unravel the three levels of current dissonant political discourse.
The first level is the neo-liberal discourse of Bretton Woods instituted in 1944 to organize the world monetary system. Fiscal consolidation and price stability remain the common thread of Africa's economic policies. The International Monetary Fund has been the target of considerable criticism for several decades. For many observers, this pillar of the 1944 agreements is an instrument of submission of Third World countries which would slow down the development of these countries by allying them politically and economically to Western countries.
"African debts are illegitimate and illegal and should have been cancelled long before today". Broulaye Bagayoko
Some specialists also call for the cancellation of African debts. Broulaye Bagayoko, Permanent Secretary of the CADTM (Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt) Africa, considers African debts as "illegitimate and illegal w
hich should have been cancelled long before today".
In addition to this first discourse, there is the neo-mercantilist discourse, which is increasingly being adopted in Africa in the image of the Chinese model. The latter aims to apply aggressive export policies, low imports in order to obtain a high level of foreign exchange reserves towards a more efficient monetary policy. However, this model remains in contradiction with the UN discourse. Indeed, today, the Sustainable Development Goals are at the center of development policies of international cooperation. The issue of gender, the promotion of decent work and access to basic infrastructure are incompatible with the neo-liberal and neo-mercantilist policies currently applied in Africa. According to Kako Nubukpo, there is a major challenge to exploit future development models around a single discourse and to unwind the current dissonant discourse.
Building on African successes
Africa is experiencing flourishing economic success. For Togolese economist Kako Nubukpo, this is an opportunity to move beyond macroeconomic figures to the real economy and analyze the models of many countries with innovative development initiatives. This is the case of southern Africa as well as many islands (Mauritius, Cape Verde, Seychelles) but also some East African countries such as Kenya to name a few. These countries are showing an important endogenous dynamic centered on innovation, which can give impetus and irrigate the rest of the African economies.
The African continent is endowed with significant untapped resources. However, the territory spends nearly $35 billion a year importing foodstuffs such as rice, sugar and vegetable oil. At the same time, Africa has 60% of the world's undeveloped arable land. According to the African Development Bank, its import expenditures should be redistributed towards endogenous development. For its president, Akinwumi Adesina, "these 35 billion dollars should be kept on the continent [so that] young Africans [can] exploit them to create more wealth". In addition, the continent also creates between $50 and $100 billion in illicit financial flows. Africa therefore has the necessary resources on its soil to become a major power on the international market. The continent has the choice to focus its efforts on building a new development paradigm that favors local development while preserving environmental interests.
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