Friday, October 23, 2009

Africa: One Billion & Counting

Some time before the end of this year, somewhere on the mother continent, the billionth African will be born.
It is remarkable in itself that the population of Africa has breached the critical 1 000 000 000 mark. In spite of the chillingly brutal history of slavery, colonialism, racism and the other atrocities of mass destruction that have been unleashed upon Africans for centuries, we have not only survived in our own continent but continue to show extraordinary resilience even in the most challenging and culturally inhospitable regions of the globe.
The dynamics of Africa’s population growth suggest that her portion of the global population will continue to increase going forward.
It is estimated that by 2050, the population of Africa would have surpassed those of India and China.
Such an expectation is bound to present a number of interesting scenarios.

First scenario

1) Economic growth across the continent continues to gain momentum. The quality of infrastructure, education, health care and other leading indicators continue to improve across many parts of the continent. Democracy, political stability and the rule of law are entrenched. Africa’s share of global trade and investments begin to accelerate lifting millions of Africans out of poverty. Africa at peace with itself and with the global village. A sustainable trajectory of prosperity is established.
The growing population and prosperity leads to a formidable African market.
More FDIs and businesses set up in Africa leading to more prosperity across Africa.
Africa finally at her best.

Second scenario

2) Majority of African countries keeps to the status quo. The rate of economic growth and development across the continent is virtually at par with the rate of growth of the population leading to stagnation in human development and standard of living. Education and health care and other social services are at best mediocre for the growing population. A cycle of under-performance becomes the order of the day.
Africa barely surviving.

Third scenario

3) Economic and political mismanagement worsens across Africa. Economic growth and development falls drastically below the rate of growth of the population. Poverty, unemployment, instability and conflicts worsen. Infrastructure, education, health care and other essential services in total disarray. Africa’s share of trade and investment declines further throwing millions of Africans into debilitating poverty. Unemployment, lack of essential skills, instability and conflicts worsen.
Capital flight, brain drain, unfavourable climatic pattern intensify worsening agriculture leading to dire economic and social situation in many places.
Africa on the ropes.

The way forward

Let African countries as a matter of urgency relax the unfriendly laws and regulations that hinder intra-African trade and investment and quicken integration within the various regional economic blocs. The fragmented markets as they pertain today will never on their own unlock the tremendous synergies available that could be realised in a market with a 1000 000 000 consumers.
May the birth of the billionth African bring a billion answers to Africa’s developmental challenges.
Long Live the African dream!
Long Live Africa!

6 comments:

Myne Whitman said...

Interesting scenarios, I'll go with the first one...

posekyere said...

Yes certainly, MW.
I think you are a great optimist.
And I really admire that.
Thanks MW!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a billion Africans in existence. It's strangely reassuring.

I bet you though that special babe is born in the land of Nigeria.

We would achieve scenario one, albeit slowly. I still believe in Africa and we are becoming more and more aware each day.

And two billion eyes with which to view the world can only increase that enlightenment.

posekyere said...

Sure, Anon.
The probability of the special baby being a Nigerian is pretty significant-around 14%(if my statistics inference is correct).
The number game is in our favour-from quatitative to qualitative transformation- if we are able to pull our markets together.

Scenario one is pretty optimistic though. It will take some time for most of Africa to finally say: Eureka!

Denise said...

Interesting post Posekyere. I too will shed my skepticism and go for Scenario 1. So much potential abounds on the continent. Its time we woke up and had our 'aha' moment for a change.

posekyere said...

Yes, Denise.
So much potential and yet so much short-sightedness or even blindness.
We seem oblivious of our collective wealth. We are always looking for salvation from some greener pastures elsewhere.
We have more than what it takes to prosper. If only we would open our eyes and see.