Often times we Africans in the Diaspora ask ourselves why are we here. Often we concede it is because of the sacrifices our parents made for us to have a better life, better education, or economically sound future. In reality we are reflections of our communities. We may have pondered over African writers, politicians, and musicians as a means of clasping onto our culture, but we have an obligation to return such privileges. The ability to eat three meals a day, live comfortably on our own, or wake up knowing that your family is not displaced and in the midst of darkness as war rages on. These are the tranquilities of living abroad, however the future of Africa is a reflection of us.
I believe the leaders of the future have the ability to see past the current state of the world and envision the necessary changes of the future. However, I think the future of Africa lies in the hands of Africans in the Diaspora and our ability to mentor our fellow Africans to be self sustainable and economically viable. While revolutions are often started from within, as Africans in the Diaspora we are privileged to understand the African culture while analyzing the traditional and theoretical aspects of the continent. It is our western education that allows us to question our culture while not disapproving it, and our heritage that offers such insight to transform the fate of Africa.
There are three immediate goals we must concentrate on improving for Africa to be competitive in the global market. First as Africans we must regain control of our economy. Africans are by nature entrepreneurial beings. We own in Africa what Hernando de Soto Polar would consider “dead capital”, whether it is the land we farm or the corner our kiosks reside on. To achieve the basic level of economic stability we must encourage Africans residing within the continent to own their own land. Africa is known for its mineral wealth, specifically diamonds and oil, however most Africans never see the profits of these sales. In most cases such minerals have caused more corruption, greed, and war. Hence the reason we must focus on developing and maintaining businesses that promote products beneficial to the local and intercontinental population of Africa. This is not to dismiss the positive effects of trade; we should continue to trade with each other and even the western world, but we must be adamant about fair trade policies and limit the production of export only goods.
As Africans we must understand that we are living in an impressionistic state of freedom; it is the difference between political and economic freedom. Our countries may no longer be subjected to western rule, but we unfortunately do not own our economy, thus we are stilled shackled by foreign capitalists in our countries. Most major businesses in African are currently owned by Indian and Chinese capitalists; with the backing of our governments. In 2008, Richard Behar noted in his Special Report: China Storms Africa the increase in China’s interest in Africa’s market after the government declared 2006 the “Year of Africa”. In a March 2008 article titled Africa’s Burgeoning Ties With China, IMF’s Finance and Development Magazine made an effort to quantify “China’s economic engagement with Africa”. Chatham House in 2008 published India’s Engagement with the African Indian Ocean Rim States, an effort by India to counter Chinas influence in Africa by strengthening its involvement in the African Indian Ocean Rim. A 2007 article by the Asia Times titled India Pushes People Power in Africa,
made the distinctions between India and China’s investment in Africa. China concentrates on resource-based investment, while India has focused on capacity-building. Indian investments are largely private-sector, riding on the back of the lines of credit given by the Indian government, says Indrani Bagchi in The Times of India.
While there are benefits to capitalism, mainly a competitive market, Africans have little to no chance of achieving such economic success. One could even argue that we are still struggling with our political freedom, specifically in countries like Sudan and Congo. Though, I would argue capitalism can exist in an African owned and produced society it is a business model of the past. I am increasingly observing an increase of cooperative based business models. It is this model that I believe Africans will thrive, especially in such agricultural settings as mass farming and production.
Our second immediate goal is to promote a “Green Africa”. This is perhaps the most attainable and economically viable of the three immediate goals. I make this argument because of Africa’s vast tropical and arid landscape. The options of a Green Africa are limitless, from the solar hydrogen process to the kinetic energy of water. A primary objective should be the use our natural resources to supply electricity to the citizens of Africa while providing incentives for environmentally conscious businesses. Such progress will increase local stability and present an infrastructure for technological advancement.
The third immediate goal we must focus on is education; I have assessed three specific areas of focus. First, Africans must adamantly enforce the education of women and girls. It is widely known that women are the most successful business owners in micro-lending projects. The education of women and girls are fundamental to the future of a democratic state, and a family’s financial stability. Second, we must promote preventative medicine, as a means of combating diseases and promoting good health in Africa. Third we must promote technological advancement to compete in a global and industrial market. We must have computers in our schools and workplaces, and encourage Africans to invest in the banking system as a means to stimulate the economy.
Last, but not least I would like to discuss the concept of elitism. Many may argue that my approach and analysis of Africa can be construed as that of a western educated elitist; however I believe there is a clear distinction between elitism and progressive input. I would argue that the methods I’ve outlined in achieving our three immediate goals are non-elitist approaches to tackling the basic issues currently facing Africa. We are not taking a colonialistic approach to these problems, but rather encouraging Africans within the continent to consider our education and intertwined customs as a basis for understanding the western and African markets, the pros and cons of such business and governmental models, and offering this knowledge as a means of encouraging self sustainability and economic freedom. While I believe we can offer financial backing to help support Africa’s infrastructure, our greatest impact will be the nonmonetary services we provide. In meeting these three immediate goals we will not have a perfect and unified Africa, but I believe we will have made significant strides towards a viable African economy. It is this belief, and the confidence I have in my Africans in the Diaspora that I ask us to take action towards a stronger freer Africa.