Africa’s must-do, can-do decade

Sunday Express - - LEADER -

SINCE 2000 the con­ti­nent of Africa has recorded im­pres­sive rates of eco­nomic growth. This re­mark­able per­for­mance has been largely driven by the pro­longed com­mod­ity boom and devel­op­ment as­sis­tance. While the con­ti­nent shows great di­ver­sity in the so­cioe­co­nomic tra­jec­to­ries of its coun­tries, growth rates have gen­er­ally masked an un­der­ly­ing lack of struc­tural trans­for­ma­tion, which is needed to achieve so­cially in­clu­sive and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able devel­op­ment.

Wher­ever in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion has oc­curred, it has been a re­li­able force in steer­ing eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and has con­trib­uted to de­vel­op­ing, strength­en­ing, and up­hold­ing the frame­work con­di­tions for com­pet­i­tive eco­nomic growth and devel­op­ment.

Over sev­eral decades, some de­vel­op­ing coun­tries — mainly in Asia — have been able to in­dus­tri­al­ize. De­spite re­peated at­tempts, Africa has not. If we look at the shares of global man­u­fac­tur­ing value added for 2014, we see that the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion’s share was 44.6 per­cent, whereas Africa’s share was just 1.6 per­cent. Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa is still the world’s least in­dus­tri­al­ized re­gion, with only one coun­try, South Africa, be­ing con­sid­ered in­dus­tri­al­ized.

African coun­tries can­not achieve sus­tain­able devel­op­ment with­out an eco­nomic struc­tural trans­for­ma­tion. They seek to change the struc­tures of their economies by sub­stan­tially in­creas­ing the shares of in­dus­try — espe­cially man­u­fac­tur­ing — in na­tional in­vest­ments, na­tional out­put, and trade.

African coun­tries re­al­ize that they must un­dergo this struc­tural trans­for­ma­tion in or­der to ad­dress a range of in­ter­con­nected chal­lenges.

One of th­ese is the growth of the pop­u­la­tion. More than half of the con­ti­nent’s 1.2 bil­lion-strong pop­u­la­tion is un­der the age of 19, and al­most one in five are be­tween 15 and 24 years old. Each year, 12 mil­lion new work­ers join the la­bor force. The con­ti­nent’s young peo­ple need the tools and skills to take their lives into their own hands. In­dus­tri­al­iza­tion is the key to en­sur­ing that the con­ti­nent’s fast-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion yields a de­mo­graphic div­i­dend.

An­other as­so­ci­ated chal­lenge is mi­gra­tion. Many of Africa’s most am­bi­tious and en­trepreneuri­ally minded young peo­ple feel com­pelled to join mi­gra­tion flows to the North. No coun­try can af­ford to lose this po­ten­tial. Mi­gra­tion re­mains a com­plex is­sue, but in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion can ad­dress one of the root causes by cre­at­ing jobs in the coun­tries of ori­gin.

In ad­di­tion, the threat posed by cli­mate change hangs heav­ily over coun­tries where agri­cul­ture re­mains the pri­mary em­ployer. Africa needs to ap­ply and de­velop green tech­nolo­gies and chan­nel in­vest­ments into re­source ef­fi­ciency and clean en­ergy. Th­ese in­vest­ments can lower the cost of bring­ing power to ru­ral ar­eas, while con­tribut­ing to global ef­forts to mit­i­gate cli­mate change.

Africa must in­dus­tri­al­ize, and it must do so in a so­cially in­clu­sive and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able man­ner.

Pre­vi­ous ef­forts to foster sus­tain­able eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion in Africa have failed, and the need for a new ap­proach is clear. What is needed now is a broad­based and coun­try-owned process that lever­ages fi­nan­cial and non-fi­nan­cial re­sources, pro­motes re­gional in­te­gra­tion,

Con­tin­ues on Page 9. . .

IN its part­ner­ship with the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) for the dis­sem­i­na­tion of elec­tion ed­u­ca­tion, the Devel­op­ment for Peace Ed­u­ca­tion (DPE) held a se­ries of work­shops on the theme of “Lo­cal Govern­ment and the Cul­ture of Peace” cov­er­ing its al­lo­cated coun­cils in the Berea and Leribe dis­tricts. The tar­gets of, and par­tic­i­pants in, th­ese ini­tia­tives were DPE elec­tion ed­u­ca­tors team leader, the chiefs and se­lected sec­ondary schools’ teach­ers; as well as reg­u­lar (po­lit­i­cal) phone-in ra­dio talk show call­ers and opin­ion shapers of all known ra­dio sta­tions.

This was done cog­nizant of the fact that par­tic­i­pa­tion in elec­tions whether lo­cal or gen­eral had re­mained low de­spite multi-pronged, multi-stake­holder ef­forts to re­verse this trend, and there was need to en­thuse large sections of the pop­u­la­tion to own their govern­ment by par­tic­i­pa­tion in its for­ma­tion or birth through a pop­u­lar choice.

This in turn would lend the govern­ment the nec­es­sary in­tegrity in the face of the var­i­ous con­tend­ing in­ter­ests mak­ing de­mands of ei­ther ser­vice or pro­tec­tion, con­ces­sions or re­stric­tions from the govern­ment. This propo­si­tion con­trasts starkly with the ob­tain­ing sce­nar­ios where the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­lace would seem to have taken an “exit” from the pub­lic af­fairs or mat­ters of the state and gover­nance, and con­sider th­ese as ar­eas for in­dulging in con­flict and fric­tion. All in­volved in th­ese work­shops in the end ex­pressed their ap­pre­ci­a­tion of their am­ple op­por­tu­nity, fea­si­bil­ity, and po­ten­tial ease of re­claim­ing their cit­i­zen­ship at lo­cal level through par­tic­i­pa­tion in lo­cal govern­ment; where ev­ery­body knows ev­ery­body in close com­mu­ni­ties, their his­tory, con­nec­tions, and so­cial and an­ti­so­cial traits, and all cat­e­gories of achieve­ments – and those given man­date of run­ning com­mu­nity af­fairs are easy to mon­i­tor, ad­vise or cen­sure. Hold­ing peo­ple thus elected ac­count­able, it was agreed, would ul­ti­mately elim­i­nate fre­quently oc­cur­ring con­flicts, and re­pro­duce the cul­ture of peace for which Ba­sotho were known from the times of Moshoeshoe.

The cul­ture of peace was de­fined as avoid­ance of vi­o­lence in all its forms and man­i­fes­ta­tions, and elim­i­na­tion of con­flict by tack­ling the root causes, not merely its oc­cur­rence. The var­i­ous forms of vi­o­la­tion were can­vassed, in­clud­ing physical, gen­der, cul­tural, po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic; to­gether with their con­tex­tu­al­i­sa­tion and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and the chal­lenges of the chang­ing times and so­cial struc­ture. The em­i­nent el­e­ments of the cul­ture of peace enu­mer­ated as (1) tol­er­ance as op­posed to con­fronta­tion; (2) equal­ity of all per­sons re­gard­less of their state of abil­ity, gen­der, eco­nomic and other sta­tus; (3) co­op­er­a­tion and un­der­stand­ing in­stead of con­flict; (4)seek­ing of friend­ship and part­ner­ship as op­posed to cre­ation of en­e­mies; ( 5)har­mo­nious co­ex­is­tence with na­ture in­stead of its self­ish ex­ploita­tion; (6) re­spect for hu­man rights in con­trast to wan­ton dis­re­gard of such rights; (7)peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of con­flicts through di­a­logue in­stead of re­sort to war; (8) par­tic­i­pa­tory demo­cratic gover­nance as op­posed to dic­ta­tor­ship and un­ac­count­able rule.

Mem­bers of each of th­ese cat­e­gories were briefed on their spe­cific im­por­tance for which they were in­cluded in the ac­tiv­ity, and the in­stru­men­tal­ity of their role in pro­mot­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in lo­cal govern­ment (elec­tions) as a ve­hi­cle for build­ing lo­cal peace.

From the out­set the reg­u­lar-caller “opin­ion lead­ers” were ex­cited to get to know one an­other through meet­ing phys­i­cally, hail­ing from the dif­fer­ent dis­tricts of the coun­try. They in­cluded both men (in ma­jor­ity) and women. They said this fact alone cre­ated or added to an urge of mu­tual ac­com­mo­da­tion and acceptance of one an­other as “rivals” fol­lowed by size­able com­mu­ni­ties of loyal lis­ten­ers of com­pet­ing po­lit­i­cal iden­ti­ties/par­ties and in­de­pen­dents. Many of them were not meet­ing for the first time, since the or­gan­is­ers had em­ployed the strat­a­gem of bring­ing them to­gether in this fashion in its two pre­vi­ous cam­paigns of pub­lic aware­ness and opin­ion sur­vey ac­tiv­i­ties un­der the tags of “The Govern­ment I want” ( started in Au­gust 2015), and “The Le­sotho I Want” (started in Jan­uary 2016). They were urged to reg­u­larise the need for par­tic­i­pa­tion in lo­cal elec­tions in their pub­lic-de­bate in­ter­ven­tions through ra­dio, and preach the phi­los­o­phy of tol­er­ance; build­ing upon the bud­ding cul­ture where as par­tic­i­pants in this call­ers’ fo­rum had be­gun to wear their dif­fer­ent (po­lit­i­cal) iden­ti­ties with­out be­ing en­slaved by them as in­stru­ments of an­i­mos- ity and con­flict. They pledged to up­hold the cul­ture of peace in pop­u­lar­is­ing their var­i­ous par­ties’ plat­forms and high­light­ing the im­por­tance of lo­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion. The teach­ers and their schools were cho­sen as partners in a voter turnout drive through com­pe­ti­tions for pupil to get their par­ents and guardians to votes, prize de­bates on im­por­tance of lo­cal govern­ment; and for their uni­ver­sally recog­nised role as agents of so­cial­i­sa­tion – in that be­half ca­pa­ble of plant­ing last­ing mes­sages on im­pres­sion­able minds, hence the im­por­tance of hav­ing them on the peace cul­ture train.

The chiefs were in­cluded for their role as tra­di­tional au­thor­i­ties and in that ca­pac­ity the first peace of­fi­cers in terms of na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion norms and law, and for their non-par­ti­san, uni­fy­ing as per­ma­nently present me­di­a­tors of com­mu­nity re­la­tions at var­i­ous lev­els and in var­i­ous forms. While teach­ers protested that they were not al­lowed to take part in party pol­i­tics whereas they were ex­pected to teach about it, the chiefs of­ten com­plained that their re­spectabil­ity in com­mu­nity, and some said even said in the eye of the min­is­te­rial au­thor­i­ties, had faded or de­clined since the ar­rival of lo­cal govern­ment as it was tac­itly taken to re­place them. For their part, the chiefs were mo­ti­vated with a re­ward for a chief whose Elec­toral Di­vi­sion scored the high­est rate of voter turnout. The ses­sions were ac­com­pa­nied by drama per­for­mances high­light­ing lo­cal govern­ment re­sourc­ing, in­tegrity, and ef­fi­ciency.

Th­ese work­ing gath­er­ings brought out the ever-present dis­af­fec­tion with the con­tin­u­ing pow­er­less­ness of the peo­ple’s elected coun­cils, their re­source star­va­tion, fric­tion be­tween the tra­di­tional au­thor­i­ties and the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the coun­cils and the cen­tral govern­ment, the im­po­si­tion of anti-peo­ple can­di­dates by the main po­lit­i­cal par­ties, and the self­willed na­ture of coun­cil­lors; the use of coun­cil­lor sta­tus for self-ag­gran­dis­e­ment in­clud­ing abuse and de­ser­tion of com­mu­ni­ties – where some coun­cil­lors ac­tu­ally out-mi­grated to places more in keep­ing with their new sta­tus. An ex­cit­ing re­def­i­ni­tion of the re­la­tion­ship of th­ese tiers and cat­e­gories that emerged from the call­ers’ fo­rum was that the coun­cil­lor should be viewed as a de­vel­oper (mont­lafatsi), the chief as the ruler ( mobusi) and the Govern­ment as bene­fac­tor ( mo­fani oa mat­lotlo) – where the Govern­ment is ob­li­gated by call of duty and na­tional ac­count­abil­ity to en­able lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties

Con­tin­ues on Page 9. . . OMRADES, there is no true so­cial rev­o­lu­tion with­out the lib­er­a­tion of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a so­ci­ety where half the peo­ple are held in si­lence. I hear the roar of women’s si­lence. I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their re­volt.”

— Thomas Sankara, the late Burk­in­abé mil­i­tary cap­tain, Marx­ist rev­o­lu­tion­ary, pan-African­ist and Pres­i­dent of Burk­ina Faso from 1983 to 1987.

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