Key development challenges facing Africa
All over the world, countries are struggling to expand their economies and improve living standards. This struggle is particularly poignant in Africa, which has, for a long time, been mired in declining economic performance, rising unemployment, deteriorating national
infrastructure, inequality and increasing and abject poverty.
Persistent internal conflicts and strife as well as external aggression have forced the poorest region in the world to divert such proportions of its resources that the very survival of increasing numbers of African countries may be at risk. Without durable peace and the security of life and property both within and beyond national borders, it is not possible for citizens, economic actors and governments alike to plan and implement the necessary activities that are required so urgently to arrest the protracted decline and stagnation in the region.
Another problem facing Africa is the lack of political commitment and crisis of legitimacy largely due to the concentration of political and economic power as well as wealth in the hands of a small, privileged and entrenched political and economic elite. This scenario has bred mistrust and suspicion amongst the populace. The result is that people are unwilling to pool their resources together to build viable enterprises thereby constraining growth and expansion.
The lack of infrastructure and social capacity for development also hinder economic development and growth in Africa. Physical infrastructure including transport and communication facilities is either non-existent or decayed. People are not meaningfully involved in formulation and implementation of development plans. Consequently, they do not consider themselves as having a stake in the creation of wealth. This has, in turn, bred a culture of dependence where everybody fights for a piece of the shrinking national wealth instead of seeking to generate wealth.
Addressing the challenges
To address these issues effectively, there is an urgent need to focus on public economic policy and to uphold the virtues of a pluralistic society. The government must play its role and provide physical infrastructure, an effective legal and policy framework and the social capacity for development. It must ensure security and stability by mobilizing the citizenry and ensuring their effective involvement in the development process. This involvement must not be a mere illusion. People must feel that they have a real influence over the production and distribution of wealth. This will engender trust and encourage not just the consumption but also the creation of wealth.
It is important to note, however, that an enabling environment cannot be created by the government alone. Creating an enabling environment calls for the establishment of effective partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and civil society that will enhance the spirit of participatory development and increase citizen engagement in creating a secure and stable environment in which corporations can grow and thrive.