Africa: Agenda 2063 and globalisation
Conrad Gweru Correspondent
THE rise of Africa will not be possible without taking a great introspection into issues that limit the global competitiveness of the continent against powerhouses in the Western and Asian world.
Africa’s slow economic growth has been largely attributed to the unstable political and macro-economic environment, while less has been said about globalisation which political and economic analysts believe are behind Africa’s slow economic pace.
Just last week, African leaders gathered at the 23rd Ordinary Session of the African Union General Assembly running under the theme “Agriculture and Food Security”.
The summit sought to consider progress on “Agenda 2063”, Africa’s guiding vision for the next 50 years.
The vision document was launched in 2013 at the Golden Jubilee of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 in response to serious economic and other challenges Africa is facing compared to the rest of the world.
Interestingly, in 1963, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, declared that “Our liberty is meaningless unless all Africans are free”.
This was in reference to Rhodesia, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and South Africa which were still under colonial rule. Given another lease of life, His Majesty Haile Selassie would probably say the same, this time far from conflict issues but in reference to post-colonial economic relations of Africa with the Western world.
Indeed, memories of past injustice by the Europeans seem to be diverting African leaders from the business at hand.
A number of pan-African messages, including key faces behind pan-Africanism, have been revolving around pre-colonial injustices and the need to correct these.
Little has been said about Africa’s handling of its resources, especially as a key player in the global village.
Recent revelations by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) that Africa commands a paltry 1,5 percent share of the world’s total manufacturing output do not only point to the vulnerability of Africa in the global economy but also reflect Africa as the largest consumer of products from other countries.
That, according to UNIDO, compares with Europe: 24,7 percent, North America: 22,4 percent, Asia and Pacific: 21,7 percent, East Asia: 17,2 percent; others: 6,7 percent and Latin America: 5,8 percent.
Africa is still the market for the produce of other nations, and more painfully, the source of the raw materials which feed their factories.
At conference after conference, summit after summit at regional and continental level, Africa discusses its own potential. Many of the issues discussed are drawn from Haile Selassie’s 1963 speech titled “The Making of Africa will not Wait”.
Time has come for Africa to stand on its feet and feed its own factories with resources drawn from the continent.
Many economies have been leveraged by unprocessed resources taken from Africa.
As the United Nations Economic Commission notes, globalisation and the information technology revolution have not provided the much needed opportunities for African countries to make significant advances and lift huge sections of populations out of poverty, improve incomes and catalyse economic and social transformations.
Unfortunately, most African economies are facing liquidity challenges, slow economic growth and unemployment rates due to foreign products that have flooded African markets.
Aid received by many African countries has done more harm than good.
The gospel of globalisation, free trade and free markets, among many other international prescriptions calling for the opening of world markets have done more harm than good in most African states.
Africa has always been a vulnerable continent since the days of slavery, through colonisation and now a free market economy.
Post-colonial strategies used by rich nations to continue their dominance over poor nations continue to push Africa to the periphery of the world economy.