WHAT ARE OUR ECONOMIC CHANCES IN AFRICA?

There had been several attempts since Nkrumah’s time when African leaders tried to merge into alliances and unions. There was the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union which broke up when Nkrumah and Modibo Keita of Mali were removed from power by coup plotters.

 

There was also the preceeding Mali federation of Senegal, Mali (which was Sudan during the alliance), Upper Volta and Dahomey (Benin Republic now). But both withdrew from the federation scheme leaving only Senegal and Sudan (Mali). But that too became stillborn when problem began over who would be the federation’s president. And so, Mali went off then to join the earlier mentioned Guinea-Ghana-Mali Union.

 

This was then followed by a division of African states into two opposing groups: the Casablanca group, which consists of radical states like Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Algeria and Egypt and the other group was the Monrovia caucus which includes almost all the Francophone states (except Mali and Guinea), Liberia and Nigeria.

 

The Casablanca group were proposing an immediate and strong political union in Africa while the Monrovia group favored a loose association of independent states. Nigeria stated during conferences held at Addis Ababa in the early sixties that the proposed political union was too premature and there was need to prepare the minds of the different peoples and states, to ensure gradual development that will not cause paranoia of the respective countries surrendering their sovereignty.

 

Soon Sekou Toure of Guinea and President Nasser of Egypt began to work with the Monrovia group and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, which finally resulted in the birth of the Organization of African Unity in May 1963. Now reformed into the new African Union.

 

Over the years however, it became clear that a loose federation must precede strong political union. And this again gave birth to ECOWAS and other regional bodies in Africa. ECOWAS (west) is the strongest of of ECCAS (central African states) or SADC (Southern Africa Development Community). But all these regional organization would be of no value unless Africa starts having its own market. African states should not sell goods they do not produce, or this will cotinually kill our own industries and render our resources under-utilized. African states need to stop being dumping sites for foreign manufacturers at the detriment of our own local manufacturers.

 

Recently, Nigeria’s Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi was asked by the IMF to increase interest rates. Sanusi refused. Increasing interest rates would have attracted multi-national investors into Nigeria alright, but this would have affected our local producers who would depend on loans from banks to run their businesses.

 

In 2008 26 African countries who are member states in subregional organizations like the EAC east Africa), SADC and COMESA (common markets of east and southern Africa, came together to begin the proposal of merging into one trading bloc. Eriya Kategaya, Uganda’s Minister for the EAC said, “The best strategy is to consolidate regional integration and use regional economic communities as a building bloc towards an eventual AU government…”

 

The new AU was reformed to promote democratic principles in the continent. Although Africa has been talking democracy now for more than a decade but the AU declaration on democracy, good governance and human rights is very essential. Nothing can be achieved in an atmosphere of terror or overlordship, there must be room for democratic watchdogs.

 

A new wave of democratic reform is sweeping Africa as we still see in the toppling of archaic regimes in North Africa, unpopular leadership in Ivory Coast and drastic reduction in rigging elections in Nigeria and Kenya.

 

There is still more to be done of course, for Rome was not built in a day. African leaders need to be more responsible and followers need to be more civic. Nigeria has a lot to do in its hegemony as one of Africa’s most powerful countries. Democracy is fresh in the country after long years of mismanagement in the hands of the military.

 

Electricity is a major challenge for the new government, for this is one thing that would encourage local manufacturers… every Nigerian is a businessman. Electric power, solid banking system and teeming human resources (market foreigners are exploiting), not to mention the vast resources available in nature makes Nigeria a country too rich to be called poor, yet too poor to be called rich.

 

In the Second Republic government of Shagari, early 1980s. Shagari had set up task forces on “importation” – not production, of rice! This myopic “let-us-enjoy-because-we-have-the-money” crass policy should not be encouraged by government. But most of all what do you (if u are reading this) have to offer the country, do not wait for things to happen before you set your ball in motion, what can you offer? Do not just build another man’s business as a salaried earner, run your own business alongside, you never can tell who the next Microsoft- or Walmart-like builder is going to be

 

America was a country teeming with poverty and vast slums, where anyone could do anything to survive; this attracted poor migrants from all over Europe giving birth to the Mafia, businessmen, the literati, inventors who had no money except their dreams. Today, the spirit of be-what-you-can built the nation, the nation did not build them. China is another example on the opposite side; although Communistic country, but the state ran the manufacturing sector of the country, growing from a peasant economy into a world power.

 

I could still remember in the 1990s when Chinese goods were scorned and laughed at because they were outright fake…today? the story is different.

Nigeria is a nest of singing eggs, poised to hatch, and the renaissance sweeping Africa like a ghost haunting bad leadership in this era of facebook activists and media furor. Think of something, an idea, and stick to it, no matter the odds stacked against you… Africa needs you whether at home or diaspora. Think Africa….there is a market waiting to be tapped.

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