Monday, September 6, 2010

Africa is coming of age

Dr Titi Banjoko

Africa is coming of age. 2010 sees 17 African countries celebrate 50 years of independence. Many questions are being asked by Africans and Non-Africans alike on whether the aspirations of independence have been achieved and the progress to date.

If reflection is based on post independent socio-economic progression only, are we asking the right question? After all the starting point at independence was freedom from colonial rule not economics. The goal was continued dependence or independence; in that respect the goal of independence has been achieved.

With independence comes responsibility and then accountability for socio-economic development. This is not achieved as a one off but as evolving process fraught with so many challenges that will eventually lead to maturity and ultimately success.

Recent years have seen African countries grow in understanding and awareness of who we are and how we fit into the wider global context. The increasing awareness has led to a greater insight into the issues, potentials and opportunities within Africa and the effect of external stakeholders. This journey of self discovery has led to numerous changes across Africa i.e. move from military to civilian rule, increasing calls from within to speed the developmental process, a growing and maturing media, civil society and a vibrant private sector.

Post independence African countries maintained and continued a strong relationship with colonial countries i.e. Anglo; Franco and Lusophone links. These historical ties are beginning to count for nothing as new relationships are courted and forged based on mutual respect and benefits.

The language and postural statements from both the West and Africa points to a shift in relationship from passive to active engagement; recipients of to partnership with from win –lose to a win –win and specifics over generalisation i.e. named African country rather than Africa.
The maturity of Africa and its coming of age is reflected in various sectors i.e. growth and expansion of African owned companies inside and outside Africa. The increasing self belief that Africans can and must solve the problems in Africa; is evidence of maturity.

The next fifty years will see the emergence of African countries on the global platform as a key economic player.

Africa has much to celebrate- there have been massive strides to reduce poverty improve literacy, infant mortality rates, life expectancy. Still, much needs to be done, with human rights abuses remaining an issue in many African countries, while poverty and disease continue to stalk parts of the continent, some of them which have known no peace and are ravaged by years of armed conflict.

Technology such as the internet and mobile phone has become a part of everyday life in Africa. More importantly it’s a tool that is used to increase the availability of information creating a more transparent and credible process for bringing leaders to account.

As the mass populace becomes more informed so will the level of accountability of the leaders, forcing the required change and development across the continent.