Magazine article New African

Once Bitten, Twice Shy - Africa Can Do Better This Time Round

Magazine article New African

Once Bitten, Twice Shy - Africa Can Do Better This Time Round

Article excerpt

As a host to most of the problems they sought to address, the just-concluded MDGs were a wake-up call for Africa. But only a few African countries fully took heed. This time around, for the sake of its burgeoning population, Africa needs to prepare for the SDGs better than it did the MDGs, writes Prof. Edwin Muchapondwa.

Africa needs to make good on the targets it missed in the past 15 years of the MDGs era. The SDGs give Africa an opportunity as well as a new incentive to achieve where it failed and do more. But a clean break from the continent's bad habits is needed to heed this new wake-up call.

Working together

For a start, the continent needs to move in unison on issues that improve the welfare of its citizens. In this regard, a joint implementation of the SDGs is instructive. The African Union's Agenda 2063 has already set the stage for the continent to think about a common desired future. However, as with most things African, the vision is well thought-out and well planned, but it could easily fail at the implementation stage. Working together and applying peer pressure to each other could lead to greater success than the continent achieved with the MDGs and this time around, Africa must embrace the SDGs and implement them with more vigour, because the sustainable development they could bring to Africa will be for Africans.

While we may hate the way ignorant Westerners think there is a country called "Africa", we have to love it as an inspiration for regional integration. Meaningful integration, as seen in other blocs such as the EU, needs to take place even if it is at the level of regional blocs such as ECOWAS, EAC and SADC.

By taking the concept of sovereignty so seriously, African countries have missed out on the opportunities that come with the mutually beneficial welfare improvements that come with deeper integration. Shared wealth amongst African countries is surely better than poverty in sovereignty.

Made in China

Isn't it questionable that as Africans, we make little issue over the fact that China has targeted our continent as one big market and African-made products are never as widely available on the continent as Chinese-made products are? For instance, one can hardly get clothes and shoes made in Africa any more. Africa is awash with these products, except they are mainly from China. It is also bizarre that Chinese businessmen can easily move to any part of the continent they want to do business in, yet African businessmen cannot do the same.

Another point is how many African governments have auctioned off their natural resources to China, sometimes to avoid business, aid and economic conditionalities tied to Western countries' involvement with Africa. Poor negotiation and corruption has allowed China to secure Africa's resources under some unfavourable terms.

For example, China does not transfer skills to locals and the roads and railways they build are largely meant to get the resources out as quickly as possible and at low cost. Africa has only itself and its leaders to blame as China is only doing what altruistic governments do--get good deals for their people. Clearly not everything about China is bad, but China needs to be kept in check to ensure that African interests are taken care of. …

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