I Have a Dream for Africa's Successful Future

Cape Times (South Africa), June 3, 2015 | Go to article overview

I Have a Dream for Africa's Successful Future


IN AUGUST, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech during the organised 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. King said:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal...' " (first used by Thomas Jefferson in the US Declaration of Independence).

That moment represented a significant turning point in American history by bringing issues of inequality to the fore.

Interestingly, at the time King made the speech, Africa was already in the midst of a massive revolution aimed at addressing issues of inequality and oppression across the continent.

Decolonisation in Africa began in 1957 and gained great momentum during the 1960s, as newly appointed African governments - reimagining Africa's future - became passionate about a movement towards pan-Africanism.

On May 25, 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) (now the African Union - AU) was formed with the objectives of:

n Promoting the unity and solidarity of African states;

n Co-ordinating and intensifying co-operation and effort among African states to achieve a better life for the people; and

n Defending the sovereignty of African states, their territorial integrity and their independence.

Each year May 25 is now celebrated as Africa Day, commemorating the ongoing quest for unity on the continent, as well as the political and economic liberation of the African people.

While independence certainly hasn't led to political stability and liberation in every African country - and in some countries there is still a long way to go - the formation of the AU was a massive turning point in African history.

Unfortunately achieving true unity remains a challenge on the continent. Unlike the single-country US, Africa has 55 very different countries - all at different levels of liberation.

But governance in Africa is progressing and, though it will take more time to navigate the complexities, we should not forsake any movement towards achieving the African Dream of pan-Africanism.

Today, seven out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. The continent is increasingly moving into the global limelight as a promising investment destination - despite preconceived risks of investing in turbulent times.

A significant amount of the growth that is being experienced and enjoyed in key markets across Africa is as a direct result of the governments in these markets being able to successfully implement far-reaching economic and political reform - thus creating more conducive business and investment climates.

The reality is that effective governance is integral to sustainable economic development. So, for instance, the best way to reduce poverty is through continued economic development, where successful development and economic growth is dependent on a functioning and responsible government that wants to implement change for the benefit of its people.

To put this further into perspective, while Africa is enjoying a continuous flow of foreign direct investment (FDI), it is, in fact, domestic investment that fuels national economies. As well as this, increasing inter-African trade will make Africa more globally competitive.

While both these aspects are well accepted throughout the continent, there are still too many barriers in the face of political will to make changes toward economic integration.

These challenges shouldn't discourage Africa's political leaders. It took Europe a long time to establish the EU. What is needed, however, is stronger economic diplomacy to look after African interests. This will most likely, in the coming 15 years, be influenced by at least one, if not all - and simultaneously - of the following megatrends. These have been identified as expected to have the greatest impact on governments and citizens alike into 2030:

Demographics

Escalating birth rates and higher life expectancy are rapidly increasing the African population. …

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