Africa is indisputably the world’s richest continent in terms of mineral and natural deposits. A continent representing over 20% of the world’s arable lands, fertile for all kinds of agricultural produce, it contributes over 50% of the world’s deposit of mineral resources such as diamond in South Africa, gold in Ghana, crude oil in Nigeria, 90% of tantalize (cobalt) tin ore, fortunately 40% of world’s hydroelectric power, unspeakable amount of tanzanite, uranium, with a whether which can sustain and support farming all year round.
Despite the high level of intelligent and innovative personnel from around the continent, Africa has continued to lag behind in the comity of nations, earning all kinds of names such as the dark continent of the world, the white man’s grave yard etc. African economies have been begging for assistance from other continent centuries past with no end in sight, not because they lack the resources but simply because they lack that financial aptitude and discipline to handle and develop an inclusive, progressive and egalitarian economy built on sustainable economic blueprint.
One will not therefore fail to ask what has been the problem of Africa. How can Tanzania owning 99.9% deposit of the world’s Tanzanite lacks the technology to process it, Tanzanite is a relatively rare and costly mineral discovered in 1967 and is named for its country of origin, a resource used as a rare jewelry material exported raw from the country of origin to other countries where it will be processed and sold at a very high price. West Africa collectively supplies two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, with Ivory Coast leading production at 1.65 million tonnes, and nearby Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Togo producing additional 1.55 million tonnes. Ivory Coast overtook Ghana as the world’s leading producer of cocoa beans since 1978, but if you look at the beverage industry, they earn the least from that industry.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and the 13th largest producer of oil in the world with daily production reaching about 2.4 million barrels. Nigeria also has the second largest proven oil reserves in Africa and the 10th largest in the world but sadly Nigeria imports refined crude oil in millions daily. The country lacks a functional refinery, this ugly satire has seen the country not benefiting from or saving enough during the oil booms. Unemployment and underemployment has been on an alarming rise, while inflation has been heading to the east. The value of the local currency has been on a free fall and today the government wishes to borrow $30 billion to fund deteriorating infrastructures, for which specifics are being awaited.
Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia are Africa countries producing large value and volume of diamond but have remained under-developed with poverty level at an abysmal and dreadful rate. With very little value addition, these countries, like their Nigerian counterpart have not been able to take any comparative advantage of this rare resource that is sought after in the international market to better the lots of her citizen, the manufacturing sector, energy and absence of pipe borne water have been economic challenges to these countries.
The question is what has been the cause of Africa’s continued under development? Should we apportion it to the colonization of Africa? No I do not think so, America was at one point colonized by Britain and today they are greater than even their colonial master, overtaking them as the world’s largest economy 150 years ago. India, Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey, Brazil and so many other countries respected today were at one point in their history colonized, but the difference is that these countries have decided to shake off their colonial experience and today are forces to reckon with.
It is believed that the continent of Africa has lost over $1.4 trillion from 1980 to 2010 to financial mismanagement and waste. Economic waste has been the major cause of Africa’s under-development; it has nothing to do with colour, climate, natural resources, human capital and religion. These are factors that have had contrasting realities when placed side by side with other nations. We cannot say climate is the issue of Africa’s underdevelopment since the country of Israel presents a sharp contrast. Israel is a country located in the desert with very little amount of rainfall per annum. Few years ago, who would have believed that Israel could feed herself let alone export fresh fruit and vegetable to the rest of the world? It took the application of apt, systematic, disciplined and inclusive financial and resource management with the continued adoption of destructive innovation. Africa has been raped repeatedly by her finance managers for a very long time and she is critically bleeding. Lack of strong institutions in Africa and failure of leadership has done more harm than good to the continent.
Most economies of Africa cannot boost of state of the art infrastructural amenities that can support development. Energy supply has been a problem but when viewed with the number of abandoned projects in other sectors in most African countries and the enormous resources already committed that cannot be retrieved or reinvested in any other venture. It is believed that three quarter of Africa’s infrastructure is either stalled or abandoned. This is high for a continent that lacks basic infrastructure like roads, electricity, irrigation, pipe borne water, rail way etc.
The cost of corruption to African economies is colossal. The African Union has estimated that during the 1990s, corruption was costing African economies about $148 billion per year, or about 25 percent of Africa’s total output. This is very gigantic and has accounted for the continent’s continued lag in comity of nations. Corruption is an ill-wind that brings no one any good except the economies that receive and warehouse such stolen funds and utilize it for their own benefit leaving the masses in Africa to wallow in abject and derisive poverty, dying of the least treatable disease with little access to decent health care, lack of quality education system.
The recent restructuring of Chinese market away from manufacturing to service based economy saw China’s demand for raw material which is cheaply sourced from Africa fail drastically. The continent, being commodity-exporting continent is facing major economic challenges from South Africa to Nigeria, from Ghana to Congo DR, from Botswana to Rwanda to Zimbabwe the story is same but the degree varies, leaving so many countries borrowing to even fund recurrent expenses. This must be discouraged if Africa must continue to rise; we should not plunge into another round of debt crisis because our experience with debt is not a palatable one. Africa should solve Africans problems. Regional integration remains the best as such should be encouraged. As no outsider will ever love you more than you love yourself.
Hadejia wrote this piece from NOUN, Gusau Centre, Zamfara State