Africa Declining or Rising?

There is a narrative that Africa is rich underground, not above ground with the notion of the resource curse. The Economist in 2000, published a magazine with a cover page 'The hopeless continent', in March 2013, published another one stating 'Africa Rising'; where do we actually stand, is it an illusion of growth or it is real?

Firstly a repeated misconception, is that Africa is likely to be viewed as a country, than a continent; and there is a sense of sympathy when the continent is thought of, as long as that sorry view is maintained, Africa won't be seen as an equal partner on the world stage.

While we preach that Africa's time has arrived, that we are no more a dark continent, we should also not be blind to the challenges we still face from the political, economic and social front.

Foreign Direct Investments are flooding into Africa, firstly by the West, followed by China. FDI stands at about $70 Billion, such flows now exceed foreign aid; this is a display of confidence, not patronage. Furthermore, the continent is home to nine out of the fifteen fastest growing economies in the world.

Actually, there's been billions and billions of dollars made in Africa, mainly through mining and oil companies; money has been shipped out of the continent than benefiting the very countries it was made in. Illicit Capital flows out of Africa is a big issue, over $60 billion a year is unaccounted for in the past years, in countries like Nigeria. Former South African President Thabo Mbeki even came on board to see how this matter can be prevented in many of these countries.

There is a pattern that most poor countries have high levels of corruption, maybe except countries like Rwanda, and most rich countries are 'relatively' in-corrupt. Self-enriching officials are holding Africa back.

Infrastructure remains a challenge, another reason African countries trade less with themselves.

Intra-Africa trade sits at 17% from 12% in 2013/14; and its share of global trade is at less than 3%. Africa's need to diversify its economy, by beneficiating the raw minerals we produce on the continent, than shipped elsewhere and returned more expensive than we could have done locally.

At the moment, the contraction in China and slow growth in Europe is affecting the continent.

For the last ten years, Africa has been growing at almost 5,8% to 6%, projections are that it will grow 4,4%; due to economic down turn, slow growth in Europe and weakening demand of commodities as African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina observes.

Since China is moving from a labor intensive economy, to capital intensive economy, it is losing about 85 million manufacturing jobs, it's an opportunity for other countries; as their economy contracts to focus on the domestic market and services sector.

There are 645 million people without access to electricity, that's stifling growth in Africa. The vision is for all Africans to have electricity by 2025, the initiative backed by African Development Bank.

The wise move done by political leaders on the continent, was to group themselves in four regions, namely East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and Northern Africa; that's improving trade among each other. One thing that our leaders need to attend to, is a Visaless Africa for its' continental citizens, like the Schengen Visa model.

One way or the other, Africa can and should develop itself by doing what we call Domestic Resource Mobilization, by mobilizing our Sovereign Wealth Fund and the $1 Trillion in pension funds; that money can be geared towards infrastructure development, consolidating its agricultural sector for maximum output etc.

The trend seem to be the Chinese Dragon, Indian Tiger, and now the African Lion.

However, the holistic view is that we are improving, a continent that just came out of colonialism less than a century ago, it is on a fast track to become competitive globally.

With African business role models like Cosmas Maduka, Johan Rupert, Rebecca Mwale and Issad Rebrad, they continue to encourage entrepreneurship.

Sectors on the rise in Africa are tourism, technology, services, manufacturing and telecommunications among others.

Africa's most precious resource today, it's youth, who account more than half the population; how they are groomed, will determine the future.

Above all else, Africa needs to develop its human capital, strengthen its political leadership, adopt zero tolerance to corruption, fuel an entrepreneurial drive infused with innovation, and lastly, increase its intellectual base; certainly, Africa is rising.