The issue of global competitiveness remains a serious challenge to Africa. For nearly two decades Africa’s popular storyline was represented by the “Africa Rising” meme built on the commodity boom and rise of China as Africa’s leading trading partner. It was simply, catchy and hopeful. It was both hopeful and misleading. The narrative gave hope those who thought that revenue from commodity exports could be reinvested to spur Africa’s economies and diversify industrial growth. Worse, it lulled those who believed that the rise of China and the associated commodity boom would restore Africa’s so-called comparative advantage as world supplier of raw materials. The optimism gave birth to new ideas such as resource-based industrialization that were pegged on the historical belief in raw materials as Africa’s best starting point for long-term economic transformation. The optimism wasn’t all misplaced. For many it became a source of pride and renewed self-confidence that extended to countries that were not benefitting from the commodity boom. The impact of such optimism will outlive commodity price fluctuations. But optimism alone does not constitute a strategy that could guide Africa’s search for alternative development pathways.
So, why do most of Africa seem to be at a spot despite the much talk rising? Why does Africa lack the proper strategy to make the continent globally competitive? Is Africa still rising? Many African countries seem to be suffering from lack of good leadership with an appropriate plan. Corruption has eaten deep into our system thereby affecting all areas of development. Corruption is endemic to the way of life in much of Africa. It has permeated all life facets from simple things like access to medical care, schools and jobs, to the grand scale of it all like award of contracts and use of public resources. The effect has been great inequalities both in access of services from government offices as well as opportunities for investment with many local and foreign firms discouraged and forced to close business. Misappropriation of public funds and biased awarding of tenders compromises on the quality service available to the members of the public. Poor government has also contributed in keeping Africa on a spot or slow ride to deployment. Healthcare, security, political stability, and development projects are all affected by poor governance.
None of Africa’s problems is beyond the means and resources within the continent. What has largely lacked is proper policy making and implementation. Until we find a solution to corruption and poor governance, Africa might not be globally competitive in the nearest future.
AIB Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) Series
ISBN 978-3-319-67013-3 ISBN 978-3-319-67014-0 (eBook)