Vanguard (Lagos)

20 November 2012

Africa's Grim Future

editorial

Africa is so doomed because we discuss its future without pondering the implications of the woes we bemoan.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation proceeded in similar fashion when it painted the dreary picture of the future of African youth. It was rather the picture of a future-less continent, a real threat to the global community.

How would Africa's more than one billion people fare in the next few decades? The report said poor governance, absence of quality education, health, youth employment were creating an uncompetitive continent, the youth bear the brunt.

Governance remains central to the challenges Africa faces. Minimal attention is paid to the future, except the future of leaderships that invest state resources in sustaining their regimes.

Many African leaders do not see the future of their countries beyond the confines of their own interests. Efforts at creating linkages that can develop the continent are lost in petty quests for individual prosperity, "value" leaders promote, and which the populace imitate.

The endangerment of Africa is total. Education barely prepares the youth for challenges of living in modern societies where the digital divide makes the differences uncomfortably obvious.

African youth who embrace digital technology mostly deploy their knowledge to the distracting rewards of social media.

Where does the salvation lie? The Mo Foundation Report emphasises education, laments and the additional burdens of educated youth being unemployed, with more school age kids still out of school.

Governance is key in tackling these issues because governments award episodic treatment to grave matters of the sustenance of societies. Too many African governments are clueless about the importance of investments in sectors that would create jobs to absorb the millions of youth whose present concerns must be tackled to guarantee their relevance in future.

Mo Foundation has a lot of work to do. Until the youth is the future of the continent and its affairs handled with the emergency the future of Africa demands, the Foundation's job would not have been done. It is a lot of work that has deeper complications than many contemplate.

Africa suffers capacity deficit in many areas. Outside leadership, infrastructure remains a limiting factor in the utilisation of the continent's resources. Perhaps, the biggest threat is the imitative corruption our leaders have imbibed. Billions of dollars stolen from the continent, annually, end up in foreign banks.

Not only do corrupt practices minimise resources available for development, they create a culture of impunity and a leadership lineage doused in corruption and decidedly immersed in maintaining its vice grip on Africa.

The world faces a grimmer future without a globally compliant Africa. The challenges are not for the youth. They are for the world.

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