Twenty years since the creation of the African Union, many concerned Africans had expected some basic, minimum items to essentially be on the agenda of the great milestone meeting in Addis Ababa this weekend.
At the very minimum, the 54 leaders (minus those being suspended from the club for bad manners of overthrowing the buddies of the suspenders) who are guiding the destiny of the 1.4 billion people should have given their position and direction on these five issues.
First, the leaders should have given their forward-looking strategies distilled from the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic. When the coronavirus struck, many African governments seemed to have left the investigation and analysis to the rest of the world, without taking into account the demographic and economic difference between Africa and Europe, North America or Asia.
So even those African states half of whose populations are below 15 years of age with no risk of falling sick from Covid-19, and three quarters of whose economies are not connected to the monetary system, took the same measures as developed countries, half of whose populations are menopausal and whose economies are entirely monetised.
Africans would have wanted to see indications from Addis that we are moving to a mindset of thinking more for ourselves.
Second, a clear, climate-smart development strategy should have emerged from the summit. Climate change is here for longer than Covid-19. Though both problems emerged from outside the continent and Africa was least involved in causing them, climate change is affecting the continent more and requires more robust response from our leaders. Possibly the saddest thing to happen to the continent will be if African leaders fail to recognise the rare opportunity climate change is giving Africa to emerge as a major player in the industry of tomorrow.
As the developed world argues and grapples with the switch from fossil fuel to clean energy, Africa (with the exception of South Africa) is almost starting on a clean slate and doesn’t need to climb out of the fossil pit first like Europe, America and Asia.
Third, Africa has all the materials needed for clean energy in its soil and powerful running water in its rivers. It cannot be just a coincidence that since February 6, 2021, in the run-up to the milestone 20th anniversary, the president of DR Congo has been the chairman of the AU, Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi has been presiding and still presides over all the resources the whole world needs and will need for several decades to come, to power a clean energy revolution for mankind.
Was there a report on how Africa with DR Congo should drive the new energy revolution and in the process make DR Congo citizens the richest in the world, since their country is also the richest on the globe? I must have missed it.
Did our leaders, within their theme of Building Resilience in Nutrition on the African Continent: Accelerate the Human Capital, Social and Economic Development come up with a consensus and strategy for harnessing the great resources of their continent to achieve the said development?
Hopefully, not all of the leaders were preoccupied with how to borrow more and mortgage the continent’s independence, now that both the West and the East are dangling more loans before them. Africans would like to see their governments, not the lenders, initiating the loan applications.
Fourth, and better still, Africans would love to see their governments resolving not to borrow unless it is absolutely necessary. If the biggest and most expensive deposits of the world’s most wanted raw materials are in Africa, why doesn’t Africa sell those deposits and fund its development? If only DR Congo has those resources, why doesn’t the AU urge their outgoing chairman to sell and lend to the other African countries?
Fifth, instead of the tried rhetoric of blaming the West for exploiting Africa, some Africans would have loved to hear how Africa can exploit Europe, America and China. Africans would also have liked to hear a commitment that our beloved leaders shall not be herded like sheep to attend investment “summits,” where the organisers show them what to buy. One such organiser called them and principally showed them guns. How many interstate wars are being fought in Africa? Is there an African country that is at war with a country on another continent? Guns bought by African are for killing Africans.
And fifth-and-a-half, will the leaders also consider helping to straighten the African mind that was twisted by external influences?
For example, before Western religion came to demonise polygamy, which our fathers and mothers cherished, there was no prostitution in Africa.
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail: [email protected]
This article was first published in The EastAfrican newspaper on February 5, 2022