A Spotlight on African Growth and Development

At a time when it is commonplace to see news about terrorist attacks by Boko Haram or Al-Shabab, when it is normal to hear European countries slander the African migrants who leave home to support their families from abroad, and when aid and adoption rates have reached an all time high in some African countries, it is important for us to not so easily fall into the narrative of undermining Africa’s history of oppression. Africa’s struggles are the expected consequences of global hegemonic imperialism and exploitative capitalism: with exploitation and poverty come terror and dependency.  The reality is Africa exists in a global structure that has no intentions of letting Africans maintain their sovereignty, dignity, and natural resources. Furthermore, it is important to highlight Africa’s feats in this context: despite the unfair global structure that exists today, several African countries are facing exceptional growth.

The following are some of the most fast-developing industries and feats in a selection of African countries.

    1. Nigerian Mobile Banking – Nigerian mobile banking is taking off and bringing attention to a whole sector that has been integral to the technological revolution in Nigeria. Tayo Oviosu, the founder of mobile payments business Pagatech, told Stanford Graduate School of Business that he believes that “mobile is to Africa as computing is to the Western World.” The strength in many African countries industrializing in a different era than the Western World is that there is more diversification in the technological agents driving different societies. Nigeria and other west-African countries that have a culture of economic-driven migration can really benefit from mobile banking, as it eases the process of transferring remittances. Domestically, it adds an element of convenience in financial transactions and increased growth in Nigeria’s already booming business market.
    2. The Dynamic Kenyan Economy – Kenya’s economy has an impressive network of investment flows and trade, and its gross domestic product is growing on several fronts. Kenyan policy has allowed for more market freedom than many of its neighbors who have chosen to take on relatively socialist ideals based on the needs of their people. Economic growth can be attributed to a strong private sector, advanced horticulture, frequent intra-East African trade at 37%, high human capital with a focus on university education, and mobile banking. Kenya’s GDP is currently 40% of the East African Community (of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda). If Kenya continues to be a trailblazer in intra-African trade, it’s success and the success of countries around it are likely to follow.
    3. Malawi’s Strategic Borrowing – while borrowing can sometimes lead to a perpetuation of exploitation by more developed countries, strategic borrowing can turn the system on its head. Developed countries have a history of imposing their strategy advice and policy on the developing governments who are borrowing, but this is not usually in the interest of the developing country. In 2005, Malawi found itself in a food deficit of 43%. After using government-subsidized fertilizer to Malawian farmers (even when donors advised the government not to), the farming brought the country to a food surplus of 53%.
    4. Eritrea’s Audacious Self-Resilience – Eritrea is a country that has said no to aid time and time again. While it has suffered poverty and political isolation as a result, it also has taken the time to focus on social development and technological demystification on a road to development. The literacy of adult Eritreans is 68.9%, but the literacy of 15-24 year olds is 90.2%, indicating a huge growth in human capital–and meeting health focused Millenium Development Goals along the way. Eritrea has used this human capital in innovative ways, like by recalling retired engineers to participate in the rehabilitation of a colonially-made railroad. The country has also banned exports on highly valued Fiats and natural resources. (Gatune, 2010). Focusing on demystifying technology before high speed development is one of its most important strategies.

African countries have faced incredible injustice in a historical context, but there are huge strides being made on industry and country-wide levels. China and India have already adopted national infrastructural investments in some African countries, and many Chinese and Indian business people have begun to immigrate to African countries (as they have been immigrating to Kenya for some time now). Africa will see even more growth with investment human capital and infrastructure, emphasis on intra-African trade and innovation from citizens, and through welcoming foreigners to diversify networks.

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