That there are problems in Africa for several decades even after many countries in the continent went through transitions from colonialism to independence, is not a deniable fact.
In combination to such factors as unequal development, poverty, disease, violence and the manipulative tendencies of the local elite, political and economic stability in Africa is constantly under threat.
Many scholars have accounted for the continent’s underdevelopment, despite sitting on massive natural resources, as basically a consequence of its leadership problem. In this context, Africa has seen its freedom heroes turn into dictators, while plunder of natural resources, politics of exclusion and deprivation to tilt the balance of power continues to dominate the public sphere.
The African elites, who are bent on hanging to power at all cost and for the purpose of primitive accumulation, have perfected the art of political expediency even when these acts threaten the stability of their countries.
Africa’s underdevelopment conundrum may owe much of its cause to internal factors, however the interpenetration of internal and external factors especially geo-political and economic interests of the international community constantly play a significant role in undermining the very processes and institutions that are expected to nurture democracy and to instil a sense of stability for societal development in Africa.
Resources in Africa if well managed are capable of providing for its entire population, hence the potentials for a more stable environment. However, quite often, stolen wealth from Africa often end up in banks abroad, be it money stolen by the political elite (the case of Mobutu of Zaire, Abacha of Nigeria, and Moi of Kenya, just to mention a few), they still end up in banks in the western capitals.
Also problematic in Africa are the existing institutions of the state and how they function. Despite the existence of institutional frameworks that are supposed to guide processes and delivery on essential services, the continued weakening of these institutions, through political mechanisation and predatory nature of African elites, working in cohorts with external interests also contributes further to the undermining of development in Africa.
Although much expectation is placed on African leadership as a solution to its perennial problems, Africa’s partners in the West need to realise that the marriage between Africa and Europe, whether through default or reinforced further by an integrated global economy and human security concerns, demand a deeper understanding of African interest, which in essence require supporting Africa to lead itself.
Key to this process is strengthening Africa’s institutions that promote democracy and accountability with an input from the local perspectives. Prescriptions which sideline local views have proved to be unsuccessful. The continued ignorance of African views on how they wish to solve their problems, inform the missteps that continue to bog the political and economic policies, often touted as good for Africa.
Ezinwanne Onwuka writes from Cross River State and may be reached on email@example.com.