Rekindling the Pan-African spirit: What the youth must do

We need to trade more with ourselves, add value to our raw products, develop and customise our own local technology

In Summary

• In recent times, there is a new scramble for African resources.

•The African youth must take up conscience of these issues and act accordingly

I was recently invited by some young Kenyans to share my thoughts on how we as the younger generation of Africans can further the Pan African spirit.

The Pan African Congress is reviving this great movement in Kenya to ensure t our country takes a lead in spurring the entrepreneurial spirit and indeed the dignify of all Africans, by being conscious of wage is happening around Africa and the world as we move towards the new year 2021. 

In recent times, there is a new scramble for African resources. The West colonised us and after independence, used debt, commodity pricing and structural adjustment programs to stunt our development. We looked East and primarily China. Sino-African relations are predicated on a scorched earth policy.

With their easy credit at a high interest, with less time repayment, their finders fees otherwise known as kickbacks to government officials, have led to a very high nominal debt in many African countries. This is essentially exporting corruption as only recently, two mayors were executed in China for receiving millions of dollars in bribes.

The elite, being cushioned from the vulgarities and depravities of day to day struggles of the common man and woman, are selling our birth rights in exchange for peanuts in terms of false senses of securities by primitive accumulation. They, like the slave dealers who commoditised and sold our fellow Africans, are looking the other way as Chinese prisoner labour is replacing our local jobs and racism is being practised on our own soil. It is instructive to note that very little skill and technology transfer is happening between China and Africa. 

On the other hand, the 'West' as we know it is crumbling under a new wave of far right governments driven by a resurgent ethnic hence racial nationalism and exemplified by Trumpism and Brexit. 

The Trump administration, a clear counter-reaction to the Obama presidency, did all it could to destroy the sense of the so-called 'international community' and by extension, the community of nations. This provides fertile grounds for disjointed efforts in countering vices such as terrorism, transnational crime and illicit financial flows. It also deals a big blow to international standards of practice and the advancement human rights and fair trade practices.  

Further, confronted with the reality of a hard Brexit and the cold shoulder from the Trump administration, Britain is going back to its colonial protectorates under the so-called 'Commonwealth'. This is essentially re-engaging with the countries that helped it to be what it is today through huge expropriation of wealth and the exploitation of human capital via slavery and/or cheap labour. 

The French have heretofore held a tight grip on their colonies so much to the point that former France President Jacque Chirac is on record as having said that France would only be a third world country, were it not for the African economies.

It is time, therefore, for Africans to use our own devices to literary pull up themselves with their own bootstraps. 

We need to confront tribalism for our elections to be more meaningful. Currently, they are nothing more than an ethnic census of eligible voters. The democratic project in Africa has largely failed to produce a momentum for economic take off. What we are witnessing is the failure of election a to conduct credible plebiscites and litigation gridlocks that have made it very difficult for flagship projects to take off in a timely and cost effective manner. 

Corruption is producing a very small clique of the super rich and masses of poor people, a clear example of a few billionaires and a billion beggars. State development is being replaced with private philanthropy predicated upon African familial values, where the most successful member of the family is obligated to help others, even if the source of wealth is rather too obvious; open theft of public resources. 

Africa must of essence, engage with the rest of the world, but first with itself. The continent has 30 per cent of the world's natural resources, 60 per cent of the world's arable land, yet it's population is the poorest. In addition, 67 per cent of the African Union's budget is funded by foreigners. Our borders are more open to these foreigners than our fellow Africans. How can the continent develop in such a scenario?

As they say, he who pays the piper, calls the tune and, there is no free lunch. 

The African youth must take up conscience of these issues and act accordingly. Otherwise we risk being re-colonised since our competitors have the same vantage point as it was during colonisation — that is use of force through superior weapons, commerce, through larger and more developed economies, ideology in terms of mass and social media domination, and technology, in terms of the use of big data and artificial intelligence, which is the essence of the fourth industrial revolution. This if not leveraged upon, is a new tool of manipulation as demonstrated by the Russian interference of the US elections and the recent confessions of Cambridge Analytica about its role in elections in Africa and the Americas. 

We, therefore, need to trade more with ourselves, add value to our raw products, develop and customise our own local technology, fully fund the activities of the African Union, and leverage on the youth dividend. Our 1 billion people, their talents and the continent's natural resources must surely count for something. 

It’s time for Africa. 

Happy New Year!