With the year 2050 creeping ever closer, the United Nations projects that by then Africa’s population will have doubled. Africa currently accounts for 16% of the world’s population – by 2050, a quarter of the world will be African.
The outlook for Africa in 2050
What will the Africa of 2050 look like? Professor André Roux, the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB-ED) faculty member, and the head of USB-ED’s post-graduate program in Future Studies believes it will be difficult to make a prediction, but a few potential outcomes can be forecasted. There are 55 countries in Africa and Roux believes good governance, leadership development, accountability, diversification, respect for the rule of law and value of life will be the game changers that allow Africa to harness a demographic dividend by the year 2050.
Good governance is the foundation of a democratic society. This sets the ethos for the quality and stability of life. Governance is the durable link between the state and the citizens. It is a pliability that determines how society is viewed economically and politically. Lack of good governance has plagued many African states, as public institutions have struggled to conduct public affairs and manage public resources.
The resources have not been evenly distributed among the citizens and it therefore becomes a Herculean task to have an egalitarian society. The political elites in African states have continued to hijack power, while they kept on changing the laws and murdering the constitutions to suit their selfish and scheming interests. Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola, Paul Biya of Cameroon, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Mswati of Swaziland, Idriss Debi of Chad, Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and recently Bola Tinubu of Nigeria have slain the Constitution to find their way to, or stay in, power to the detriment of the citizens.
According to the Development Bank, good governance ought to be built on the foundation of an effective state, mobilised civil societies, and efficient private sectors. Accountability, transparency, fighting corruption, and strengthening legal and judicial frameworks are key elements of good governance. Africa cannot do without effective governance if it is to harness demographic dividends by the year 2050.
Leadership is crucial to development, as it is the ability to rally men and women together for a common purpose. When there is leadership failure in a society, it becomes difficult to harness the potential of the youth population and convert their innate talents to aid in the development of the state. The reality is a lack of leadership development and sustainability to strengthen African democracy.
There is a huge gap between what Africa is at the moment and what it ought to be if visionary leaders are to be allowed to swim in the political pool or climb the ladder of politics. This is a major problem in many African states as most of the political elites have not resolved to build an egalitarian society, where all citizens are equal before the law with even distribution of wealth.
The likes of the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and Obafemi Awolowo of Nigeria are visionary leaders who see beyond parochial politics and feudalism. They are keen on the development of their states and distributing wealth among the citizens. Sadly, their visionary leadership has not been sustainable within the political space, and this won’t help Africa harness a demographic dividend by the year 2050 and beyond.
Respect for the rule of law
The key to respect for the rule of law is the separation of powers. There must be a distinct difference between the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. They must be independent to enforce their laws and follow them logically. There must be regular free and fair elections in which the electorate can freely choose their leaders without fear, suppression, or intimidation. The electoral body is expected to be independent and not listen to the dictate of the executive or the legislative.
It is expected that governments need to have good laws, institutions, and processes in place to ensure accountability, stability, equality and access to justice for all. This ultimately leads to respect for human rights and the environment. It also helps lower levels of corruption and instances of violent conflict. This is not the reality in many African countries as the political elites have continued to influence the outcomes of the judiciary in their favour. This has led to impunity and absolute distrust of the judicial system.
African states must think
What drives prosperity and foreign investment is respect for the rules of law. When there is a lack of it, foreigners refrain from investing, irrespective of the size of the population. Corruption is a cancer, a threat, and a cankerworm to the prosperity of a nation. It will take fine-tuned energy and lateral thinking for many African states, most especially the political elites, and for them to think beyond their selfishness and greed. ‘Country first’ should be their motto if they intend for Africa to harness her demographic dividend by the year 2050 and beyond.