Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The African Renaissance

The African renaissance

August 28, 2013 Opinion & Analysis
Dr Tewolde Berhan Gebre-Egziabher

The whole of Africa is now free from colonialism, thanks in a large part to the push from the then Organisation of African Unity. Now that Africans are all free, we must unite to hasten our economic development. We need to catch up with those countries that had been developing their economies while all our efforts had been focused initially at escaping from being carted off by them to the Carribean and to the Americas as slaves, and latterly at chasing them out from continuing as our colonial masters.

All humans spread out to the whole world from Africa. It was thus natural that we, Africans, welcomed all humans back home when they returned to Africa. But it was not natural that they came back to enslave us and then colonise us so as to use our labour and our natural resources for their economic development.

Nevertheless, it still remains a fact that they are our relatives. We should thus simply forget the past injustices of slavery and colonialism that they imposed upon us. What we must not forget are the incapacitating impacts of slavery and colonialism that have left us economically far behind all parts of the world.

The path of economic development that the now richer countries chose has also placed a major impediment on our possible path to our future economic development.

In their attempts to generate the energy required for their economic development and for their subsequent comfort, they have burnt much coal, petroleum and natural gas dug out of the earth.

The greenhouse gases they thus emitted have resulted in increasing global warming and the consequent climate change. Global warming affects the whole world. But Africa, through the middle of which the equator passes, has to begin with been the hottest of the continents. This makes us the most vulnerable to global warming and to the consequent climate change.

To be fair, the countries that enslaved and colonised us so as to develop their economies did not initially know that they were causing global warming and climate change.

Therefore, we can forget their misdemeanour in starting global warming. However, now that they know better than we do, they should join hands with us and with the rest of the world to stop exacerbating this bane of global warming that they set going. If they refuse to join hands with us, however, they become deliberate destroyers of life on earth and we must hold them responsible for their evil deeds and condemn them for being criminals.

How do we hold them responsible for being criminals and how do we develop our economies so as to catch up with them without repeating the evil deeds that they have been doing? We must first maximise our strength. We thus have no choice but to unite Africa into a single economic and political unit. We must not allow the African Union to continue for a long time only as an intention. It must very soon become a complete reality.

Africa must be administered as a federation of all our states. Our federating states must be fully interconnected by a network of roads, railway lines and airlines. It is only then that we can meaningfully hurry up in unity to catch up in economic development with the richest countries of this Earth.
Africa is a huge continent.

Therefore, I know that the infrastructures that can interconnect us into an effective federation will take time to build. But we must start building them and keep pushing on however long it takes us. I am not calling for a Federation of African States as a precondition for economic development in Africa.

While we work towards a Federation of African States, we must do all that is possible to develop the economies of our respective countries. In fact, we have been effectively doing so in the last few years and Africa is now one of the parts of the world whose economic development has been the fastest. And so it should be because Africa is still the poorest part of the world despite its generous natural resources endowment.

Equally important, Africa has shown its determination to avoid the mistakes that have inadvertently been made by the industrialised countries. These mistakes massively polluted the Earth’s atmosphere with greenhouse gases and thus caused the global warming and climate change that is threatening the whole of the biosphere.

In January 2012, African ministers met in Addis Ababa to take an African common position as an input into the Rio+20 Global Summit on Sustainable Development. The African common position that emerged defined Africa’s path towards economic development as one which will minimize atmospheric pollution with greenhouse gases.

In other words, Africa’s accelerating economic growth will be achieved along a green trajectory. Avoiding mistakes is essential for Africa because it is in a hurry to grow its economy at a fast rate and it will thus find it supportive of its efforts not to have to correct mistakes after they have been made but to avoid them in the first place. If Africa leads its economic growth by avoiding foreseeable mistakes, its chances of catching up with the industrialized countries will increase. Therefore, Africa needs to strengthen its research and development capacity to foresee and avoid mistakes.

The most important input into both research and development and economic growth is trained human resource. Each African country must thus give all the attention it can to education at all levels. — The African Executive

Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre-Egziabher is the Director General, Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority.

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