A generation of drug users endangers Africa’s future

February 15, 2014

Drug abuse in Africa is growing at an alarming rate with corruption and inadequate law enforcement agencies being blamed for failure to stem the flow of illicit drugs, especially to the continent’s youth. There are an estimated 100 million drug users in Africa and there is growing concerns that if nothing is done soon, a drug crisis could erupt. According to latest statistics from various anti narcotic agents in Africa, the number of drug users is growing on a daily basis, amid easier access to narcotics, much of which is increasingly made inside the continent. An official from South African government’s anti-drugs agency recently told me that drug smuggling and abuse is putting his country future’s in jeopardy as narcotics remain prevalent among the rainbow nation’s youth. In Nigeria, a senior government official said recently the majority of students in that country have resorted to using drugs for different reasons, including family, poverty, peer pressure and school problems. A 2012 study in Kenya found the most common drugs consumed by students were heroin, marijuana and cocaine despite the fact that young people are responsible for the country’s future development.

Nightclubs and drug dens in countries like South Africa and elsewhere in Africa are routinely raided to detect drugs on revelers, but studies have shown corrupt law enforcers tip off venue operators ahead of raids for thousands of dollars in return. The failure to tackle the drug menace could curtail Africa’s future development and young generation drug addiction could endanger this continent’s life in the future. The youth, as the generation should continue the legacy of African independence leaders but sadly are being increasingly vulnerable due to addictive substances that destroy their senses. Access to illegal drugs is becoming increasingly easy, contributing to their widespread use. For example, research shows that in Angola, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria drug sellers have been infusing addictive substances into cakes, cigarettes, which are sold to students as young as those in elementary school, who try it out of curiosity. And this shows that efforts to protect children against the dangers of illegal drugs are far from effective.

There is a need to differentiate between drug users and drug dealers and stern action needs to be taken against drug dealers. In almost all African countries, drug dealers and drug users are incarcerated. African prisons are notorious known for drug use just like other parts of the world and this approach definitely needs to be revised. Contador Harrison thinks that it would not be ideal to place young drug users in the same setting as hard-core criminals, especially drug dealers. In developed and emerging world, drug users, mostly first-time offenders are placed in rehabilitation centers giving them an opportunity to reform their lives and save their future. Me think that drug dealers, should be dealt with mercilessly and the full force of the law must be applied. The battle against drugs is a battle for the future of this beautiful continent of more than 1 billion people. African governments and other stakeholders cannot afford to take this grave problem too lightly.

Contador Harrison