Five biggest challenges facing Africa

June 16, 2017

Africa faces similar challenges affecting the rest of world but as we enter the second half of 2017, it’s worth sharing the great shifts and challenges facing Africa, and what Africa is doing in partnership with other regions to maintain peace, build prosperity and enhance sustainability for the future. The five biggest challenges include terrorism, wars and conflicts, environmental issues which is clearly about climate change and global warming. The other two are economic and financial issues especially poverty and the gap between the rich and poor and over-population and unemployment. Although very common challenges, religion, immigration, human rights, government and politics as well as leadership are mentioned as being Africa’s other biggest problems but didn’t make among the top five of your blogger’s analysis. Social Issues are also facing Africa including social apathy and family breakdowns, selfishness and moral decline, drugs and drug abuse, anger and violence.I start with the continuation of global financial instability. While the worse economic crisis may have passed, underlying problems remain with a good example being the recent downgrade of South Africa economy to junk status. The sheer size, complexity and interconnectedness of private financial markets now challenge the ability of any individual African country government to monitor and properly regulate them. In addition, the capacity of African governments collectively to intervene in the face of further economic crises is minimal because of the increasing level of public indebtedness with key examples being Kenya and Nigeria.At the moment African countries need to work on how they should be running lower debt with a clear and disciplined path back to surplus. But work on the continental agenda lies ahead if Africa is to avoid commodity crises in countries like Angola and Nigeria that are reliant on oil revenue or Zambia which largely relies on copper.The other challenge of proliferation of terrorists groups. Despite recent, positive reduction of such terror incidents that have mainly affected West, North and East regions of Africa, the problem hasn’t gone away. The destructive power of terror groups is beyond comprehension. The suspected proliferation activities of such groups in Somalia, Mali, Cameroon, Egypt and Nigeria are profoundly destabilising. That’s why African countries need to remain active in the security of the continent agenda.

Although not among the top challenges in my analysis, I must point out that internet revolution which has benefited African countries as productivity and prosperity have been enhanced by the new technologies. Sadly, the new weapons created for use in cyber attacks, threatening the security of the infrastructure of both corporations and African countries relates to a further challenge in the continuing and mutating threat of war and conflicts in the continent. African countries must remain active in addressing political and economic factors, including poverty, that fuel wars and conflicts like is the case with Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Somalia among others, just as they must recognise that there are forms of militant extremism that will never respond to reason with good example being Eastern parts of Democratic Republic of Congo and can only be dealt with through the hard-edged efforts of security and intelligence agencies, otherwise wars and conflicts will not end anytime soon in the continent. The other challenge relates to environmental issues which directly affects food security, energy security and climate change. These are inter-related with the loss of arable land, the growing demand for energy resources from emerging economies in the continent like Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana. Also, environmental impact assessments and bureaucracy is impeding the large-scale development of the renewable energy sector. For climate change in particular, the clock still ticks and some African countries are still focused on high polluting energy solution. For African countries to address this challenge, it will require both regional and continental action. As I conclude, the other challenge African countries must address is poverty. More than half of Africa human family lives on $1 a day or less.Effective aid and trade policy are core elements in Africa poverty reduction, good in itself, ideal for the African economy and important for regional stability, and good for Africa. In addition, there is the continuing Africa democratic deficit. Freedom is not enjoyed everywhere in Africa. Where democracy does exist, it’s often under challenge. African countries must continue to work hard to help extend the tent of democracy in the continent. The recent elections in Somalia demonstrated that when those in power have the will to accept change, democracy will always triumph and when it does, then good governance follows which is central to dealing with practically all the above challenges including unemployment. African countries need to continue to work to enhance the effectiveness of democratic institutions.

Contador Harrison