African Union(Image: AU) Written By: Nchimunya Muvwende
We had just landed in that country after a 10 hour flight from the beautiful continent of Africa. As the air hostess made the final disembarking announcements, there seemed to be one persistent statement she kept repeating. She announced that those that came from an African country that had Ebola should be first to disembark so that they can be severely screened.
Since only a few blacks were on that flight, all eyes were on us and people wondered why we sat still. The lady went on to call out the names of the passengers and they moved from their seats as though taking a walk of shame. With my colleagues, we took advantage of this time to disembark from the plane before it was congested and join in solidarity with our fellow Africans.
The discovery of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 in Africa and the reaction of the western countries that
rushed to ban only African countries out of all countries having the new variant worldwide from traveling to certain countries made me wonder whether African cannot stand on their own. In the words of Dr Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, co-chairperson of the Africa Union’s African Vaccine Delivery Alliance she argued that had the first Covid-19 virus, the one first identified in China in 2019 originated in Africa, it is clear the world would have locked us away and thrown away the key. If the world was so quick to react in a harsh and negative manner, what guarantee can
Africa have that their interest will be prioritized at the world scene?
Despite the many educated Africans and the traditional medicine experts, why is it that so far, no vaccine or cure has come from Africa, 2 years after the emergence of the pandemic? This therefore calls for an introspection and ask whether solutions cannot originate from Africa.
Before civilization and the coming of pharmaceutical medicines, Africans had ways of identifying medicines they could use to deal with various illnesses. When a new disease was discovered, the people vested with knowledge in the African society could rise to the occasion and attempt to find a solution.
But why is it that in the 21 st century, Africans now find it easy to simply wait for solutions from the western countries and possibly want it donated to them? Where are the old men and women who used local resources to find remedies to deal with diseases that affect their people? Does it mean that nothing good can come from Africa and there is always a need for approval in everything?
These are but challenging questions that Africans should beginning addressing. There is nothing wrong with working together as a globe to solve world problems but when it seems our survival is at the mercy of others hence making us vulnerable, there is need to rethink our usefulness. Since not even one vaccine has so far been manufactured in Africa, what will happen if we can no longer access the produced vaccines?
There is no doubt that Africans, working individually and collectively are capable of being part of the solution. Let us not sideline the local experts, solutions and resources in anticipation that help will come from only the developed countries.
Local economic activities
The pandemic disrupted global supply chains and this affected the production capacities of many companies and many people lost their source of livelihoods. Many African countries are heavily import dependent and rely what they import for trade and consumption. However, with the closure of borders to Africans, for how long will Africans survive if the closures are prolonged?
It is like Africa has gone back to the pre-independence days where most products where either foreign owned or had to be imported. It is time to reconsider the import substitute policies where nations began to produce goods that were similar to that which they had for so long imported. Through these, industries were created, employed increased and trade improved. Perhaps the selective closure reminds countries of the need to learn to be self-reliant in certain things.
Lessons can be picked from the development of China in the 1970s when they looked for inward solutions by using their own people, resources and expertise to develop and the results are there for all to see. Let us promote intra-Africa trade, production and expertise so that we change the narrative of going to the negotiating table as beggars. Let not the outside world be prioritized at the expense of African nations because it is this division that reduces our bargaining potential.
Impact on tourism
Africa happens to offer one of the best tourism services because of the abundance of natural and wild resources it is blessed with and with this, employment and incomes can generated to benefit many. The industry contributed to 7.1 percent of the African GDP in 2019 and anticipated to bring in billions in revenues in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic almost collapsed the industry when international tourists could not travel. The industry has a heavy reliance on international tourist arrivals and its growth is then premised on the activities on these tourists.
The question that begs an answer is, when God placed the various wild animals, natural resources, water bodies and the beautiful tourist attracting features in Africa, did he envisage that these should depend on foreigners for Africans to benefit? It is time to promote local tourists and ensure that intra Africa tourism is boosted. It is common to find that many citizens within countries have never visited local sites but this narrative needs to change. Create packages that locals can afford, increase advertisement within countries and put policies that will help industry players to survive. The international tourists should not be prioritized alone but the local people need to be incentivized.
Can Africa stand alone is not a question of ability but a choice to explore our potential. Africa has always had the potential to become a force to reckon with, however, the challenge has mainly been the belief that to develop, it needs to follow the path laid down by the advanced countries. Collaboration with the rest of the world should continue and be strengthened, but this not sideline inward looking approaches for development.
Prof. Remi Duyile on Nigeria 2023 election and advice to the youths
Prof. Remi Duyile, Founder Legacy Premier Foundation
As Nigerians are gearing up and campaigning for the 2023 election begins, Business Africa Online asked Prof. Remi Duyile share her thoughts on what this election means to her and why everyone must be involved, why we cannot afford to get it wrong this time around, and advice to the youths. Excerpts.
I held a political role in Nigeria a few years ago, which provided me with a good understanding of the country’s political institutions. As we approach another year in the political chapters of Nigerian history, we must not only look forward with expectations but also reflect on our previous experiences in order to identify and choose the right leaders for our future.
We’ve all heard the saying “,those who fail to learn from history are likely to repeat it.” With elections approaching, it is critical that we look back and critically examine not only the people, but also the patterns that have led us here. We cannot build the Nigeria we want without learning from the past and making the necessary adjustments while preparing for the future. It takes time for change to occur, just like Rome did not rise overnight. Nevertheless, now is the time to lay the foundation for the Nigeria we seek to build, tomorrow.
There may be a question in your mind as to what these foundations are. There is first of all a sense of worth and worthiness in life. For any nation to fully develop, it must place a high value on the lives of its residents. As we prepare for the next elections, we must question which of these candidates prioritizes the worth of life and a sense of being Nigerian citizens. This includes: freedom of speech, equality and democratic processes at all levels. This is a priority because unless the worth of life and a sense of self are prioritized above all else, even the best-looking prospects will ultimately become unyielding and dictatorial.
Secondly, there is the growth of human capital and socioeconomic empowerment. It is common knowledge that every industrialized country prioritizes these two factors. No nation is more powerful than its economic potential. Our leaders must be intentional about this. Being a producing nation is one way to successfully enforce this. Nigeria is a great country, yet we are unable to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
All human capacities that can help to improve our economy include the capacity to create, invent, strategize, and engage. To think for ourselves, to maximize the potential of our teeming young people, to generate opportunities and employment, all of these are vital for progress and must be prioritized if we are to see any change in our nation.
Tapping into African Diaspora
By: Nchimunya Muvwende (Photo: ADN)
In a famous quote, an author penned down the words “No matter where you go, always remember the road that will lead you home.” There are many Africans that left their countries in search of green pastures in the diaspora but it seems that they have become so comfortable with developing the already advanced countries and do not seem to remember their roots. While foreign investors are rushing to invest in the opportunities present in Africa, very few foreign based Africans do the same but rather focus on helping family members through remittances that have no sustainable impact. This status quo is not helpful and there is a need to harness a working relationship between nations and their people that live abroad in order to have inclusive development.
Harnessing diaspora resources
Many African countries are highly indebted and much of this debt arises from the ambitious development projects that governments are undertaking to improve the livelihoods of their people. Most projects cost more money than countries can manage to mobilize domestically and so, the countries are forced to depend on external aid and loans that are sometimes tied to adverse conditions.
On the flip side, there are many diaspora based Africans who have raised enough resources which when invested back in their countries, the rising debt crises could be mitigated. To do this, there is a need to provide specific incentives for the foreign based Africans so as to attract their resources to be invested in their home countries. Doing so will come with many benefits such as reduced dependency on borrowing, money remaining within countries hence stabilizing exchange rates, employment creation, economic growth and basically improved wellbeing of the people. It should be noted that no one will prioritise the development of Africa except its people regardless of where they are based and so, measures need to be taken to engage the children of the African soil.
Nations need to appeal to their people to remember those they left back home and think of ways of improving their livelihoods. It goes without saying that it is important to look strategically, systematically and critically at the diaspora’s role in the African development matrix and engage the huge reservoir of human and financial capital found in the large African diaspora.
Investment not remittances
When you give a child fish, they would still come back for more but if you build them a fish pond, teach them how to earn an income, the dependence syndrome reduces. There are many Africans that are in the diaspora that earn decent incomes and have to always remit funds to their families back home. However, this has created a continued financial dependence that has not necessarily improved livelihoods as it is not a sustainable source of income for the people back home.
The World Bank statistics show that remittances from the diaspora are estimated at about $87 billion annually and these amounts actually exceed official development assistance to Africa. Why always beg for help when Africans in the diaspora have more resources? It is time that the many Africans domiciled across the world begin to think of how they can reinvest their incomes into building businesses that will benefit not only their families but their countries as a whole. When critically analyzing cost factors, it would be cheaper to set up a business in an African country than in western countries.
This is because the cost of labor, availability of ready market and investment incentives are more pronounced in many African jurisdictions. It should be a source of concern that foreigners find it easier to invest in Africa than it is for the Africans who left the continent for greener pastures to think of taking back the resources to their roots. Imagine if every diaspora based African thought establishing at least one business in their home countries using mobilized resources and using the skills and knowledge gained, the development of Africa will be more pronounced. It is time to convert remittances into Foreign Direct Investments in order to grow African economies and deal with pressing challenges.
Most of the western countries have advanced skills and knowledge and attract the best minds around the world, inclusive of the many diaspora based Africans. There is a need to create effective diaspora networks that can help replicate, transfer and build the knowledge to actualize Africa’s potential. There is a need for building capacity in the management of businesses. Financial prudency, sourcing financing among other skills in the people in Africa and this is a role the African diaspora could take up when effectively engaged. In addition, they can help create opportunities for Africans to acquire skills and knowledge from the best schools and experts and use this to develop Africa. The networks could help create market linkages for the many products produced in their home countries.
The abundance of natural resources and wildlife make Africa a good and attractive tourist destination but the lack of effective advertisement and expensive costs have hindered reaping benefits. The African diaspora needs to be engaged more in marketing their home countries, and this could come at almost no cost because word of mouth advertisement is rated the best.
African Governments should not look at the African diaspora as deserters of their continent but rather as ambassadors that could be instrumental in dealing with the many challenges faced in their home countries. This calls for effective engagement with the African diaspora. In the same vein, the African diaspora should be reminded to remember the road that leads to their roots and that if they do not take part in uplifting the lives of their people, financial burdens will keep falling on them. Therefore, working on a win-win situation will be the best way to achieve a prosperous African continent.
Presidential Candidates Nigerians should not consider voting for in 2023 – Adaku Efuribe
Nigerians would be going to the polls in 2023 to elect a new president. I have written a lot of articles in the past regarding qualities of a great leader, but going by the understanding of most Nigerians, it would be more sensible to discuss the character of candidates not suitable for the job to enable us to separate the goat from the sheep so to say.
In solving mathematical equations, we sometimes use elimination methods to arrive at the correct answer. if we all know who we shouldn’t vote for, perhaps we could pinpoint who the possible suitable candidates are.
If we want to improve our economy and place Nigeria in its rightful place in world affairs then we must make conscious effort to ensure people with certain character flaws do not come anywhere close to the office of the president
Nigerians must not consider voting for candidates with the following character flaws/history.
Some of the candidates who have declared interest have been known to tell false tales to Nigerians in the past. A good example is a notorious fella who once made Nigerians doubt their cognitive ability. A few thought they actually suffered from short term amnesia. I wouldn’t tell you who to vote for but do not vote for liars, especially the one that woke up one morning shouting enough is enough! he went ahead to say he would be staging a protest against the present Government, he talked about a dream he had in which God revealed to him what he must do…Then the next day ..he said he wasn’t referring to this Government.
Anyone who has been involved in advance free fraud, misappropriation of public funds or lack of accountability must not be voted for if we want to move forward in this country. A leopard cannot change its spots. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
People with unaccountable wealth
Any candidate who cannot explain the source of their wealth is not to be trusted. Some people just spring up from nowhere to tell us God made them rich and no one can comprehend their source of wealth. We have had public servants who could not give account of the budget of their former office or keep an open book on how they spent public funds, such people will only continue to loot the treasury if given the opportunity.
Aspirants who do not believe in cutting down the cost of Governance
The GDP in Nigeria has depreciated over the last 8 years and part of the reason why we cannot come out of economic hardship is the cost of Governance. We spend a lot of money on the welfare of elected Government officials and legislators, more than most developed countries. There is definitely something wrong somewhere. Any candidate who does not believe in cutting down the cost of governance will only do one thing i.e.- continue to use public funds to fund their lavish lifestyle while the masses die of hunger and economic hardship.
Aspirants with no proven track record of effective leadership
Anyone who does not have any proven track record of leadership should not dream of becoming Nigeria’s next president. This country has sunk really low and we don’t have to operate anymore experiments. We don’t need the usual ‘I can do’ attitude. It’s either the proven experience is there or not.
Once again, the power would be placed in your hands to redecide the trajectory of our beloved country Nigeria. I intend to vote and my vote must count this time around. I know exactly who I will be voting for as I do not operate with sentiments. For us to see our country rise up again from the dunghill, I enjoin you all to have an open mind and consider the future of this country with any decision you make.
Article by Adaku Efuribe, Health Promotion Ambassador/Political analyst.