The Two Enemies of the African Renaissance

Lagos - bad news in the market, but life must go on

Lagos – bad news in the markets, but life must go on

It seems that there are two things slowing growth in Africa: bad trade practices and corruption.

Nigeria’s current economic slide provides a word of warning to countries that base themselves too heavily on resources. As oil has plummeted, so has the naira; bad news for Africa as a whole, as so much of this continent’s economy is tied up in exporting basic resources.

Every economist will have a different solution, but it seems obvious that African countries need to open up trade with each other, rather than relying on the West and the East (which are themselves tied together in a dance of feast-and-famine). Let each country’s fiscus feed off, and feed into, the other — and why not? We have the resources, we have the manpower, we have the ingenuity.

Quartz gives a rather gloomy overview of the Nigerian economy, in this article. It looks like bad news, and it is in the short term, but with a shift in thinking maybe we can make lemonade out of this sour situation.

Another major issue is corruption, and it seems that where there is a lot of money, corruption will thrive.

Attempts by Nigeria’s president Buhari to root out corruption resulted last year in the arrest in London of former petroleum minister Diezani Allison-Madueke, and the UK’s National Crime Agency reported that it had arrested and charged a total of five people in connection with bribery and corruption. Corruption at such a high level means that trade and development agreements are being done, not with the country’s best interests at heart, but to benefit the individual. Obviously this is not sustainable.

Could we conceive of a new era in Africa — a true African Renaissance? If every person has the chance to earn an honest buck, and no-one is on the take, surely then there will be growth and prosperity for all.