A giant is someone or something unusually large and powerful but is this really the case with Africa?
What are true giants like China who have the world’s biggest economies doing?
There are six drivers that will determine the fate of the world including Africa by 2035 where land, water, food and energy will be uncertain; they are Economic, Social, Political, Environmental, Cultural and Technological drivers. In a scenario called Drought Robot, here is how these drivers could play out globally:
The world is moving from a bipolar world system to an asymmetric multiple system, with no superpower capable of acting and exerting significant influence at a global level.
America’s retreat as the global “policeman” will lead to emergence of rogue states that will threaten not only continental peace but also risk a return to global war through unchecked use of nuclear weapons.
Globally, there is no consensus on how to tackle issues like food security and access to safe water for all citizens whether from rich or poor countries on account of growing population.
The major gap in some of the world’s biggest economies like China, India and US creates challenges in the security of both human livelihood and the environment especially food security and availability of fresh water.
As leading universities continue to make greater breakthroughs in the field of science and technology, on account of scarce skill sets and financial resources only available to rich developed countries, the gap between them and academic institutions in the rest of the world continues to grow which explains why Africa only contributes about 1% of global scientific output.
Also, use of substances to ensure food is grown quicker is resorted to as a result of shortages even at the detriment of the human health.
With the growing demand for energy and natural resources as a result of higher living standards, there’s an increased strain on the environment.
70% of the global population will live in urban areas exacerbating air pollution, transport congestion and waste management by 2035.
Human culture will face extinction or evolve in a way that most will lose the unique competitive advantage as people see themselves more as global citizens and a platform which enables everyone to contribute and access is created.
A study recently showed that young people in Africa who joined rebel or extremist movements cited lack of employment as a major motivation for their choice.
Advances in robotics will result in less human jobs and as a result less human contact.
Advances in green energies like biofuels will fuel the rise in prices of food globally.
The same global trends suggesting a dark and difficult near future termed drought robot despite the progress of recent decades, also bear within them opportunities for a hopeful and secure future which is Sunshine robot and the end state includes;
- Flourish from cradle to grave as there is increased awareness about the importance of a clean environment among citizens around the world.
- Better spatial planning of urban spaces. More and more people are becoming city dwellers with more than 70% of the world’s inhabitants projected to be living in urban spaces by 2050.
- Nutritious food- There will be availability of food globally as well as abundance of water resources due to evolving technology like hydroponics which is the science of growing plants without soil and other methods such as aquaponics, aeroponics, and others by 2035.
- Water and power in abundance as global reliance on fossil based energy sources will be reduced with a bigger emphasis on different forms of renewable energy sources.
- Robots do hard labour- The use of virtual reality imaging being used creates life-like experiences thus optimizing efficiency and productivity.
- Responsible use of technology and regulation used to enable innovation
How does these global trends affect Africa, much less determine the end state of Africa by 2035? These global drivers influence Africa under two categories; Generation Jobless and Generation Unbound
What is it we are doing wrong now that will lead us to Generation Jobless or a catastrophic end by 2035.
The scramble for Africa’s natural resources like oil and minerals will result in the case where resource demand will exceed supply.
In this race for resources, global powers like China and the US will through reshaped aid – usually paying large bribes to key decision makers- seek to privatize Africa’s resource bounty and place it in the hands of multinational corporations.
The race for arable land to grow biofuel crops is underway as report shows that 11 British companies owned close to 1.5 million hectares of land for biofuel production in Africa as at 2011.
With 200 million Africans between the ages of 14 and 24, the continent stares in the face a huge problem of youth unemployment.
Low levels of investment in health by most African countries have resulted in weak health systems that lack the capacity to respond to emergencies. This is why elites even political leaders in Africa seek medical help abroad and leave the masses to the dilapidated structures of local hospitals.
Diseases like Malaria continue to wreak havoc on millions across Sub-Saharan Africa and the trend will continue, especially in temperate regions on account of climate change and global warming.
As the battle for resources heats up, multinationals seek to consolidate mineral-rich areas leading to contestations with African states.
The US, Chinese and some European governments In order to protect their interests view these cross-border tensions as a threat to their survival and intervene militarily.
African leaders supportive of these interests are installed into government.
Oceans have become toilets that do not flush. (Insert image of waste/ debris in the ocean)
Mother nature and her kids have been invaded with saws and machetes.
(Insert images of trees being cut down).
Due to lack of urgent action, climate change hits an irrevocable tipping point in which feedback loop leads to growing negative effects no matter what action to mitigate are taken.
In Africa, parts of the continent become uninhabitable- and become sites for dumping massive amounts of electronic waste leading to radiation and lead poisoning of local populations.
As the scramble for resources heats up, ethnic and cultural identities become more and more important.
An elite global multiculturalism solidifies, based on access to resources.
Those with power- even small amounts- deify oppressive cultural practices that maintain that power.
Social vulnerability gaps increase as there is no space for individually crafted identity.
The failure to increase investment in renewables leads to climate change tipping over. Africa becomes dumping ground of nuclear and electronic waste. Artificial intelligence replaces much manual labour leaving work only for the educated and technologically savvy leading to major job losses.
Digital divides grow as Africa fails to invest in building the skills of their potential workforce in tech industry.
Africans can see the technological future but simply cannot access it – driving up social frustration.
By 2035, positive outcomes termed Generation Unbound awaits us in the different sectors and they are the following;
ECONOMIC: There is an economic boom in Africa made possible by the good policies and efficient implementation by African governments in cooperation with private partners and regional bodies .
Trade restriction and distortions in world agricultural markets has been corrected.
Measures adopted and implemented to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets.
Also, universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services has been achieved.
Less malnutrition deaths and stunted growth in African children has resulted in increased economic productivity of the continent.
African agricultural productivity and product quality has increased.
The land redistribution policies adopted by African countries have led to efficient and equitable land use across the continent.
Fair treatment of agriculture workers in Africa has led to Increases output and innovation that has drastically increased on-farm and off-farm productivity leading to an increased average household income for rural families.
African economies are now so robust that they are resilient to financial speculation.
Through collaborative efforts by African governments, the AU Science Commission for Africa is able to fund a continent-wide 10- year project that eventually yields a vaccine for Malaria, the hitherto leading cause of death for many Africans.
African political systems adopting new thinking has led to the improvement of advanced and integrated water, food, land and environmental management systems resulting in the creation of more than 500 million new jobs.
African governments have adopted and implemented successful conflict mitigation and resolution policies that have seen natural resource-based conflicts eradicated.
African countries are now more resilient to external shocks due to geopolitics or external financial crises.
Deliberate decisions by African governments to balance between bio-fuel crops attributes to the abundance of food security and sustainable natural resources.
Laws and regulations around green taxes and fossil fuels encouraging environmental protection are now the norm.
Reduced water pollution and desalination have seen the increase in fresh water supply.
Recycling has become ingrained in people’s way of life.
Physical borders are no longer a deterrent to movement and trans-boundary cultural alliances in the form of marriage and other forms of cooperation are now the norm leading to free movement and acceptance of foreign labour.
The culture of business has changed due to pressure on global corporations to adopt sustainable business practices.
African people have become accustomed to genetically modified foods.
Due to technological advancements, Africa is now able to fight disease and more able-bodies young men and women are contributing to the continent’s well-being.
Governments in conjunction with local and global private companies has been able to train millions of Africans sufficient computer skills that has seen a surge in innovation and connectivity.
Solar and wind technology have improved drastically and now in use across the continent.
How would human development outcomes look like in Generation Jobless?
- Early childhood development:
Due to rapid urbanization, most families rely on fast foods and survive on high calorie, low nutritional value foods. This leads to poor maternal nutrition, leading to low birth weight and key micronutrient deficiencies, leading to a higher burden of disease in childhood.
-Health systems fail to deliver good maternal and infant health care.
– Families experience financial strain, reducing their ability to provide responsive care.
-Children face constant threats to their safety as they are most vulnerable to air pollution and exposure to chemicals, a growing reality in their new urban environments.
- Life Expectancy:
By 2035 average life expectancy of vulnerable groups is 45 years of age.
Young people, with no prospects of employment, turn to substances to cope with daily life.
- Alcohol and drugs – often of poor quality, cut with harsh chemicals leads to increasing levels of violence by young men, accidental deaths on the road, and a significant increase in femicide.
- Whole communities are wiped out by new viruses and natural disasters, with no ability for health systems to respond.
- High burden of non-communicable diseases grow rapidly as diets are denuded of nutritional value.
- Access (Education, Skills development, Opportunity)
Access to meagre resources, opportunities and life-chances are policed by elite groups often the politically and militarily connected.
- There’s limited access to quality education. With access to quality education (primary, secondary and tertiary) limited, it means that not everyone eligible will be able to receive their desired educational attainment. The state’s inability to deliver quality education leads to a proliferation of private for-profit education providers.
- Opportunities are exploitative. Private industries – losing trust in the public system – import their own skills, and use robots and AI for ‘low skill’ jobs. It becomes aspirational to become a digital ‘microjobber’ – filling the gaps between what AI systems can do and emerging needs.
- Desperate government employment schemes. Governments massively expand their militaries in order to create opportunities for frustrated young people to be contained, and earn a meagre salary.
- Opportunity for innovation and enterprise is limited to elites. Elite classes, preserving opportunities to education, employment and other life improving enterprises for a select minority, deprives themselves from maximizing and harnessing the full potential of all its citizens.
- Fertility rates climb. As educational access, and access to economic opportunity, is limited fertility rates (which had been reducing for some time) start to climb again; and populations grow despite the decreasing life expectancy. This drives up population growth, leading to further stretching of already thin resources.
- INCOME/ LIVING STANDARD:
In conditions of extreme constraints on human development, catastrophic weather and climate changes, and massive changes in access to food, water, land and energy, incomes and living standards face dramatic changes:
- Inequality skyrockets. As more and more benefits of human development accrue to the wealthy and are missing for the majority, inequality across the continent widens dramatically.
- Incomes fall dramatically in real terms. Due to state collapse, and thus privatization, all basic services (education, health etc) are expensive.
- Poverty levels rise dramatically. At current projections, while the percentage of Africa’s population living in poverty is set to decrease, there could be as many as 170 million poor Africans, subsisting on less than $1.90 per day.
- Saving and investing is not worth it. Citizens who are prone to the risk of early death are discouraged from saving and investing their resources.
Whatever form culture takes, it is ultimately ever changing.
- Under Generation Jobless, Culture becomes entrenched, static, and divisive.
- Elite multiculturalism thrives; while local power is reified.
- Individual creative expression is crushed. In a harsh, relentless, struggle for survival creative expression is either overtly oppressed, or strangled out of existence through poverty and disillusionment. Arts as protest is quickly crushed. Human individual identity is broken down.
Despite all the negative outcomes under Generation Jobless, in a Generation Unbound Africa by 2035, human development outcomes could look as follows;
- Early Childhood development: As diverse, healthy, fresh foods increasingly become abundant, and cheap to access, maternal and child nutrition levels will reach optimal levels.
- Effective primary healthcare system ensures quality ante-natal support for all women. Hospitals and clinics are well stocked with medicine and efficiently operated such that they deliver good maternal and infant healthcare.
- An employed and stable adult generation are able to provide responsive and engaged care for their children.
- Children are safe and secure.
- Early learning is a continental priority and universal access to play-based learning is achieved by 2035.
- Life Expectancy
In 2035 Africans on average, will be living much longer—up to 80 years on average. This will be made possible by the following developments:
- Improved access to healthy foods, non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are reduced.
- Well-governed, highly functional, public health systems become the norm across the continent.
- Increasing economic and social inclusion, and wellbeing in society, leads to improvement in overall mental health.
- Access (Education, Skills Development, Opportunity)
- All children access quality basic education.
- New fields of skills development – crucial to harnessing the potential of the 4th industrial revolution – are prioritized, alongside investments into human wellbeing through arts education.
- Labour productivity grows through embracing new technologies, and rejecting exploitative labour practices.
- African-led scientific breakthroughs become commonplace.
- Income/Living Standard:
- Incomes of the poor and middle class rise and inequality falls. Through improved governance, the windfall of a growing economy accrues largely to the poorest 40% of the population, rather than the wealthy. Over time this dramatically reduces income inequality.
- Social welfare programmes and schemes are in place for the most vulnerable. Those unable to work for reasons such as diminished capacity due to injury, the disabled and the old, are seen as valuable members of society and are supported by strong social welfare, social housing, and social protection schemes.
- Urbanisation is well managed, with strong public investments into formal housing and public transport.
- Savings and investments grow.
- A renaissance of the arts will emerge. Traditional qualities of culture will be reinforced by the cosmopolitanism resulting from Africa investing into its best talent and attracting that from abroad.
- Egalitarianism and multiculturalism flourishes. Ethnic and religious divides begin to take on less significance as all people begin to flourish. Societies become less dogmatic and hierarchical, allowing for the free flow of ideas, innovations, perspectives, and expressions.
- Africans, through cinema, photography, fashion and other outlets own and define our culture. Global perspectives on the continent shift, and it becomes a defining force in global culture – on its own terms.
The question now is, how do we get there? How do we as a continent achieve what seems like an unfeasible breakthrough. Is it just for the government to handle or do we all have a part to play?
Well, here is your answer;
Current and future young leaders providing leadership from across key domains in African government, academia, private sector, science, civil society, media, and culture should enact the following strategies to capture the following drivers seen in Generation Unbound and mitigate the risks of realising Generation Jobless.
- Young leaders in government, private sector, legal and investment sectors should drive forward thinking agreements by promoting free movement of labour, free trade, open and tokenised capital markets.
- Africa should reinforce its position in the multilateral system through regionalism.
- Africa in 2035 can have a rebranding/ an image leagues apart from the needy and impoverished Africa on display in global cultural productions with the right cultural and commercial savvy.
- Implementation of social safety net, health investment and universal basic income to guarantee high standard of living.
- Obstacles to holding dual-citizenship must be removed and diaspora professionals should be encouraged to return to and invest in the continent in a bid to rebrand Africa.
- Investment and innovation in education as education leaders develop a platform for world class human capital focused on achieving 100 percent literacy with emphasis on science, technology and engineering making Africa the centre of convergence of the world’s best and brightest.
How long are we going to keep drinking bottles of olive oil and chewing mustard seeds, wishing for change to happen?
A thriving and prosperous future awaits us as Africans if we only take the initiative to rebuild the Africa of our dreams.