Why is Africa, home to sixty percent of the world’s remaining arable land, vast water sources and agro-ecological zones, still food-insecure and net food importer? Africa’s annual food import bill of 35.00 USD billion, which is expected to reach 110.00 USD billion by 2025, is extremely worrying.
My firsthand accounts of seeing malnourished children in Uganda, Kenya, DR Congo, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and Liberia, who form part of the continent’s 250 million undernourished people, casts a gloomy picture of Africa’ agricultural sector.
Forget the rising GDP figures which cunning politicians and economists propagate to advance the African rising narrative, and embark on extensive journey in rural areas of many African countries. The skyrocketing poverty levels you will witness will surprise you. The persistent use of per capita income as a gauge of economic growth should be discarded. It misrepresents the real situation on the ground.
According to GDP figures, Uganda’s economy has from 2017/2018 to 2018/2019 expanded from 25.00 USD billion to 29.00 USD billion. Collaborative government and civil society statistical data however shows that poverty levels have in the same period tremendously increased. This, in essence, implies that the so called economic growth is of no value to the majority of its citizens.
Most African countries are debt-distressed but are still borrowing from World Bank, IMF, China, and other lending institutions to finance roads, standard gauge railways, power and other infrastructural developments that are not translating into the economic wellbeing of the masses. The machinery, manpower and technologies used in these infrastructural projects is imported and a big percentage of the borrowed billions swindled through syndicated corruption involving African leaders and their thieving cronies.
Very few ground-breaking inventions, innovations, and technologies, are being generated by Africa’s academic institutions to spur Africa’s industrial development. Very little investment is accorded to research, a component that can catalyze inventions and innovations that will leapfrog Africa to socio-economic development.
Almost all African leaders are pursuing two personal egoistic agendas: personal and family wealth accumulation on one hand and creation of political systems or dynasties that provide for continued enjoyment of ill-gotten wealth even when not in power. Creating societal wealth is not their main agenda.
In sum, the Africa Rising narrative will only become a reality when the continent will get visionary and transformative leaders who will trigger inclusive growth as opposed to the deceptive GDP growth figures.
By Moses Hategeka,
The author is a Ugandan-based Independent Governance Researcher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer.