Ejike E Okpa II of The OKPA Co., Dallas, Texas explores Africa's challenges and how the continent can reposition herself to benefit from emerging and developed economies.
Q. What are the unexploited internal opportunities in Africa?
Q. How can Africa exploit these opportunities?
Develop its human capital and invest in domestic production and consumption, exporting and importing only those goods and services necessary to give her an edge.
Q. What opportunities do Africa's interaction with the rest of the world offer to Africa?
Nothing except Africa develops a sense of firmness and unapologetic in seeking and demanding the best win-win deals for her. Africa has been interacting with the world longer than most. But it has been mostly a weak partner yielding to others as if she is a step continent open to be exploited by anyone that so chooses. A continent that bears the scars of slavery and enslavement of her people because it yielded to pressure from outside and never stood up to fight to discourage mistreatment of her people.
Q. How can Africa effectively tap into the opportunities above?
Firm and effective leadership devoted to making Africa respective countries successful. Africa in a general and global sense is elusive. Countries should get away from the general sense and seek relationships and deals that best benefit them. When Africa is taken on a general sense, it dilutes and often misleads each individual country's needs as everyone is lumped together. Africans tend to think in general instead of specific, overlooking and not minding there are 53 odd nations all with unique nature and character.
Q. What internal challenges hinder development in Africa?
Bad and ineffectual leadership often seeing leaders acting and behaving as if they are beholding for some foreign interests. Such leaders in Africa mistreat their nation by oppressing and suppressing ideas and discouraging opposition. Most leadership in Africa are timid and weakened by perceived and often acted out sense of inferiority that is easily taken advantage of by other foreign governments. When one bows not out of respect but due to timidity and inferiority complex, they are stepped on all over. Africa's leaders appear as door mats willing and laid down for anyone to brush their feet. It does not matter the type of government, if the individual is weak, no amount of government structure works. Africa's leaders should convey confidence and sense of determined goal to only pursue agenda and programs domestically and internationally suited for their country. The beggar approach is a killer.
Q. What external challenges hinder Africa from development?
Perception that Africa is weak not on resources but on its most important asset, human capital. The factors of production and profitability is dependent on a well developed human capital. Africa places weight on its natural resources and use their human capital as labor only for the benefit of foreign interests. Due to human nature, weak nations are exploited; it has nothing to do with morals. Until Africa develops capable human capital in all aspects of human needs and are persons with unyielding content that only pursue deals that makes all win-win, Africa will always be taken and fleeced.
Q. Can Africa take charge of her own development?
Yes and it must without apology to any except obeying and giving credence to rules that everyone obeys. Human capital is biggest and best asset for development, and they must be enhanced. Digging holes all over Africa for minerals will not develop Africa except such is matched with equal determination to enhance the human capital and content.
Suggest the strategies that Africa can apply to take charge of her development.
Human Capital is priority number 1. With well developed human capital, not just hands to produce but hands to negotiate, promote, preserve and protect, a nation will be readied to take on its domestic and international challenges. Confidence is an asset that exudes ability by inculcating sense of direction and purpose, for common and greater good. And only when that exists in measurable and quantifiable levels can a people begin to feel 'they can do'. Africans often do not feel confident, and as a result bow to outside pressures on a first go round.