For decades now, there have been series of unending debates as to whether the African continent is better off united or apart. This phenomenon has led to the rise of several schools of thought probing the feasibility of African unification and assessing whether it is indeed the antidote to curbing the continents worsening woes.
The African continent is regarded as one of the blessed continents in world, abounding in copious resources, fertile land and an extreme array of wild life species. In spite of this, the continent for a long while now has been plagued with high poverty rates, stagnated economic growth and dictatorial reigns which have deprived it of a world power house status and rendered it as a menial brand when it comes to diplomatic and economic affairs.
In forging the way forward, several scholars and leaders over the years have proposed the unification of African countries to provide the continent with a stronger bargaining and economic power to thrive in this hostile diplomatic world and enable it strike good economic deals to benefit its citizens and generations unborn. Why would this work? One can see the many benefits the EU and the United States of America have derived and still continue to derive from their unification. Continents and countries much less resourceful have managed to carve a bigger seat at the table to dictate who gets what at the negotiation table. Can anyone imagine then what Africa would gain should it be united? Major player in the provision of food in the world, of natural minerals, oil, even water, once united, it will be capable of setting prices for these commodities and dictate as well who gets what. This however is where to many others, the benefits end and the arguments against begin.
The diversity in culture, languages, boundary restrictions, and greedy attitudes of leaders not to talk about the slavery mentality and blame-it is that the African people have will no doubt nullify the above effects of unification. Why should we become one entity when in the end all that is going to happen will be a scramble for power which might inadvertently lead to killings and disorientation and then lead to the West intervening? The effect of becoming unified then would be Africa just becoming a bigger baby ever reliant on donations and crumbs.
What is your stance; better off or worse off as a unified Africa?
By: Benjamin Epton Owusu
Hunger, disease, famine and war. These are the left half of the things that pop into minds whenever Africa is portrayed by the international media. The other right half of this list would probably be economic development, growth and change. This right half and left half is the Ying-Yang of the image of Africa created by local and international media and I believe that the right half is not winning as much in this battle. I believe that there is one thing that should be able to add to the ammunition of the right half and contribute to making the image of Africa much more colorful and that is technology.
iHub’s mobile statistic (Google funded research on mobile usage in Africa) shows that the adaptation of mobile technology across both East and West Africa is much more than phenomenon (Okune, 2012). That is to say more Africans are owning more mobile phones than bank accounts. Now, that growth of mobile technology adaptation is slowly moving towards the incorporation of the internet onto these mobile phones. Mobile network providers now provider their users with flexible payment plans to provide their users with mobile internet. As at 2012, there were more than fifty-one million internet users in Africa of which more than three million were from Ghana (Miniwatts Marketting Group, 2014). This number, which has massively grown today, shows that Africa and Africans for that matter, are not left behind in what seems to be the “in thing” for the world today. In Kenya, Mpessa –a mobile payment method – rules as a major payment method for most point-of-sales services in the country. Its adoption especially by the middle and lower classes of the country debunks any thought of illiteracy being the only stumbling block for the adoption of technology in Africa. It (Mpessa) also goes a long way to show that Africa is the fertile ground for technology to thrive and it is doing exactly that. The potential Africa possess through the adoption of technology far exceeds what we see today . Another example of how technology has impacted the image of Africa is the onset of the Arab Springs which used social media such as Twitter and facebook to cause political change in countries like Egypt and Libya. This shows the potential technology has once it is well harnessed in Africa.
Around the world of technology one should notice that there is a lot of emphasis on mobile apps and mobile versions of websites and software. A lot of effort is put into making them much more lightweight and faster to load on low-bandwidth i.e. slow internet connections. This is because there are much more mobile users of technology outside of the USA with much less available bandwidth and in my humble opinion, I believe that Africa was a big part of this industry shift due to its mobile penetration. Africa has had a different approach to technology which has not been experienced anywhere else in the world. Historically, technology grew from Desktop computers, through to laptops and then mobile. This has generally been how the world has adopted tech however Africa had a small desktop phase and then jumped straight to mobile. Is it that the continent has seen something the rest of the world has not or is it just circumstance? I believe the former and I also believe that Africa’s image would be carved out through technology. BY Nathan Fletcher
Miniwatts Marketting Group. (2014, April 25). Internet Usage Statistics for Africa. Retrieved from Internet World Stats: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats1.htm
Okune, A. (2012, November 15). RELEASE OF GOOGLE AND IHUB RESEARCH MOBILE INTERNET USAGE FIELD SURVEY RESULTS FROM KENYA AND GHANA. Retrieved from iHub: http://www.ihub.co.ke/blog/2012/11/release-of-google-and-ihub-research-mobile-internet-usage-field-survey-results-from-kenya-and-ghana/
What has really kept me thinking? Africa has indeed kept me thinking over the years and even much more as I write this argument. I sleep and I wake up but these questions never seem to sleep in my mind as they run through my mind over and over again. Have you ever thought of when Africa is going to be peaceful, dependent, developed and honored globally. I remember back then in Junior High school during our Social Studies classes there were always topics about problems in Africa, disadvantages and the solutions to these problems. After Junior High school, I thought the years ahead would give Africa a new face, nevertheless in Senior High school I was hit with these same issues. Having to go through the cycle of being reminded of the persistent problems facing Africa and the way forward was more of a cliché than an attempt to solve the problems that affected about one billion people.
Just as in the image above the face of Africa has expressed its hunger, thirst, suffering, and struggles with just a tint of hope for far too long. Every now and then I wish this tint of hope will surface enough to make Africa smile. So then where does the problem lie, who or what is the problem and how can it be solved is a question I cannot answer alone but would plead the indulgence of all honored citizens of this continent. Let’s keep this hanging for the time been.
Africans woke up to a new hope of a united Africa. The notion of this new vision and hope sounded very genuine and life changing but “hey” after sometime of being in a pensive mood I realized if Africa is ready to be united. Unity they say brings about victory but one has to know what it takes for people to be united. I would not say the vision of the late president of Libya Muammar Al-Gaddafi is a fallacy even though he did not gain approval from some of his associate leaders in Africa, rather it is a vision that has to be enormously invested into.
The benefits of a united Africa cannot be disregarded. Some people are of the view that a united Africa would bring stability to the continent and also give the continent a strong front to tackle issues concerning the global world. It would also be liberated from the manipulations of other countries to fulfill their desires. As a continent I believe there has to be some form of preparations as to the vision of a united Africa otherwise the repercussions would be appalling and unbearable as we would look confused to the other parts of the world.
One thing I believe Africa has to addresses is conflicts and its management. In Africa there are a lot of tribal, regional and national conflicts that would not help the vision of Africa to be a reality. How can Africa unite if in the smallest villages and towns people see themselves as enemies, Anglophones and Francophones but not Africans. Elections in most parts of Africa are based on political lines and a typical example is what happens in Kenya and Ghana. Moreover I believe for Africa to be united it is paramount for Africans to have a common goal that would be driven by a passion to move Africa forward where leaders would move from the point of caring for themselves and their families and followers fully participating in the affairs of the continent.
I would also like us to be reminded of the requirements of a united Africa. One Africa means one president with ministers, one parliament and one legislative process I might as well add ONE LOVE. To embrace a united Africa is possible but the question is how prepared are we? United States of Africa: To embrace or not to embrace.