Which are Africa’s chances for development? Can African economy get stronger? The answer is… maybe.
African economy should aim to three main intervention areas: technology – which is already giving good solutions in lots of sectors -, agriculture – mostly underused – and China’s economic support – maybe the only one which can suggest a new development model.
In Africa 2 in 3 people are farmers and 50% of them are women. However, there haven’t been great investments in the agricultural activity. Obviously, it’s not simple to work the soil in sub-Saharan area: water availability, worsening climate conditions and the difficulty of accessing the market are all difficulties, which 80% of African farmers can’t face. When talking about agriculture in Africa, we must also talk about new kinds of neo-colonialism – first, the land grabbing – and about problems caused by roads, which are not adequate, and vehicles transporting food, which can’t guarantee a cooling chain.
We have already talked about China and its investments in Africa. It buys lands and use them to produce food for its domestic market. Depending on how this phenomenon can be seen from a political point of view, this process can be considered as an exchange between two economic partners, or as a kind of land grabbing.
Finally, technology. Lots of books dwell on the excellent experience of African start-ups, on their dynamism and their exponential growth. This is unfortunately a superficial overview. Obviously, there are some successful experiments, such as MPESA, Esoko and Copia Global – which we are going to talk about later –, but reality is somehow different. When examining the subject deeply, it is difficult to measure success.
However, a certain method emerges: in Africa technology wins when created to fulfil local context’s typical needs. It succeeds when finding African solutions to local problems.
When it imitates western countries’ methods, it risks being useless.