Africa at the cross roads : the dictionary of emergence

  • Tuesday, Mar 24 2015
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A june 2013, in Libreville, was held the second annual reunion of the New York Africa Forum. Gathering hundreds of economic and political officials ; entrepreneurs; decision makers; visionaries and specialists from the five continents,

the presentation and the debates focusing on the conditions of the opportunities (for development) which are offering themselves on the African continent and how they can be converted into realities.

A vector of communication and political cohesion at regional level, the Forum opened with the Inauguration of extraordinary summit of the CEMAC in presence of six African Heads of State, and was closed with a face to face between the Presidents BONGO and OUATTARA and also had an audience with the forum and with the young African Internet users.

Far from being an ideological debate and rearguard battles, the English and French languages were used indifferently the exchanges covered the current and the future of the African continent and not on the past, too often much dwelt upon, always polemical and rarely constructive.

As a model of an efficient and flexible organization, these three days of rich and varied debates conducted like a beating drum, highlighted the major gap between the declarations and realizations, and reinforced the writer’s belief that Africa, notwithstanding that the phrase has a meaning geographic, is at a crossroads. One is at the point where ones shares between a movement towards irreversible development with autonomous prosperity, and, on the other hand, a potential awaiting to be exploited. At the half waypoint, on the one hand, with declarations of intention intending to motivate a dynamic action and reassure a benevolent international community; and on the other hand, the effective implementation of their programmes, full of promises but which remain far from being achieved, which results in investors having doubts in terms of the risks and obstacles seemingly looming large

However, overcoming the second part of the challenge will not be taken up alone, certainly not on the basis of good words and intentions. Wishful thinking is certainly not the way, and the prophecies of self-realisation rarely produce their desired fruits. No value will result in the automatic elimination of debts, which any way only serve to contract new debts, international assistance; uncontrolled donations nor non-serious relations without creating wealth through real economy which requires being updated and working hard. This achievement which the author calls his wishes, requires the decision makers; the public administration to set up the favourable conditions for the private sector: sole creator of wealth, but also that the mentalities; collective and individual, change in a positive manner in entrepreneurship. However, there is still a long way to go.

Let’s get back to this idea of sharing, where the movement in this direction is oftens lowed down, if not blocked, by those strong cross-currents and whirlwinds, before addressing anon-compliant but optimistic appeal that, in the long run, will draw the reader’s attention about the crucial importance of getting the right information.

Africa on the move, the acquisition of awareness and declarations of intent

During the New York Africa Forum which hosted numerous privileged African officials with brilliant careers, mostly achieved outside of the continent, it is amazing to discover such a collective awareness and the effective human and economic potential that embodiesAfrica on the whole, for which the population will double by the end the century and will reach two billionhuman being. “Please do not do business in Africa without the Africans” claimed strongly the audience.

The forum established its final manifesto on the positive and affirmative evaluation on six key areas and engines, considered as "the 6I agenda" for the continent: Independence, Investment, Incubation, Innovation, Infrastructure, and Inspiration. In the same spirit, identify using every letter of the alphabet, the keywords of what seems to us to be the African reality, with its challenges and issues, to help provide food for thought, to guide decision-making and encourage action.


A- Africa - To be defined in terms of a Pan-Africanism;which is back in many debates, and is the common denominator of a "balkanized" continent.Autonomy - to be developed in all areas.Agriculture - essential to the development and social peace ("a hungry man is an angry man") to be valued throughout its entire production line without sacrificing it to industry and services, whether individual, or agro-industrial complexes.

B- Business - knowledge and skills to acquire and develop an entrepreneurial mindset to adopt, with (good) practices and performance requirements, of performance culture. The vector for development and independence,with an inverted tendency of human, economic and financial flows, between the mainland and the rest of the world. Just as Europe, post-war, where everything had to be rebuilt, the African market will soon become one of export, rather than import.

C- Consciousness - collective and community gradually disseminated and shared by modern means of communication has to be developedat the individual citizen and the consumer level: with a rule of law, everyone has their own freedom but also their responsibility and finally that deserves it. Connectivity - thriving on the continent. Much is said about the performance of contents, less about the quality of the content. Compliance - international norms and standards in the global economy, to which the continent must submit, and for which it will share the benefits and the risks. The African continent is no longer an island.

D- Development - when the promises are fulfilled and growth results in an equitable distribution of wealth. There will be emergence when private investors have replaced the international donors. Off-off (Decollage) if the force is maintained without stalling and the flight parameters are controlled, with determination and without abrupt change of course. Diversification - Necessary to generate cash, not being reliant on oil, mining and agriculture revenues. Demographics–The need to control birth rates and the population to feed, because large open spaces are neither fertile nor useful. Diaspora - a movement of coming home is underway and will help accelerate the development, but being African is not a question of skin colour, and quickly gets out of one’s depth when far away.

E- Education and Training - best long-term investment, raises awareness, reasoning and making more rational discourse, promotes communication and peace, prepares for productive trades necessary to control and appropriate the technology now inevitable, will need to be more and more on the continent. Enterprise (Business) - creative economic unit of wealth, to be encouraged and supported, where we learn to produce at least as much value as we consume, to make obsoletes and non-productive any temptation communal, whether ethnic or political, one of best crucibles for national cohesion and reconciliation is around an activity and joint projects. State (Etat) - must not forget that it is supposed to protect and serve the people and not vice versa, creating a favourable environment for the production sector. Energy–This is essential for development, while actually the whole continent currently only produces the equivalent of the Spanish production (sic). Environment - one of the biggest challenges facing the continent and key issues of education. For if this is not addressed, there will only be the elephantsin Stadium and lions in zoos.

F- Women (Femmes)–
The future of Africa, deemed to be more reliable and productive than men, one of the best investments in education. Finance–Encouraging personal banking must continue to grow, microfinance is suitable for small projects, and the banks must finance the other.

G- Governance - now essential, the key to development, this must not remain just as words but translated into action at all levels of society. Not enough is highlighted about the value of example, positive or disastrous, depending on the case. The question of ethics must be included, which must not remain in a state charter to sign and then immediately to be sat upon, while the nominees and shell companies are used to divert public money and to capture improperly tenders. The people are not stupid and foreign observers are not all blind and complacent.

H- Hope (Espoir) - hope for a better future is a mobilizing factor, we talk a lot, but people will not just accept promises and preparing for the future "for future generations," a slogan widely used and consensual, does not relieve us of having to deal with the short term.

I- Innovation - a key feature of African societies, so able to adapt and to appropriate any form of technological and behavioural innovation. Technological breakthroughs, generational gaps and qualitative jumps are already in evidence. Now, innovative companies that do not work and do not produce enough value which are questioning themselves cannot survive; dixit Europe today, so far from the creative and productive serendipity of the Renaissance.

J- Job (Emploi)–The instrument of dignity, independence and personal development, far from any idea of a pension, a job is not a given right. It follows an active and personal approach made with specific preparation, merit, motivation, involvement and personal commitment.

K- Key (Clef) - not one key, but several keys to a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the realities, needs, issues and challenges facing the continent.

L- Leadership - the objective competition between African countries, sometimes old and based on personal rivalries, should not prevent a natural and positive emulation. Regional integration is not an option, it is a necessity for many African countries do not have the size and critical mass sufficient (geographic, economic, human) to “go it alone”.

M- Implementation (Mise en Œuvre) - all the mechanisms exist, and most are in place, it remains to implement and monitor the effects, evaluate the results and if necessary punish violations and abuses. It requires courage, both political and physical.

N- Network - African cultures are naturally compatible with the operation of networks in a globalized world, one of their strengths. In network there is work, which needs to work and talk to be useful. Beyond appearances, the important thing is the use made of it and the fruit that is drawn from it.

O- Opportunities - numerous on the continent, those that have been seized and those that are created. Do not expect everything from the state or from others.

P- Partnership - buzzword to repeat as often as is needed but which must be win-win, which implies a symmetrical relationship of the same type and same level on an equal footing. Based on trust, which is not required but is inspired, and the reliability that is so often lacking, say what you do and do what they say in cultures where the unsaid creates misunderstanding and prevents the solvingof problems, all of a programme when a word or a promise are only commits those of who receive. It requires an impartial justice, reasonably fast and efficient. Poverty - the application of the above should help reduce the need to ensure and be sufficient, to define. Practices– those that encourage by example, those to be condemned, for example. When will there be a behavioural ISO? Politics - it is urgent to get out of behaviours that invoke unconditional or blind attachment to personalities and political clans, which inevitably bring up community and personal considerations.

Q- Quality - Human, the continent does not lack any, but it is insufficiently emphasized. It remains to be imposed and required, in deeds and in results.

R- Responsibility–This poses the question of choice and freedom. To take into account all circumstances, that leads to realize the consequences of his acts and his misconduct; that the citizen and the consumer should always be able to get naturally, to demand if necessary. Return to the previous points.

S- Security (Safety) - Not an end in itself but a condition, not only physical but includes food, legal, transactional, part of the social contract between the people and the state. If defined negatively, and brings back the notion of risk inherent in all forms of life, which one can reduce the occurrence and severity without fatality, manage perception and assess the true exposure. From the vulnerability to risk, through to the threat. Security, or rather the lack of too much insecurity, promotes the stability necessary for development

T- Transformation - set of mutations, silent and gradual or sudden and visible. Paradigm shifts taking place in the continent, fuelled by the turmoil of a Western world crisis under the accelerator and amplifier effectof technology. Do not be afraid of not being able to control, but control the direction and evolution. This is the condition for the emergence of the New African to come.

U- Union - often proclaimed but rarely practiced, as if it was afraid because it makes the strength of others. Not self-evident and not just the result of endless palaver, but acts and shared experiences. The question is whether we can do without.

V- Vision - one, possible in Africa, of a new world where humanity can reinvent themselves in all areas without copying foreign models that have reached their limits, breathless as unproductive. What a programme for an African Union that celebrates its fiftieth birthday.

W- Wisdom - popular and ancestral African wisdom is full of common sense so lacking in the so-called developed world, which would do well to be guided to find the sense of reality. Africa has at least as much to say to the world as in the reverse.

X- Xtractives– amongst the natural resources underutilized and poorly redistributed. The ambitious call by President Bongo rings loudly, from 2020, no natural resources leave the continent without being processed. Duly noted.

Y- Youth - a central concern, the future of the continent. A youth who is thirsty for concrete achievements, meeting immediate needs and future prospects, taking into account their aspirations in societies where the worship of the Old is required and where the pace of renewal of leaders longer follows the societal changes taking place deep, at the risk of dropping out of local realities. "The Spring of Africa" has only just begun. Whilst waiting for nature does its work of forced renewal, it would be suicidal for planners not to listen to the legitimate aspirations of their young people.

Z - there are so many other aspects to consider, everyone will register with one which is close to his heart, in accordance with its commitments, the iterative movement between an action inspired by the thinking and reflection included in the action, which gives meaning and value. "Act like a man of thought and think like a man of action", a universal idea of a Western philosopher’s “A programme for a lifetime”.

Thus, the statement of the areas that make the news in an African environment still largely virgin, is staggering and has an enormous potential. If with a historical perspective, one can argue that the world is still in a transition phase,it nevertheless appears that at the time of the Jubilee celebrations of Independence, African countries are now at a point where they can move forwards to a future they build in practice. Stationary equilibrium does not exist, and time flows inexorably, imposing a movement that we submit to,and we and print.

Jean-Michel LAVOIZARD

General Manager
ARIS-Advanced Research & Intelligence Services

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