By Maina wa Njuguna
Is it time to start deconstructing the Scramble for Africa legacy that was designed to plunder resources, abuse human capital and the destruction of the African cultures for the sole benefits of the colonial imperialists?
The partitioning of the continent was haphazard and unbridled. Africa’s development has definitely been hampered by the formulation of many entities, a good number of which are likely economically unviable.
The European Union, the United States of America are examples of huge economic markets where the most important resource – people can move within in the conduct of business without hindrances and unnecessary costs. The movement of goods and services flawlessly is at the heart of any successful markets.
Why is the unity of the African continent critical not only to its survival but posterity of all Africans?
To conduct business regionally in Africa is an absolute nightmare and an expensive proposition. Hard borders, passports, inspections, service fees, different currencies, language barriers, undeveloped or poor infrastructure are some of the very basic aspects that impede or strangulate economic development.
Of the 27 poorest countries in the world, 23 are in Africa.
CHALLENGES OF GOVERNING TINY/ STRIPS OF COUNTRIES
Burundi 🇧🇮 is the poorest country in the world. Some reasons why include -a small landlocked country, resource-poor, an underdeveloped manufacturing sector, natural threats that include floods, droughts, landslides and the legacy of the 1993 – 2005 civil war. The GDP is about 3.10 USD Billion.
It is also considered overpopulated; 58 percent of the population is chronically malnourished, with only 28 percent considered food secure.
“The weak economic growth in relation to the population growth is leading to a continuous rise in the poverty rate, which is expected to reach 87.1% in 2021 (measured at the threshold of US$1.90 per day).” Source: The World Bank.The World Bank
Like many other African countries, Burundians cannot move in and out of the country with ease and thus stuck and subject to unfavorable economic conditions not withstanding poor governance.
The Gambia 🇬🇲 is the smallest African country, (a strip of land) on the proper continent (non island). It is located inside Senegal or surrounded for that matter.
The strip of land ranges from 15 to 30 miles (25 to 50 km) wide on either side of the Gambia River and extends almost 300 miles (480 km) into the interior; except for a short coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.
The peculiar shape and size of the country is a legacy of Great Britain and France tussle and territorial accommodations made during the 19th century in which Great Britain controlled the lower Gambia River, and France, which ruled the neighbouring colony of Senegal.
The Gambia’s GDP is about 2.00 USD Billion. It’s densely populated. 50% of the population lives in poverty. In rural areas, which is most of the country, poverty is even more widespread, at almost 70%.
Senegambia was a loose, short lived confederacy of Senegal and The Gambia between 1982 to 1989. Keep in mind that these are the same people, but because of hard borders imposed on them, they cannot seem to overcome for the sake of unity.
The colonial legacies such as administrative differences including adopted or ‘imposed’ language barriers – Senegal with French and The Gambia, English were instrumental in dissolution of the union.
EXCERPT – The Gambia and Senegal was ‘one people’ separated through the instrument of the 1889 Anglo-French convention which partitioned the people between Britain and France. In spite of the colonial dichotomy which portrayed the blood neighbours as different people….. states at Independence still see themselves as one…. relate beyond the legacies of the colonial expedition. Although efforts to foster cooperation and continual friendly relations in terms of political union were threatened and eventually aborted by the colonial legacies because they could not fit into each other politically, partly due to different colonial administrative experience, and this has strained relations between them….”.
In order to govern a country, a nation needs to establish a government and constitution, defense and security, establish institutions such as judiciary to uphold laws, establish a financial system with the appropriate currency, a tax system to fund entities to provide basic services etc.
Africa has 54 countries and the more there are, the higher the cost for redundant, unnecessary institutions and a waste of badly needed, limited resources.
NB: Infrastructure – current and planned seems extractive and not for trade within the continent.
The continent as a whole conservatively has over $2.6 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a surging population of 1.3 billion people living in 54 countries.
Much of the resources and the invaluable human capital goes untapped, under utilized and some, misappropriated.
A United States of Africa would be by no stretch of the imagination be the largest economy in the world – significantly if re-imagined and re-organized.
The United States of America 🇺🇸 GDP is $ 22.675 trillion, China 🇨🇳 GDP is $14.87 trillion, Japan 🇯🇵 GDP is $5.39 trillion, Germany 🇩🇪 GDP is $4.318 trillion, United Kingdom 🇬🇧 $3.12 trillion, France 🇫🇷 GDP is $2.6 trillion.
Some of Africa’s top economies per GDP in billions of dollars are –
A good economic argument for a United States of Africa would start with bilateral trade agreements with the other major world economies.
When Uganda 🇺🇬 for example negotiates a trade agreement with China 🇨🇳, this is not a meeting of equals.
Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is about $42 billion a year compared to that of China at about $15 trillion per year.
It would take about 360 Ugandan countries to make one China. That’s how much the power differential is between these two countries when engaged in a so called ‘bilateral‘ trade negotiations.
Gross domestic product per capita is the total GDP of a country divided by total population of that particular country. It indicates country’s economic output that accounts for its number of people or the value of production.
Therefore, building on our Uganda and China example; Uganda’s population is 47,759,586. $42,000,000,000 ÷ 47,759,586 = $879.404607904
Therefore Uganda’s production output as a country using gdp per capita model is $879 per year. That means that each Ugandan average output per month is $73.28.
China’s population is 1,447,130,096. It is the most populous country in the world. $15,000,000,000,000 ÷ 1,447,130,096 = $10,365.343130836
Therefore China’s production output as a country using gdp per capita model is $10,365 per year. That means that each Chinese average output per month is $863.78.
African countries with the largest Chinese debt include: Angloa 🇦🇴 ($25bn), Ethiopia 🇪🇹 ($13.5bn), Zambia 🇿🇲 ($7.4bn), the Democratic Republic of Congo 🇨🇩 ($7.3bn), and Sudan 🇸🇩 (6.4bn).
Debt is not bad and at times necessary. What becomes an issue is the debt to income ratio, debt utilization and cost of debt (interest rates).
United States of Africa is the only way that the continent would be taken seriously by other major economies; not as a place to come and exploit, but a continent to deal with on an even toe.
Does this sound like just imaginative or wishful thinking 🤔, yes of course. Everything starts with a thought, what we do beyond that is up to us.
The price of doing nothing or simply maintain the status quo is much, much higher than that of making much needed change. It does not have to be like this.
No one, but Africans will solve African’s challenges. The good news is that the potential is immense and a remnant of the populous will not settle; for brighter days await the richest continent – potentially on earth.