BY OLUKAYODE OYELEYE
ENVISAGING AN AFRICA that is a force to reckon with and taken more seriously by advanced nations of the world goes beyond mere wishes. It should inform the intellect, engage the mind and spur into action. This is because Africa as a continent has what it takes to boost its relevance and exert definite influence in the global community. Many developed countries today were not among the leading world countries half a century ago. The talk of Asian Tigers some years ago did not arise out of the ordinary. The stories of modern Singapore, South Korea and United Arab Emirate began somewhere, sometimes very recently compared to those of many European countries, Australia, US and Canada that evolved for much longer period. As a continent of over 50 independent and sovereign states capable of telling fascinating stories of great exploits and progress made sometimes in the near future, Africa may benefit more by looking more into the future rather into the past for such stories. Reminiscences of wars, displacements, foreign donations and aids, exploitation of natural resources by foreign multinationals, famine, drought, poverty and underdevelopment have been too widely told without any appreciable positive impacts, change or a departure from the circumstances associated with these negative stories. Rather, they have demoralised, discouraged or dashed hope and faith in possibilities for better future.
We therefore need to turn around the narratives and begin to dream about a greater, better and more developed Africa of the future – the one we hope our children will grow into and live in. Such dreams need to be followed up with result-oriented activities involving critical stakeholders and partners. Accordingly, great possibilities achievable in another 11 years from now will be the subject here. By 2033, Africa could and should have really come of age, with unprecedented developments that would change the narratives of countries within the continent. With the possibilities of great achievements in mind, this piece is going futuristic without necessarily daydreaming, looking back in time from the future, and looking further forward into the far future from the present. It may succeed in driving home some forms of determination to turn the tide in favour of – rather than against – Africa as the continent wakes up from complacency and takes firm decisions to move its constituent countries forward. Thus, the various peculiarities that overwhelm many countries and prevent them from progressing will be jettisoned and new culture of progress and development adopted. Doomsday forecasters have once written off Africa as a continent with no hope. But Africans can prove such predictions wrong by exceeding the expectations of all observers in terms of progress made in all areas of life.
Welcome to the third decade in the twenty first century. A time of reckoning by various players in the global socio-political and economic space has come as the state and non-state actors are making frenzied efforts to present their scorecards and impacts on the world. This is a speech presumably read by African Union (AU) in February 2033 at an extraordinary meeting of the heads of government of African countries in preparation for the May 25, 2033 celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the AU established 25 May 1963. The Presiding AU Chair, His Excellency Martin Ilunga from the Democratic Republic of Congo is not only feeling accomplished for the progress Africa has made so far as a continent, he is also excited that his home country is now one of the leading economies in the world. His speech, which has re-echoed at the floor of the United Nations in New York, has become a beacon of hope for Africa and a point of reference for Europe, Asia, the Americas and Oceania as a development paradigm shift worthy of emulation. For once, Africa’s story has become a reference point for development thinkers, economists, policy makers, technocrats and diplomats all over the world. For its worth, the conventional media and social media have been falling over themselves, trying to outdo one another in publishing or broadcasting the speech. It has already been selected by the Secretary General, Mrs. Yashasvini Hardeep, as a speech to be repeated on the floor of the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly in September 2033. After observing all the necessary protocols, the AU Chair begins the speech thus:
Today, I am honoured to address this august occasion of the extraordinary meeting. I cannot hide my excitement as I am about to reel out the litany of achievements our dear continent of Africa has recorded in the past decade and a half. In particular, the great possibilities translated into realities by the power of faith and determination to turn the minus into a plus are visible as testimonies abound and evidences are found in various African countries. Africa has moved its obstacles, scaled its hurdles and has minimised many of its development challenges. It was crawling before; it tottered for a while, ran some distance. Now it is poised to fly. Africa is blessed with tremendous natural and human resources. With a population of 1.8 billion people, of which around 40 per cent is aged 25 years and 10 years, plus additional 20 per cent of the population younger than 10 years, Africa is blessed with vibrant physical and intellectual human resources able to propel the continent further into becoming a leading continent on the globe in the future. The continent has benefitted enormously in the past decade from this youth bulge and will reap a lot more benefit if we remain on track in our development trajectory into 2050. Africa alone is growing in population while the population of many developed countries of the world is diminishing, with annual negative growth. Even China is now experiencing a decline in growth as the children born at the beginning of the one-child policy are nearing retirement age now and they generally preferred smaller families. This has led to a shrinking of the population of China to about 800 million amidst the aversion of many younger Chinese for child bearing on the excuse that it is expensive and capital intensive.
As a continent, Africa has moved so fast on its all-out ambitious programmes, has covered many milestones, with many achievements ahead of Agenda 2063 target date and has met most Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) before the end date of 2030. Our efforts on SDG in Africa have yielded enviable results. Ahead of the end date of three years ago – that is 2029 – Benin, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, DR Congo and Congo Brazzaville have been lifted out of poverty. The annual GDP growth rate of Botswana, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Tanzania and Togo has been between 7 and 10 per cent for the past six consecutive years, beginning from 2027. The continent is already warming up, not only to meet, but also to exceed the new Updated Sustainable Development Goals (USDG) in all its ramifications. A lot of credit goes to the African representatives – mostly retired now – that ensured that SDG 16 was not completed without their robust inputs on governance issues. Africa of today is no longer a continent of lopsided development but one of evenly spread development in which many countries have achieved meteoric rise from the ashes of poverty, hopelessness and backwardness to becoming the investment destination for many Foreign Direct Investments. In the last five years, African countries have attracted $490 billion last as at December 2032, compared to $97 billion a decade earlier. Africa learnt a great lesson on food security, self-reliance and patriotism 11 years ago when wheat price suddenly rose and supply became tight. Our visionary leaders weaned the continent of huge capital flights on wheat import as they found a good alternative in cassava flour that has proved effective at 60 per cent replacement for wheat. Our bakers across many countries now depend on local staple for products of bakeries, confectioneries and pasta. No less than $320 billion has been saved through import substitution of wheat with cassava flour since 2022 and now.
Africa is still developing and needs to beef up the security of its countries, particularly the more vulnerable ones. Recognising the social, political and economic impacts of insurgencies and terror attacks in various parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa since 2003, the AU has formed the African Security Network (AFSECUN), a continent-wide military sentinel made up of the army, navy and air force, working with national governments and reporting to the AU to repel the deadly terrorists, counter their attacks and end their operations in all African countries within a 10 year operational mandate by 2035. Altogether, the combined military strength of AFSECUN is over 8,000 soldiers and still growing. Formed in 2025 by unanimous votes from all African leaders, AFSECUN has drawn members and funding support from all countries, with minimal contributions from Europe, North America or Asia. In essence, Africa now stands without the crutches foreign governments or donors. I hereby report that, rather than continuing to depend on foreign troops that could withdraw at any time as done 11 years ago in 2022 when the French troops in Mali had to suddenly end their protective operation, Africa now has a standby military support that can be called upon during emergencies in any region of the continent. This is supported with sophisticated communication facilities, military hardware and ammunitions that can be deployed in a jiffy.
……to be continued