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The myth of Africa’s rise: Vince Musewe

By Vince Musewe

If Africa is on the rise, it is on the rise as a wealth generator for multinationals and not for Africans themselves.

Vince Musewe
Vince Musewe

I thoroughly get miffed when Western analysts continue to talk of Africa’s rise based on GDP projections and consumption power because these are mainly based on Africans consuming imported products.

In my view that does not help us at all. Africa’s rise must be based on the emergence of a new world view based on principle centered leadership, self-empowerment and responsibility.

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This means Africa must adapt new economic systems not based on the acquisition and concentration of wealth, but on creating social equity and lifting the majority out of the poverty cycle.

GDP does not measure that nor does the Western based economic model, whether it be aid or investment, address the fundamental social problems we face.

In my opinion, Africa will only rise when our consciousness as a people realizes that we have everything we need to educate our population, to make things, do our own research and create our own factories and consume our own manufactured products.

In order for that to happen the new narrative on Africa must be led by Africans themselves. This must be led by a new political leadership. It is clear therefore, that our current political leadership has contributed significantly towards the failure of Africa to rise.

A good example is the incessant focus on how Zimbabwe’s GDP is rising, but I do not see any change in our values as a society nor do I see an improvement in the general level of the quality of life for ordinary Zimbabweans.

In fact, Zimbabwe is hardly rising at all, but will do so once we have totally revamped our socio political values and we have a new political leadership that is not only legitimate but sensitive to the fact that Africa will not rise until its people are free.

Global income inequality is actually on the rise and Africans are getting poorer despite the projected increases in GDP and increase in mining activity on the continent. The consumption spend by Africans is also rising but there is no match in indigenous investment.

We remain locked in this consumption cycle which is actually spurred on by foreign direct investments.

In fact, I would even go far as to say that increases in FDI in Africa actually increase income inequalities and therefore create more poverty. This is simply because investors are there simply to extract as much value out of Africa without addressing its social problems.

An interesting read is Jason Hickel’s paper titled “The truth about extreme global poverty” that appeared in Al Jazeera. In it he states:

“During the colonial period, the gap between the richest countries and the poorest countries widened from 3:1 to 35:1, in part because European powers extracted so much wealth from the Global South in the form of resources and labour. Since then, that gap has grown to almost 80:1.”

The reason is simply that multinational companies, supported by policies of the IMF and The World Trade Organization, have had access to cheap labor and resources and have been able to extract more out of Africa at the expense of the poor.

Lately China has come to the fore and China’s priority is simply to develop and benefit the Chinese. The sad part of all this is Africans are actually getting excited about all this, especially our politicians who have failed to think beyond their colonial experiences.

Multinationals are the new imperialists who continue to invest heavily in Africa’s resources while exporting their consumption goods back to Africa. In all cases Africa loses.

If Africa is on the rise, it is on the rise as a wealth generator for multinationals and not for Africans themselves.

Vince Musewe is an economist based in Harare. You may contact him on [email protected]