The Challenges Africa Faces Today

The African continent still faces significant challenges, but there is ample room for enthusiasm. In this week’s article, I review the challenges. In next week’s article, I’ll talk about the hopeful.

By Lotus Felix

Our Times Editor, Felix Lotus

Africa is popularly seen as a developing continent, impressively following the tracks of the West in technology and politics while still preserving its unique culture. While Africa’s economic expansion has been generally impressive, the continent still has its indigenous challenges with which it grapples. Upon attaining independence from colonial masters, the continent still struggles with some deep structural cracks that have clogged its pace of infrastructural growth. There are a few specific areas which deserve special concern:

1. Africa majorly suffers from poor leadership and corruption in high offices

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Leadership has been one of the major cruxes of Africa’s problems. Many nations are engulfed in political crises with little sustainability and peaceful continuity in government. While many African nations proclaim to embrace and follow democracy, such democracy still lags behind international standards with too many leaders implanting themselves in public offices, creating quasi-monarchies, like the case of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The two have manipulated constitutions to cater to their eternal thirst for power.

Corruption also often thrives heavily in general politics throughout Africa, with cases of money laundering and diversion of public funds to private interests being replete. According to reports from Transparency International, roughly 75 million people in Sub-Saharan African have admitted to paying bribes in 2014. Further revelations from the report put corruption index at 69% for Liberia, 43% for Nigeria, and 37% for Kenya.

2. Insurgency and Terrorism are also major concerns

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With inadequate political structures in place, large swathes of regions throughout Africa struggle with insurgency and terrorism. Most security apparatuses do not boast the sophistication required in a modern setting to combat crime. Fragility in government, as well as nationalist tendencies, also allow for militancy and violent tribal agitations.

International terror organizations are building vehement operational cells in Africa, particularly the Sahel region. Al-Qaeda, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen and ISIS are gaining a stronger foothold in Africa.

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Statistics from the IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre reveals that terror attacks by religious extremists have increased by roughly 200% from 2009 to 2015. Also, across this interval of time, cases of injuries and even mutilation have risen by another 750%.

3. Poverty and unemployment are big issues for Africa

Poverty has been a long-standing debacle in Africa. Inadequacy in technology means that subsistence agriculture is highly practiced instead of the commercial variant. Coupled with political instability and mass forced migrations, people struggle to have a sustainable means of survival. Malnourishment is not uncommon and in other cases, international food aids are unscrupulously diverted by corrupt political or military forces, as well as paramilitary forces.

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A report from the UN revealed that in 2014, over 230m people in Sub-Saharan Africa suffered from undernourishment and extensive hunger. In this region, one in four people were found undernourished although generally undernourishment had declined to around 23% from the 33.2% recorded back in 1990.

The standard of living in Africa is understandably poor also with reports from Sub-Saharan Africa showing that 3 in 5 youths are not gainfully employed.

Governments have strived to divert reliance on public sector jobs by creating and enabling an environment for the private sector and small businesses to spring up and thrive. The intended results are however yet to be attained. In 2012, over 500m people in Sub-Saharan Africa were found to live on less than $2 per day. All these attributes further the explosion of public hunger. Among this figure, is 72% of youths in the Sahel.

While these figures may instantaneously sound appalling, they do little to cloud the amazing strides Africa is making generally both on an economic and political level. The beacon of hope still shines radiantly over the continent with the assuredness of a brighter future. In next week’s article, I will outline a mere few of these positive areas.

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