Leaders don’t drop from the sky, if the people of a country are uninformed, ignorant, uneducated, greedy, then their leaders will also be, as leaders come from those very same people. So if one wants to gain a measurement of how informed/advanced a country is, look at its leaders, they are a mirror image of the mindset of the people.
Culture is an industry that leads to economic development. Its high time we invested in equipping libraries with up to date books and IT systems, invested in the Arts, leisure, entertainment, and culture and so on. For example, TV radio, talks, documentaries, educational programmes, seminars, conferences, museums, as it is here that creative ideas bubble up and take root. Culture can play a tremendous part in the development of a region. These inform and develop the mind, of both young and old alike.
Exchanging ideas, and meeting people in non threatening environments, helps foster progress. If African people want an enabling environment for their children and themselves to thrive in, they will get it, as countries thrive on where the demand lies. As ideas travel and people share knowledge, people also add value to their home countries economies as they are kept abreast with intellectual endeavours the world over.
This increases a country’s human capital, as each individual adds their own experiences, ideas, creativity and spin on things. True education does not end when one finishes university or college, but is a life- long process of continuous improvement, growth and achievement.
Putting African languages back into the curriculum, not only western forms of our written languages, but also traditional ancient written versions, is a place to start, and should be taught and readily used and updated. Written language cements and creates understanding, it forms a storage, record and retrieval system, it creates identity, self esteem, confidence, national pride, and so on, it cannot be ignored. If we want to progress there is a lot of work to be done.
In the olden days we had town meetings, festivals, initiations and so on which served to inform, educate and entertain people. That space has closed, but we have to adapt modern ways of living to our own modern Vs traditional environments, so that young and old alike, poor and rich can benefit, as all advanced and emerging countries are doing.
Similarly we must seize to rely on income from primary resources if we are to avoid becoming see saw economies, whatever happens in the global economy affecting us at the slightest buff or global hiccup. The cry to diversify away from sole dependence on primary products, cannot be stressed enough. Financial services, agriculture, technology, industry, made in Africa products, inter regional commerce and trade, and so on, has to be incrementally undertaken.
Australia was the only country in the major industrial economies not to suffer from the global recession, how did it do this? India which is a country that has close to a billion people and almost 1000 ethnic groups continues to grow, and to develop staving off or containing ethnic tensions and rivalries how? Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam and most of Asia continue to grow and modernize, how have they achieved this? What lessons can we learn?
Import substitution was one method used by some of these economies, where home grown locally sourced products were used to develop home- made local industries. Policies were introduced to protect their infant industries from unfair competition, internationally and locally, such as in the garment and shoe industries in these countries. Gradual modernization/liberalization, not all at once will help us reach our potential.
How has a resource poor country like Switzerland been able to not only survive, but thrive?
“To lead, one must be willing to follow”. Get rich quick schemes will only serve to hurt us all in the long term.