African economies are on a relatively strong rebound following the crisis. The trouble, however, is that economic growth rates — in the midst of severe hardship — in Africa are too low and applying the various recommendations that many economists have made will only get Africa to where it was before the first economic crisis hit Africa in 2007. In addition, there are grounds to believe that a global economic crisis will happen again — nothing major has been done to avert the recession in future.
The fundamental question that Africa and Africans, as well as those who care about the human condition broadly, should be addressing is: whether the socio-economic system adapted from others is the ideal one for the challenges confronting Africa presently or in the recent past.
I have argued for the reconfiguration of socio-economic processes and interactions away from the mainstream capitalist mode. But it remains unclear as to how would the reconfigured socio-economic processes and interactions practically occur. One thing for sure though is that the current dominant paradigm is no longer advancing the human condition.
If the idea of an alternative socio-economic model for Africa is to be crafted, then perhaps the advice given by former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, in his inaugural 2010 Africa Day Lecture should be the starting point.
That for Africa to claim the 21st century there is “the need to recapture the intellectual space to define [Africa’s] future, and therefore the imperative to develop its intellectual capital”. He went on to argue that “one of the urgent contemporary tasks that confront African producers of knowledge is to understand the meaning of the global economic crisis to the African continent”.
At a practical level, there is diversification now and no longer a need to rely exclusively on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Those institutions now have competition from China, India and others. The three African ministers are not alone in expressing the need for African nations to boost trade with each other.
One major barrier to intracontinental trade is the lack of a transportation network capable of moving large-scale shipments from one country to another, reliably and quickly. African leaders agree that an improved, integrated infrastructure would help their region become even more resilient to costly fluctuations by the global economy.
In the last post I mainly presented the data and provided some interpretation of the state of Africa following the recent global economic crisis. As to what the global economic crisis means for the African continent, let’s continue engaging.