Africa, the positive narrative
Enabling Sub-Saharan Africa to create decent jobs for its millions of unemployed digitally skilled young people
“Jobs & Modernity”, that is what Africa is concerned about
Africa’s modern agricultural, food and manufacturing industrialisation and associated services creates 12 million quality jobs every year, mitigates climate change, prevents forced migration and stimulates the revival of the post-Covid EU-economy
For a radical change in the dominant narrative about development cooperation:
- “Jobs”, that's what Africa is concerned about
- “Jobs”, thanks to the local transformation of African natural resources into competitive products and services;
- “Jobs”, thanks to massive “for profit” investments in “climate-friendly” agricultural, food and manufacturing industries.
- The whole of Europe is introduced to the “bright side” of Africa and frees itself from deep-rooted stereotypes about Africa (Africa’s need for “aid” and “SDG advice”);
- African industrial SMEs are massively seeking “win-win” partnerships with more advanced international peers;
- Africa is mature enough to make social corrections itself.
A mandatory EU system of due diligence for supply chains and a handful of media-genic “digital” success stories
- are just trees hiding the forest of immense African unemployment, and
- distracts policymakers and stakeholders from developing an agenda for structural change: “Industrial policy to increase private investment in labour-intensive manufacturing and services”.
- Carbon tax increases the competitiveness of Africa’s agricultural products in the short chain and makes market-disrupting policy to the detriment of Africa - eg EU and US agricultural subsidies - less relevant.
- In new times “with” climate change, pandemics and “China, factory of the world”, Europe needs Africa just as much as vice versa. The creation of a new growth market in neighbouring Africa - 25% of the active world population - is also revives Europe’s economy.
African families invest heavily in higher education for their most gifted young people (economics, ICT-telecom, engineering, agronomy, law ...) to realize five years after graduation that, in the absence of modern labour-intensive manufacturing industries, two thirds of them are still looking for decent jobs. A state of pre-radicalization.
Aid professionals promote “SDGs”, “Green”, “Gender”, now also about “D4D” (Digital for Development) and demand that the West invests 0.7% GDP for these noble goals. It should be noted that after sixty years of development aid and 4,000 billion euros (Develtere, KULeuven 2021), both authorities and civil society of 10-15 fairly stable Sub-Saharan countries believe that only the local transformation of Africa's natural resources is capable of to create more jobs per year than the demographic growth, to reduce poverty and to realize the SDGs.
Putting the “digital” cart before the horse
Africa requires the permanent transfer of advanced industrial processes and technologies. In return, Africa offers investors a new growth market with one quarter of the total active world population. Africa wants factories, investments in infrastructures and real independence: no “aid”, “SDG advice”, “financing crumbs” or “expert tourism”. The traditional manufacturing industrialization of Africa and the resulting purchasing power are driving the digitization of the continent, not the other way around.
Guided mentality change
A broad, controlled change of mentality among a critical mass of the broader society, including entrepreneurs, is urgently needed: in Europe about “The other Africa”, in Africa about “Entrepreneur, dare to enter into industrial partnerships with more advanced sector peers”. This results in the following positive effects:
- In Africa. The structural modernization of the agricultural, food and manufacturing industries and the creation of millions of jobs in the formal economy.
- In Europe. Neighbouring continent Africa, a new market with 25% of the world's population for upscale European products and services.
- Containment of climate problems, pandemics and conflicts.
NOT investing now in Africa labour-intensive agriculture, food and manufacturing industries leads to more poverty and conflicts, more migration, more climate problems and natural disasters, more pandemics and slows down the economic recovery of Europe.
- Turning challenges in to solutions. AU-EU industrial SME-value chain partnerships boost global climate neutrality and circular economy, bring AfCFTA to its full potential, and revive the EU economy.
- D4D Digital for Development.
- The Future of Work in Africa: The Role of Digital Technologies (Africa’s Pulse, April 2021, World Bank Group)
Preconceived opinions. In Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany I interviewed over 200 vested, solid industrial SMEs, their business federations and promoted the strength of Africa. Only a handful of them decided for a small investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nobody was able to cite two Sub-Saharan countries with well document fairly stable institutions and accessible industrial zones. A preconceived stigmatised opinion of an unstable Africa is deeply engrained their minds.
The art to seek and forge win-win partnerships with more advanced international industrial peers”. It would be a pleasure for me to exchange ideas how to assist Africa to train their industrial SMEs a new competence “The art to seek and forge win-win partnerships with more advanced international industrial peers” (Beyond the standard capacity building activities on ‘Business Administration’ already teached at hundreds of African colleges and university colleges).
15/5/2021 Karel.Uyttendaele @ pandora.be