ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA DEVELOPMENT – PART 1
What does long term development means today in Central Africa (Chad, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic) ?
From economic growth to sustainability, the stakes are multiple and several challenges await these countries in their journey toward what many have called emergence. Nations like Cameroon have launched ambitious prosperity plans to tackle poverty and even if those strategies are based on exploitation of natural resources (oil, metals, precious stones...etc), these countries still perform lower than other regions in Africa:
source: African Economic Outlook
From an economic point of view, numerous factors could explain the current situation. However, we believe development schemes have to be rethought and also that human resources accounts for a bigger part of the "wealth of nations".
By empowering citizens of these nations, we give them freedom that leads to generation of innovation ideas and create the adequate environment for sustainable businesses. These businesses, in return, will contribute to local or regional economies growth. From that perspective, quality of life (access to Education, Healthcare and Employment) becomes a critical factor when it comes to trigger economic development, since human factors impact economic growth and are the pillar of economic development.
Todaro, M (2011) defines Economic Development as an improvement in living standards and self-esteem needs as well as freedom from oppression and greater choice. A study on Silicon Valley published in A Portrait of California (2009) leads to the conclusion that individuals accessing to well-being are more creative. On the Human Development Index, Silicon Valley scores 9.35 over 10, one of the highest levels in America. Lets recall that the region remains home to many of the world's largest technology corporations and an important vector for development.
By providing access to knowledge, longer life expectancy and better standards of living (measured by wages), Central African countries can create regional clusters operating as innovation centres with the only intent to build sustainable technologies (which could pave the way to more innovations). The intent here is not to mimic Silicon Valley but rather create the conditions enabling technological and social innovations in rural or urban areas.
Image credits: Institute for the Future
Why building technologies if we can acquire them ?
Well the answer relies into a single fact; technologies accounts for a big share of the imports in Africa. Which means parts of our natural resources are exchanged against access to electronic goods, multimedia and telecommunications technologies. Building technologies that fulfill local needs is critical to the emergence of strong economies in Central Africa and this will also ensure that our natural resources are exploited in a sustainable way.