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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How Will Africa Perform in 2008?

This was one of my post that was featured on Thursday 3 January 2008 - 16:27 in AfricaNews editor. It received 2693 messages

How will the African continent perform in 2008 in terms of economic growth, which countries and which sectors will have the best changes? AfricaNews asked several professionals to give their opinion. Today the vision of Kevin Jackson, principal at CSC Consulting, in St. Louis, USA.

I don't know if this question can be answered as a whole. However I can tell you that Africa would be one amazing continent, if it operated like the US. I have traveled extensively through Africa, as far south as Botswana, as far north as Tunisia, and literally from coast to coast, skipping the war zones of the time.

I am amazed at the cultural diversity, the natural resources that are uniquely Africa, and the scale of Africa. Unfortunately in Africa, crossing from Botswana to Zimbabwe or Zambia is not like going from Texas to Oklahoma. You must constantly be on guard, and you place yourself in peril at boarder crossings sometimes. And the world knows of the "hot spots", like the Congo, Rwanda, and Somalia, to name a few.

I am disheartened that the world mostly views Africans as somewhat backwards in comparison to the rest of the world. In fact, Africans are some of the smartest people in the world, speaking multiple languages, French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, English, Dutch, usually based on its past occupier, as well they speak multiple African dialects. When one travels to places like Lagos, Nigeria, you see Africa in all its splendor. Africans conducting business, just like in New York, London, Paris. I believe the world wouldn't recognize a picture of daily life in Nigeria's business district. Aside from the people mostly being dark skinned, it would look like life in any big city around the world, with a financial district, a fashion district, and so on. Nigeria boasts 120M people by itself, and is rich in bonny light crude oil. This country alone would be in the top 20 nations in the world, in GDP.

Further, there is little doubt to me that Africa would be the #1 tourist spot in the world, if it were run like the US. Victoria Falls, the Namibian and Sahara Deserts, the Nile river, the allure of Northern Africa and its Middle-Eastern influence, particularly Egypt and the pyramids, the western coastal countries of Ghana, again Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Senegal, to name a few, boast some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, though most remain mostly undeveloped. The game reserves in Africa exist no where else in the world, and include animals such as elephants, lions, cape buffalo, crocodiles, and a host of other indigenous creatures, again, most unique to Africa. And let's not forget the mountain gorilla!

Africa is likely the richest country in the world, with oil reserves that may be 2nd only to the Middle East. Africa has unparalleled wealth in discovered gold, platinum, diamonds, tanzanite, plutonium, rubber, and a host of other minerals and products.

So what does Africa need? Africa needs Democracy. The present system of military leaders overthrowing various African governments is not advancing the cause of Africa, and has locked it into a perpetual war zone. Imagine if every few years there was a coup in Texas or California.

Civilized countries are not going to deal with despots. Africa has tested feebly the idea of a single leader, i.e. president, who could unite the countries for a common, collective goal. However that met with mad resistance, since each countries' leader had much to lose. Until Africa understands the power to be gained from a united Africa, it will remain as backwards as the world perceives it to be.

Personally, I believe the world knows the magnitude of this power, and is hesitant to have Africa united for this reason. Better to exploit Africa, country by country, resource by resource, than to have to deal with a unified power, with a firm understanding of the public good. However, even knowing what I know can be of Africa, I don't expect much of her. There will be slight gains in the less tense regions, but more bloodshed in others. Sadly, such is Africa. But I do hope to live long enough to enjoy the vision I have of what is truly the greatest continent on earth.

Visit the profile of Kevin Jackson at LinkedIn