Unprecedented growth is a key issue in the future of humanity.
From 1990 to 2015. China’s population increased by almost half a billion people. In that same time, the population of Africa increased by about the same amount. Under these circumstances, many of the poorest countries in the world are seeing themselves subject to more diseases, more disasters, and less outside interest. Something needs to change, and Africa is the place which needs the most help.
This touches on a key issue of development in Africa: quality of life improvements vs local economic/environmental improvements vs international economic and environmental exploitation.
The issue, is that in order for Africa to be of any interest to some of the world’s largest corporations and governments, it needs to have something to exploit: resources or land. What needs to happen is for there to be major support for governments and charitable organisations to actively engage in increasing the productivity and education of a huge portion of Africa’s population.
The issue begins with education. Whilst there have been improvements over the last 25 years in the number of people in school, it has still left many people out of education or struggling to get out of a rut of poor teaching, and little progress
. Overcoming this barrier is one of the first parallel steps to improving life there. The development of a country or city is dependent on people having the skills to take over from those who precede them, and society is dependent on continuous, uninterrupted progress if it is to thrive.
Secondly is the issue of environmental conscientiousness. Whilst countries like the United States failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol
, and China and India continue to be the largest polluters in the world
. These countries are also suffering from the issue of providing a immense number of people with an almost uninterrupted supply of power. Their benefit, however, is that they do not need a huge amount of intervention to improve how they produce this energy. In fact, China is currently aiming to increase its renewable dependence
to 30% by 2030.
Surprisingly, however, there are in fact plans in Morocco to construct a huge solar power plant
which will produce around 50% of its power by 2020. The investment for this project came from primarily international sources, a deal which helps keep the price of production away from the consumer. This is an important initiative, as many many people in Africa live in rural areas, totally disconnected from the power grid. If there were more international efforts to unite these rural communities, and to produce more renewable energy locally, then Africa may be able to place itself ahead of the game and became a major component of worldwide energy production. In the UK we have wind, in the US there is Big Solar
and Africa also has a huge amount of this potential from its varied geography.
If outside sources can be convinced that Africa has obtainable energy, companies and governments might just flock to help. Charity is still an option, do not be swayed from that, however there is only so much that improvements to quality of life can achieve for the long term success of a community. This is why I urge people to get out, be vocal, and try to actually engage with poorer African communities, instead of just assuming they need to be catered to there and then and never again
. There is also the highly complex issue of how charitable donations are distributed, but that’s for another time.
If we can combine these two major platforms for development, we can see the beginnings of what could be spectacular. Just as cooperatives work in this country to boost the control of workers, and Fairtrade
acts to add, well, fairness to the use of other countries’ land for production, we may see the sporadic and deprived rural worlds of Africa come together to develop and produce on their own, and potentially draw in people from the urban slums. Initiatives to build up small communities into larger ones could also be beneficial even in the geopolitical west. Many parts of even the US are afflicted by isolation from cities with ever growing and increasing housing costs (the cost of an apartment in San Francisco’s Bay area is around $2.5k
), with jobs rushing into more central locations.
Of course, there are many other problems which need tackling in the meantime: HIV
and malaria are still killing off swathes of the population (about 55%
of the new HIV cases are in Africa, and 88% of new malaria cases
), big businesses continue to leech from the urban environments. Overall, though, something amazing can be done to a continent of immense beauty and stunning potential. All it takes is a push inwards to get these people to push back at us, and expand outwards.