In many ways, Africa is still the same, a huge continent size-wise, a growing population and a demonstrated need in many aspects of its economy, food security, infrastructure, healthcare and social services.
However slowly, the dominant headlines, war, armed conflict, disease are fading. Even by the echo standard of a failed state, the military coup, Africa has been doing better. Just four coups in about the same period, Chad, Niger, Mali and this month Guinea. Needless to add these are all in Central and West Africa.
The bigger conflicts have formented. Boko Haram’s networks seem to have been finally demobilized by attacking financing circles inside and outside Nigeria through active prosecutions in the United Arab Emirates.
Nigeria is still reluctant to accept US help to investigate further the financial web that kept Boko Haram grow from a menace to a real security threat guarding its sovereignty but also likely “regime secrets”.
Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan remain areas of varying concern, the Tigrayans have not taken well the lack of warning of fall from power after the unexpected death of Meles Zenawi.
Some more big news, the DRC long the hotbed of internal conflict seems to be settling down although decades of misrule have grown alternative power systems on its eastern borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The DRC under new leadership continues to pursue reparations at the International Court of Justice against Uganda but maintains cordial ties with her neighbor and its application to join the East African community is pending.
In assessing this positive news, key ingredients have been the internet democratizing access to information. The information age proved too much for Zambian former president Misheck Lungu as he rode to defeat in the recent general elections.
The second ingredient is a relatively younger population. This advantage as China now realizes only lasts one or two generations. African leaders must plug social security, a safety net and attack unemployment through freer trade and open borders.
Africa may yet catch some breathing space as the west shifts attention from the civil-military complex that run things for decades to internal social reforms to address wide economic disparities at home.
Of course republicanism is marked by the excess of elected officials but at the same time, solving political problems through endless military coup d’états and protracted armed conflict did little but impoverish Africa in the first 40 years after independence.
At its head are three big economies; Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. Nigeria anchors ECOWAS, South Africa anchors SADCC and Egypt is the lynchpin of the Niger delta. The DRC is still light years away but settling down will create a huge economic conurbation with a reach three times the size of Western Europe.
Then tier (2) countries complete the middle in their respective sub-regions and this is where most of the opportunities lie, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ghana countries with positive numbers but still finding their feet. Many of these have touched middle income status don’t have a militarized history and domestic institutions each have a number of achievements under their belt.
Presidential transitions, elections, presidential election petitions and sometimes groundbreaking jurisprudence appear here. In tier 3, some of these facts do exist, Malawi cancelled the 2019 presidential election where judges arrived by military chopper to read their single judgment.
Lastly, Covid is likely to calm momentarily net resource outflows as a result of populations staying at home to maximize benefits from their resources. If Africa sustains energy for the next 25 years, the “dark” continent will look very different, full of light, energy and innovation.
Even the stories we have here of foreign companies folding up, as simply stories of foreign companies returning home to pick up opportunities they missed in the past.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. [email protected]