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Time is now ripe to make Africa a global powerhouse

Saturday February 26 2022
Powe house opinion
By NATION AFRICA

February is always known as 'Black History Month,' observed annually since in 1926 in remembrance of the black population and their role in US history. It is worth noting that this event, the brainchild of the historian Carter Godwin Woodson, has shaped the history of the  African diaspora.

Even though we are separated geographically, we often struggle with the same plight. History has documented the post-colonial struggles and triumphs managed by the peoples of Africa. This sort of history is vital to developing a prosperous future because it reminds us of our legacy and what should be done.

The civil rights activist Philip Randolph once said, "Freedom is never given; it is won." But, unfortunately for black people, the concept of freedom has never been realized in the African continent and the diaspora. And the successes in civil right and independence in the continent have also not been translated into sustainable economic freedom. 

Previous generations throughout the diaspora — from Australia to the Americas and the mother continent — have also fought for political and social rights while assuming that economic rights would follow. But lack of financial freedom haunts both the continent and the diaspora.

W. E. B. Du Bois illustrated Woodson's grand vision of uniting African people for a common purpose in his scholarly works. The founding fathers of newly independent African states also noted that unity was at the core of emancipating the African people and their descendants. We all agree that blacks' social and economic problems the world over are the same, ranging from discrimination to economic disenfranchisement.

But Africa, the mother continent of all black people, is in a position to exercise significant global influence that could potentially have a far-reaching, social, and economic impact. 

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For example, African states must speak in one voice in their protests against the deaths of Moise Mugenyi Kabagambe, a Congolese immigrant in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and that of 22-year-old Amir Locke in Minneapolis in the strongest terms possible. As Martin Luther King Jnr cautioned, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

Only when those in the continent identify with the troubles of their people in the diaspora that a strong bond will develop. That will lead to a unification of the Pan-African movement. The unity will be essential to fighting neo-colonialism at home and abroad. To win genuine freedom and independence, Africans should always fight in ways that bring together their people across the globe.

Africa can have the power and influence to mobilise resources to build much-needed infrastructure and harness our abundant natural resources for economic prosperity.  The African Continental Free Trade Area needs fast-tracking to open gateways to land-locked African countries and contribute to the reduction of economic inequalities. 

Only then will AFCTA have meaning to every state to build a stronger Africa that can protect its people internally and in the diaspora. The continent's youthful demography can also become a massive dividend with the necessary training. There should be collaboration with the diaspora to train thousands of young people in the emerging fields of data analytics and artificial intelligence.

These two areas have become fertile grounds for the new and disruptive solutions the world needs today. Creativity and innovation are key to creating wealth anywhere. With the unification of Africa as a single market, nothing can hold the continent back from becoming the fastest growing economic region of the world.  Africa will become a powerful global player with a population of 1.3 billion and purchasing power of over $1.5 trillion.