Natural resources, renewable energy, opportunities and vision will create the African Century

Pearls and Irritations

Peter Sainsbury

"The report rightly places emphasis on the murder, oppression and looting that has occurred during Africa’s colonial past and post-colonial present, and on the (neoliberal) structural adjustment policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund. It also recognises that climate change is now compounding the largely externally created problems and identifies three structural development challenges that are common across the African nations:

  • A lack of food sovereignty,
  • A lack of energy sovereignty, and
  • The low value-added content of exports relative to imports.

The way forward involves a ‘renaissance’ of African ideas and leadership based on African values and cultures. This will deliver people-centred, gender-equal, prosperous development and social justice and a more assertive international role that includes South-South collaboration and self-reliance. The foundation for this will be:

  • Access by every citizen to abundant, affordable, nutritious food produced by a shift away from export-oriented, cash-crop, industrial agriculture towards community-based agro-ecological systems;
  • A pan-African industrial policy that reduces extractive industries, assembly-line manufacturing and low value-added exports and expands internal markets and economies of scale to generate employment and benefits for Africans;
  • The development of an African-owned, modern, decentralised energy system that leapfrogs dirty fossil fuel technologies and takes advantage of Africa’s massive renewable energy potential to deliver affordable electricity to all Africans, especially the 600 million who currently lack access. This will advance Africa’s climate goals while avoiding ‘false solutions’ (carbon markets, carbon capture and storage, and geo-engineering).

This is a different fate for and image of Africa. One that tackles the intertwined climate (and broader ecological), energy and development crises. One where Africans determine their own destiny, shed the decades-long traps of dependency, indebtedness, failure to prosper and poor health, and adopt an optimistic collective vision of a prosperous, low-carbon future for all Africans."