Chapter 1.2

Africa has tremendous assets

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Africa is a rich continent. It has vast agricultural and land resources and thus the potential to feed all the people living on the continent. Poverty, hunger, malnutrition and want could be overcome in just a decade. An Africa without hunger is possible.

Moreover, Africa is home to 15 per cent of global oil reserves, 40 per cent of gold reserves, 80 per cent of platinum metal reserves and has the largest expanse of agricultural land in the world (AfDB, 2015). In the last few decades there have also been some positive developments: the gross domestic product has increased fivefold since 1990, child and maternal mortality has been reduced by half, and 80 per cent of all children today attend primary school. The people in Africa have taken on a great deal: almost one third of the world's refugees, i.e. 20 million people, have found shelter in Africa (UNHCR, 2015). Africa has tremendous assets. In addition to its richness in resources and young population, it boasts cultural diversity, entrepreneurial spirit, innovative power and great untapped potential in the areas of renewables and agriculture.

A recent McKinsey study makes concrete forecasts for 2025 (McKinsey Global Institute: Lions on the Move II, 2016): a doubling of manufacturing output, 2.1 trillion US dollars in household consumption and 3.5 billion dollars in business spending.

The continent’s cultural and religious diversity are also important resources. Churches and faith communities have always played a pivotal role in providing social services, especially in the areas of education and health. They reach people even in places where no public institutions or systems exist. In countries where the opposition or civil society are weak, religious representatives are often the only ones to raise their voice and expose corruption and social injustice. 

Many of these assets are still not being used. There are reasons for this, and we must address them openly. In many African countries, corrupt elites still have too much influence. Elites who prefer to channel their money abroad instead of investing it locally, who decide to sell their arable land and fisheries instead of using them to feed their own population, who let multinationals exploit the country's natural resources without creating domestic value chains.

Large sections of the African population are suffering from a political culture that does not define "government" as a duty to serve the common good but as the right to help yourself. This deprives the youth of Africa of their future. In addition, women and minorities are often excluded although the skills and abilities of all people are needed. No society can afford not to use the potential of half its population. The women of Africa hold the key to the continent's future in their hands. They must also be able to use that key.

But international corporations are also falling short in some areas, namely with regard to meeting local environmental and social standards and compliance regulations. This has resulted in Africa losing more than one trillion US dollars in the last 50 years that could have been used for sustainable development, with illicit financial flows currently amounting to 50 billion US dollars per year. 60 per cent of losses are due to aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations (Final Report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa of the AU/UN, 2015).

In addition, Europe's policy on Africa was for decades often guided by its own short-term economic and trade interests. There was no consistent, targeted or "joined-up" policy, and the required structure for implementation was not in place.

Africa is rich in resources:

Africa is rich in resources
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Africa is rich in resources

continue to Chapter 1.3

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