Why Africa might not make much progress this century

When Chad's Prime Minister Albert Pahimi, Burkina Faso's President Christian Kabore, Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe, posed before the opening session at the Summit on the Financing of African Economies Tuesday, May 18, 2021, in Paris. [AP Photo]

Yes, current African regimes may be unaware of the law of causality; the relationship between cause and effect. That is to say, the qualitative consequences of any action will be harmonious with its nature.

In the political landscape of any State, only the policies pursued today will determine the outcome of tomorrow. It is this simple dictum that the current leadership in Africa seems to have omitted. Africa is 23 years into the "new" millennium that promised much hope.

There were many campaigns tied to the magic year 2000, the most famous of them being IT compliancy for citizens. But little seems to have been realised so far. A lot of good old Africa is still ours to behold. Elections are still violently contentious and in some cases rigged in favour of incumbency.

Octogenarians Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Cameroon's Paul Biya and Alpha Conde in Guinea still show us that it is still popular for rulers to (mis)use the extra-legal route and the advantage of incumbency to hold onto power.

Armed conflict is still resorted to. Many feel it is much easier to change a government by the gun, as it threatened to happen to the precarious government of DR Congo and South Sudan.

African states are increasingly becoming irrelevant as overseer and provider of the basic necessities of life -water, food, shelter and in some occurrences security; and armed gangs and militia in North Rift or Tigray conflict are good evidence. The overall meagre performances of the Millennium Development Goals, attest to that.

Africa heavily relies on the magnanimity of foreign aid from the international financial institutions and "developed" countries to balance and supplement budgets at very high costs to its finances and sovereignty.

Clearly, Africa has neither taken the issues of democracy seriously nor has it significantly benefited from it. Most of the efforts made like the increasing frequency of holding elections are preposterous and in some instances, ironically end up undermining the causes instead.

A safe deduction from these 20-plus years points to the daunting reality that if nothing is done to fundamentally change the way most countries on the continent are lead, the 21st century for Africa may largely go to waste as did the 20th century.

Mainly responsible for this is that Africa spends most of her creative time and resources fighting change and resisting new ideas and progressive leaders.

Consequently, there is a version of the investment in people other than those who are useful to the maintenance of those in power. The result is reflected in a stagnant society devoid of positive creative force, hapless in the face of the problems that bedevil it.

As such, progress and prosperity have remained an illusion. The most significant outcome from this is the ever growing number of desperate populace.

It is this class, many of whom are youthful, energetic and idle, that constitutes the greatest challenge for the continent. The Kenyan situation of hunger and starvation has emphatically spoken this fact.

If this class keeps on growing, and there is little to show that it won't; that means 21st century Africa will be a fearfully unpredictable accident waiting to explode.

Whatever little progress Africa experiences will be continuously threatened by the anger and frustration of this group that feels that, "heads they lose, tails they don't win" and that this continent is theirs but does not belong to them.

In this way Africa in this century provides a greater potential for strife and conflict as an important mode of resolution of contentious issues.

DR Congo, Darfur, Eritrea are definitely neither the worst nor the last case for the basket. That is why African should worry. African leaders should note that no system with an inherent contradiction can remain operative for long.

Political systems are designed with a vision to accomplish long term goals for the entire state and are not tailored to suit individual ego.

Mr Onyango is an advocate of High Courts of Kenya