Reflections for 2017

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guy-bultynckA year ago I concluded my editorial by anticipating 2016 as THE year of challenges for Africa. Today one can’t but observe that the situation hasn’t really changed that much. The stagnation of the economy worldwide has resulted in continuous low price levels of raw materials and an instable socio-political climate perturbs the Continent. If growth varies from country to country, we can’t but perceive that a comparison between the current numbers and the upturn at the beginning of the decade reveals a situation more complex than ever.

And yet it still remains true that even in a very near future the Continent could well become the economic engine of the world. Thanks to its rich soil, a population in which the younger generation makes up a significant majority, the ever increasing urbanisation, and a non-stop technical evolution Africa generally possesses all the essential tools for a programmed growth. This positive outlook is subject to some conditions though. To turn it into reality doesn’t the future African policy need to be updated by adapting it to the varying needs of the different economic, social and political environments of the regions involved? Shouldn’t one be posing questions on and – if so required – make adaptations to:

the current political and economic models? Allowing sufficient imagination in order to tweak – where appropriate – the classic conceptual framework where, as traditionally is presumed, the dynamic of the Continent resides.

the notion of ‘development aid’, which based on sometimes unbalanced economic agreements often suffocates African economies and consolidates colonial dominance? Shouldn’t this notion be discarded? Europe has long stopped being the centre of the economic world, even if it remains a powerful player. In this context a redefining of the relationship between European countries and their African counterparts, but also the Asian states, would be most welcome. Ensuing partnerships should be based on mutual respect for the interests of all parties involved.

the democracy and its elections? The democratic system has found its limits that have been proven time and again. By insisting to replace the age-old African wisdom of always trying to find common ground by a kind of occidental democracy, conditions were put in place in which fraud, violence and theft could thrive.

‘Nice words’, you will tell me, ‘but what difference will they make?’ Well, reading them should give pause to reflection. And in this first part of the XXIst century the private sector could (should!) cooperate to help build a new political and economic context worthy of this era. The framework of a Chamber of Commerce such as the CBL-ACP is the prefect platform from which to try and achieve this.

That is what I propose to you for 2017! Happy New Year!