Top Pick On Rural Africa: Trends And Headlines
“Africanness is not about being born in Africa, it is a mental attitude that can even be adopted by people from European, Chinese or Asian descent.” – Sandile Memela.
It’s the beginning of a new week and as part of our tradition, Rural Reporters collates a weekly report on development in rural Africa and its environs. The reports include are some of our top picks of recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles to help you keep on top of global crises.
Here are top updates from the previous week.
“Slum-dwelling here in Africa has become normal, a trend to live with, which is difficult to combat owing to numerous factors ranging from political corruption to economic inequalities necessitated by the growing gap between the rich and the poor,” Gilbert Nyaningwe, an independent development expert from Zimbabwe, told IPS.
Overall, out of an estimated population of 1.1 billion people, Africa has more than 570 million slum-dwellers, reports UN-Habitat, with over half of the urban population (61.7 percent) living in slums. Worldwide, notes the U.N. agency, the number of slum-dwellers now stands at 863 million and is set to shoot up to 889 million by 2020.
Development agencies in Africa say slum-dwelling remains a continental trend despite the U.N. Millennium Development Goals targets compelling all countries globally to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
Nigerians are currently going through such a difficult period. Everywhere in the country, power supply is practically non-existent and there’s no fuel to power generators and cars at the overcrowded filling stations.
The only way to get fuel is from ‘Black Market’ sellers, never mind the mystery behind how they got the fuel being sold to people at cut-throat amounts.
Nigerians are obviously not happy about this development and they’ve taken to Twitter to vent their frustration.
Managing Urban Risk In Africa
Urban planning is a key element in disaster risk preparedness and community resilience in Africa, say experts.
Africa is an urbanization hotspot, with 56% of its people predicted to live in urban environments by 2050, up from 40% in 2014, according to the United Nations, which will put the issue sharply in focus at a global conference next year.
While urbanization goes hand-in-hand with development, it is often a driver of risk especially in least developed and low-income countries. Population growth and increased migration from rural to urban areas, due to poverty and lack of opportunity, is causing a proliferation of unplanned, risk-prone settlements in Africa.
‘We need to debunk the myth that Africa cannot be a source of healthinnovation,’ says Director of the Drug Discovery and Development at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Kelly Chibale,. He believes there should be more African-led drug research so that the continent is not just seen as a place where international researchers carry out clinical trials.
Chibale and his team helped identify a compound that could evolve into the first single-dose cure for Malaria. The compound will enter a phase 1 clinical trial next month and is the first of its kind to be developed in Africa. The compound, which seems to be more effective than chloroquine or artemisinin, could prove crucial at a time when drug resistance is becoming a threat in the continent and beyond.
To mark our continent’s freedom, when a significant number of countries gained independence in the two decades after World War II, we celebrate Africa’s liberation from colonial powers on Africa Day on May 25. But decolonisation is still a work in progress. Occidentalisation is firmly entrenched in the psyche of Africans in terms of socialisation, identity and the way we are represented locally and globally.
With a population of one billion, there are only about 280?000 internet users on the continent, according to Internet World Stats, with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya three of the top five countries in terms of internet connectivity.
But who is narrating our story and creating and mapping Africa’s digital footprint?
Have you heard about the Rohingya people? They are a people found in the Myanmar (Burma) frontier with Bangladesh. Like other border communities the world over, they are found on both sides of the border.
Yet this normal occurrence has brought them untold misery. They are a minority on the Myanmar side and are of Indo-European ancestry as compared to their countrymen who are more of Mongoloid.
They are also predominantly Muslim in contrast to the Buddhist majority. They have, therefore, all along been seen as outsiders. The government’s official position has been that they are foreigners.
The key message is that Financing for Development (FFD) in the post-2015 era, needs to go ‘beyond aid’, to include domestic resource mobilisation, ‘smarter’ aid (drawing lessons from private philanthropy, for example) and the mobilisation of private finance. In the case of private finance, the public sector is to play a ‘catalytic role’ in attracting the resources of the private sector.
If adopted, these proposals will represent a significant shift in donor policy. Development funding in the MDG-era was ODA driven, and included a central role for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Relief programme, which ends this year. In contrast, many developing countries, notably in Sub Saharan Africa are now borrowing directly from international capital markets, prompting concerns about an impending debt crisis. For example Ghana, the first sub Saharan African nation after South Africa to borrow from international capital markets after South Africa, has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 60.8 per cent.
Rumbles of discontent have exploded into violence, theft, murder and self-destruction in African communities over the definition of “Who is an African?” This demands urgent answers.
Native citizens of South Africa see themselves as the primary Africans in this land simply because they were born here and have lived here all their lives. They have not been exposed to what they refer to as Africa, except through their interactions with immigrants from the continent.
It is time to shatter the myth that indigenous people know what being an African means in the global village. It is backward and unprogressive to look at and define Africans as a homogeneous group.
In a post-Mandela, post-apartheid and non-racial society, this Africanness is accessible to everyone who lives in this country, whatever shade of black you are – creatively, socially, intellectually, philosophically and, of course, politically.
The new Africanness is a mental attitude that can be also adopted by those of European, Chinese or Asian descent.