The main theme of this research project is the analysis of the negative and positive factors of Africa’s future development. This work includes discussion of Africa’s social, economic, and political situation. The topic has been chosen because it is relevant and interesting to explore. To complete the study, only scholar historical resources have been utilized in order to provide clear and proven information. The aim of the research is to define general advantages and threats of Africa’s future development. Comparative analysis and cognitive synthesis have helped to divide the material into several units and distinguish their general characteristics. Consequently, it was possible to define general features of Africa’s economic, political, and social perspectives.
Africa is a continent, which development course has changed in a short time. In fact, decolonization was the precondition of modern economic and social development. Moreover, this process accelerated social status, increased the influence of the scientific revolution, and led to the rapid development of cities and aggravation of European and traditional cultures confrontation. During the times of the colonial system, the external factor was decisive in determining the direction of economic development in Africa. African countries have the need in market demand and Western metropolitan centers for individual export of foreign capital. Under the influence of these factors, the continent has become a major source of raw materials and products export. However, long-term problems of the continent such as poverty and unstable political situation are still present in a number of African countries and hinder the future development. In contrast, many countries of the continent are experiencing the development of democratic processes and confident steps towards the improvement of economic development. The future of Africa has good prospects if the country continues to provide urbanization, adopts effective trade policy, conducts resource extraction, develops technical progress, and stabilizes political situation.
Despite the global food and financial crisis, Africa’s economy has grown at an unprecedented rate during the past decade. However, although Africa needs tens of years to reduce poverty, the continent still has a great potential. Africa has an abundance of natural resources and is the youngest continent in the world (Clarke, 2012). Africa must continue to invest more resources in young population, economic and social infrastructure because the country’s economy can become one of the most dynamic and productive in the world. After gaining sovereignty of foreign markets, traditional foreign economic relations stayed crucial in determining the structure the African economy. Moreover, the political independence of the domestic factors increased a role of economic structure forming. The efforts of African countries have become the main driving force behind the economy structure transformation.
In addition, this process contributed to the development of the production activity sphere in the creation of import-substituting and export-oriented industries. The path to economic change in Africa had some original peculiarities. After the conquest of independence by other countries in the middle of XX century, the emphasis was on the exploitation of natural resources (Clarke, 2012). Thus, Africa started to accumulate the amount of funding, which gave an opportunity to modernize and make effective exploitation of natural resources. At the same time, trying to reduce the proportion of agricultural production and leaving the dependence on imports, African countries have accelerated activities aimed at creating national industry. During this period, Africa created new jobs and training institutions for new industrial structures as well as increased the level of workers qualification. A general feature of the 70s was stagnation related to the creating of industries with new technologies aimed at self-sufficiency (Clarke, 2012). Without completing the import-substitution industrialization, Africa had no chance to become a fully export-oriented country. In fact, this situation was caused by lack of industrial products for export and closed access to international capital markets. These processes led to large-scale migration of people from rural to urban areas, fall of interest in agricultural production, rise in unemployment, and impoverishment of large groups of people. In the 80s, many African countries have established energy, electronics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, food and other industries (Clarke, 2012). In the 90s, average annual GDP per person grew in half of cities of Africa (Clarke, 2012).
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These processes have contributed to the economic development of certain regions of Africa. However, in the most sub-Saharan African countries, the introduction of a neo-liberal economic model has led to a decrease in the overall level of life in the late 90s (Clarke, 2012). Nowadays, African countries are trying to use progressive economic models (Clarke, 2012). Some African countries are implementing a national program to modernize the economy, which would affect the future of this continent.
Analyzing the development trend of the last decade, scientists conclude the increased importance of Africa in world politics and economy. African countries constitute more than a quarter of all UN members. Moreover, they are active in the discussion of the key global challenges and require a profound transformation of the existing world order. Like many other countries of the planet, Africa at the beginning of the XXI century was at a crossroads to choose the contours of future development and a niche in the international economy (Herbst, 2013). In fact, researchers predict that the contribution of African countries to the world economy is still small, but in the long term, it will increase markedly. The basis for the increase in the world economy is large resource potential as well as the rapid growth of population and labor force. By 2045, the population of the continent will double, totaling 2 billion people (Herbst, 2013). Scientists note some general features of the continent importance for the world economy. In fact, Africa has 40% of the major and rare minerals (Herbst, 2013). Moreover, large corporations are discovering oil reserves in Africa, which is 10% of the world’s resources (Herbst, 2013). Scientists noticed that Africa would provide a quarter of the world’s hydrocarbon production in the future. Africa also has 10% of world reserves of drinking water and 15% of land suitable for agriculture (Herbst, 2013).
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Such dependence of the global economy on the oil and gas increases and strengthens the role of Africa in future international economic relations. The researchers note current positive trends in the growth of Africa’s economy. However, the pace of development is low and becoming 4-5%, but they are sufficient to ensure the sustainability of economic development in the future (Herbst, 2013). Moreover, Africa expands national domestic markets and increases self-consumption. Therefore, the economic model of Africa has great perspectives on future development.
Africa has the highest rates of urbanization, and scientists are seeing an increase in the number of middle class households. In fact, there are several effects of African urbanization on the development in the future. Representatives of different ethnic groups and tribes jointly participate in the production and trade and are forced to enter the permanent relationship. Such interaction is crucial for the formation of the market, rudimentary forms of democratic institutions, and structures (Herbst, 2013). As a result, patriarchal attitudes of some regions undergo extinction. What is more, Africa is improving the management of new processes and the establishment of certain financial relationships, where labor and expertise play a more important role than patriarchal communication within a particular ethnic group. Furthermore, the modern means of communication such as television, telephone, and the Internet is rapidly developing on the continent (Flick, 2006).
Thus, compared with 2000, the number of telephone users has increased tenfold, and the number of Internet users grew four times (Herbst, 2013). In fact, broadband Internet access was more prevalent in the last decade because of effective development strategy. Thus, the number of people who have access to the Internet is constantly growing. Scientists expect that in 2060, it would cover 99% of the inhabitants in the African continent (Herbst, 2013). The ability of countries to exploit the new technology will depend mostly on population. In fact, professional employees are significant for the introduction of innovations and the production of globally competitive products. The availability of study in Africa continues to grow, and it is expected that in 2060, 96% of the population will achieve literacy (Herbst, 2013). Such situation would contribute to the existence of a professional labor force in the future. Due to urbanization, people change their ideas about social values, including the value of money. In fact, money becomes a more important resource than ethnicity. The reason is that material resources would give people the chance to survive, exist, and integrate into modern society (Flick, 2006).
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Such changes in the economy and their consequences in the social sphere are gradually altering the face of African society, its character, and the inner essence of successful existence in the future. In fact, mortality and serious diseases are the major problems in Africa (Flick, 2006). However, Africa has made significant progress in improving the health of the population, and scientists say that this trend will continue in the future. Scientists predict a decline in child mortality in 2060 due to higher revenues, improved water supply and sanitation, and quality health services (Herbst, 2013). Moreover, researchers noted a significant reduction in HIV prevalence due to HIV prevention programs and access to antiretroviral therapy. Nevertheless, malaria is still endemic in most African countries and remains one of the major causes of death on the continent. In fact, Africa will require a significant investment to ensure steady and sustained growth over the next 50 years (Herbst, 2013). Investments are needed in almost all sub-sectors of infrastructure, including transport, communications, water supply, sanitation, and energy. Therefore, if Africa continues to develop social, economic, and political sphere, they will achieve success in the future.
In recent years, the gradual revival of the world economy helps to achieve economic growth in Africa. Furthermore, in recent years, Africa increases revenue from nonferrous metals, gold, coffee, tea, and cotton export. Despite the favorable trend toward African economy growth, almost half of Africans who live in sub-Saharan Africa are still below the poverty line. Moreover, most African countries are not able to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to reduce the number of people suffering from poverty (Wandebele, 2013). To realize these goals, African countries will need to maintain an average annual growth of the economy by more than 7%; however, since the beginning of the new millennium, only 4 out of 53 African countries met this standard (Wandebele, 2013). In fact, there are many obstacles on the way to Africa’s successful future. Firstly, it is an issue of foreign trade. The growth of Africa’s economy is heavily dependent on exports of raw materials and fluctuations in international market prices.
However, the number of countries craving export of African products is limited in the international market, and export diversification is implemented in the slow mode. Moreover, trade barriers in developed countries limit the export development of the African continent. Secondly, African countries must address the issue of debt and the financial support. In fact, developed countries always prolong the debt, but it cannot solve all serious financial problems of the continent (Wandebele, 2013).
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Furthermore, African countries fear that the EU will take the resources of economic support from them to other countries. Thirdly, there is an unstable political situation. This process in some African countries affected foreign support and investment as well as the manufacture and export of domestic products. Moreover, unstable political situation hinders the future economic development of African countries (Wandebele, 2013). The wide spread of serious diseases, hunger, environmental degradation and other issues caused by civil wars and armed conflicts have a negative impact on the sustainable development of Africa’s economy in the future.
The conflicts in Africa may hinder the development of the continent. The reasons for the increased possibility of conflicts in the region are complex inter-ethnic relations. In fact, such situation is caused by heterogeneous composition. Africa is home to about 50 nations and about 3 thousand tribes (Wandebele, 2013). At the same time, the state border is still very tentative and often has no connection to historical areas of the population. The continuous wars and migration flows make a negative effect on the development. In addition to the ethnic conflict, the African geopolitics complemented by social and class antagonism may adversely affect the future of Africa. The struggle for resources, power, and territory is accompanied by bloody clashes (Wandebele, 2013). What is more, traditional conscience dictates uncompromising and extremely violent forms of struggle. Therefore, compromises and cooperation in these conditions become problematic processes. In the second half of the XX century, in Africa, there were about 100 military coups and more than 50 wars (Wandebele, 2013). In fact, 18 of them were civil wars and 11 were genocides and political terrors (Wandebele, 2013). Some conflicts are considered to be outstanding and sometimes erupt in Nigeria, Liberia, Angola, Congo, Somalia, and Mozambique. Apparently, this extraordinary interweaving of the most pressing problems largely exists due to one external factor. After the end of the Cold War, Africa became a victim of the “power vacuum” because world leaders did not spend finances to stabilize the situation on the continent (Wandebele, 2013).
The problem is that prevention and resolution of armed conflicts in Africa cannot be conducted even with the help of the UN. In fact, the UN peacekeepers involved in hostilities and often are hostage to armed groups. Another challenge of Africa’s future development is the absence of leading countries. This fact is important because such countries have serious regional ambitions and necessary influence to put pressure on conflicting parties. The faith-based and ethnic stereotypes, beliefs, and social, ethnic, and religious psychology serve as an inexhaustible source of instability on the continent. However, the democratic principles of coexistence of different religions and ethnic groups legally enshrined in the constitutions of many African countries; however, in practice, they are ignored. Within the framework of religious and tribal consciousness, the ethnic elite may have particular advantages. These factors strengthen the cohesion of the group and kindle fanaticism (Wandebele, 2013). This process allowed scientists to make a conclusion about long-term process of dewesternization. During this process, the significance and influence of Western countries are falling, and an indigenous culture is coming to the fore. Nowadays, African countries must develop rational and perfect economic policies for the future development (Wandebele, 2013). In recent years, a number of African countries have established the necessary conditions for the further development of the private economy. Moreover, they have strengthened the financial reform as well as increased domestic savings and investment in infrastructure and human resources. However, these new measures need to be further improved in all regions to develop prospects for the future because Africa has a weak base and many outstanding issues that may become major obstacles.
Despite the ambiguous situation of the world economy, Africa’s economy retains a tendency to a slight increase. However, several factors have become advantages and threats for Africa’s development in the future. The large resource potential, a rapid growth of labor force, tight economic relations, urbanization, and perspective social policy could make a foundation for a successful future. Nevertheless, poverty in many regions, competition in the world market, financial debt, unstable political situation, and ethnic conflicts could hinder the future development of Africa. Consequently, this continent has good prospects in the future only with effective improvement of economic, social and political factors.
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