COUNTRIES of the African continent have now attained political independence. The first country on the continent to gain independence was Ghana in 1957, and the last was South Africa in 1994, almost four decades later.
Despite the continent’s attainment of freedom from colonial rule, it has not been spared the shackles of poverty caused by economic bondage to the developed world and corruption from within.
Independence is meaningless if economic freedom is not attained.
Political independence without economic freedom raises expectations of citizens and yet such expectations will not be met.
Independence without economic freedom is synonymous with occupying a big position without authority.
It results in frustration of the masses. It turns the country into an enterprise for the elite sharing among themselves the scanty resources availed by former colonial masters.
It turns the supposedly free State into villain status; it promotes greed and breeds corruption.
It was, therefore, in an attempt to gain economic independence for the continent of Africa that in 2018, 44 out of 55 African States agreed to form the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
This coalition of States to form this free trade agreement came at a time when it was needed the most, when economic subjugation of the independent African States by the developed world had intensified.
It also came at a time when corruption among African States had escalated to the hilt.
It is a time when retrogression is at its peak.
The following are the economic strategies that were used by colonial powers to extort economic power and wealth from African countries.
The main motive for the colonisation of African States by Europe was the acquisition of land.
The Berlin Conference of 1884 crowned the partitioning and apportioning of Africa to individual European powers.
The indigenous people were made to surrender their land, a resource that easily unlocked economic power to Western powers.
Key to the management of economic wealth are banking institutions that are also international lending institutions.
Institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF are exclusively controlled by Western powers that determine rates of exchange of currencies and decide when a currency of a particular developing country has to be devalued.
These institutions provide credit to the developing countries on condition of the latter adopting and complying with the policies of the creditor.
They are in charge and have remained in charge despite that African countries are independent.
Western powers that are also former colonial masters intensified the importation of primary resources from African countries in exchange for finished products.
Traditionally, this has been a consistent, permanent and approved practice.
Raw diamonds are imported by developed countries for processing into final products.
Nothing transfers wealth from African countries to developed countries faster than this kind of trade.
The AfCFTA is an attempt to redress the impact of economic disadvantage to Africa through trade.
In addition to finding trading markets within itself, Africa ought to establish its own independent financial institutions, institutions of higher learning that focus on researching and developing processes for the beneficiation of Africa’s raw materials.
There is further need for the coalition agreement to establish its own international court to deal with the corruption afflicting African States.
There will never be meaningful economic development for the citizens of Africa as long as the elephant of corruption lingers in the room. Seeing that the process to implement AfCFTA is still ongoing and ideas to make it a success still being generated, necessary institutions need to be established and strengthened along the lines suggested in this article.
In conclusion, there can be no economic development without strong and independent financial, legal, educational and trading Institutions.