2014 has come and gone in unbelievable haste. So looking back what can Africa’s diaspora claim to have learnt about the continent over the last 12 months? Here are 15 things:
- Africa may be rising, but certainly not fast enough. There were enough scars on the continent during 2014 to bring home that reality. Listen to Ali Mufuruki at TEDxEuston 2014 in London.
- That the power of the state to protect its citizens is practically non-existent. Eight months after the Kidnap of 276 Nigerian school girls from a boarding school in the North eastern town of Chibok by Boko Haram, 219 remained in captivity after 57 escaped.
- Prosperity continues to rise, at the top of the tree. The rich seem to be getting richer which is all very well and good but the trickle down effect remains to be seen as more Africans still live in extreme poverty according to a UN report.
- Nigeria officially became the largest economy in Africa after rebasing its gross domestic product (GDP). The BBC gives a concise analysis.
- Ebola exposed African healthcare systems as weak and highly dependent on external help. However, in the midst of the crises there were numerous examples of heroic attempts to tackle the disease and other healthcare issues led by ordinary Africans on the ground and Nigeria’s emphatic response to dealing with the outbreak on its soil.
- The lack of an African pharmaceutical industry has left the continent’s health in the hands of a global pharmaceutical industry that does not have the financial interest to research diseases that so called ‘poor’ Africans cannot afford.
- The continent continues to be characterised by visionary infrastructure projects be it the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Nigeria’s Eko Atlantic City or the railway network linking Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria and Togo amongst many others.
- Rwanda is emerging as one of the continent’s brightest stars and its more Anglocentric and easy visa arrangements is likely to attract highly skilled Africans in the diaspora eager to invest in the country and by proxy, the continent.
- Africa’s women continue to rise and in the process are becoming, rich, entrepreneurial, political drivers of change.
- M-Pesa is the most successful mobile finance system on earth, whose pioneering work has led to an explosion of African tech businesses and innovative ways to build new businesses.
- The USA reduced oil imports from Africa by 90 per cent signalling a new age of either austerity or rampart diversification for the petro economies at the epicentre.
- That Bob Geldof is still powerful enough to set the agenda for the perception of Africa and still more capable of generating short-term cash than Africans abroad. Long term African remittances still play one of the most significant roles in improving lives but remains uncoordinated and unfocused.
- Thousands of Africans fought and died in the first World War in Europe and further afield, birthing the ideas of self determination, independence and nationalism.
- The UK opted out of migrant rescue on the grounds that saving migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe encourages more to make the same journey.
- China’s influence on the continent continues to be substantial, exemplified by its infrastructure for commodities deals. The benefits appear to be clear but not without their downsides.
To close, here’s a view of 2014 from satirist Ikenna Azuike .