I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article by Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills. The article, “Africa in 2020,” is very well written and focuses on the key issues that Africa needs to address and overcome in order to substantially move forward. In reading through all of the recommendations and highlighted challenges, I completely agree with most of the author’s assertions. In particular, I appreciated the fact that Herbst puts an emphasis on the need for “Africa to take charge.” In my opinion, this is a foundational ideology that all the African nations need to have in order to substantially move forward in the next 50 years. International assistance is extremely beneficial and the African continent can learn from some of the Western Nations but the majority of the work needs to be done internally. African leaders must lead the charge by example and motivate the states that seem to be less engaged.
The article touches on several factors that will play an integral role in moving Africa forward and there was a couple that I found to be most critical. The first is the need to mitigate and significantly reduce conflict. Herbst and Mills write about the need for African nations to come up with, “ their own conflict management techniques to help end civil wars from African countries themselves.” (Herbst,6) This is the absolute first priority and real challenge that many African states face in their attempt to find long term stability. Many African states are dealing with violent civil wars, terrorist groups, and insurgencies that all aim to incite some form of chaos and destabilize the central government. If these individuals are still allowed to flourish on the African continent, domestic reform cannot occur. Security must be the first priority for all of the states before focusing on any other objectives.
After becoming a much more safe continent, another significant driver for a positively growing continent is the need for consistent economic growth. Major economic reforms need to be made to reduce the amount of poverty in these countries. Besides security, this is the second most important objective. Developing African states can barely support themselves causing a great unrest within the local communities and becoming dangerously dependent on financial aid from international states. African states need to become financially independent and work with each other to help grow their economies. A great idea that I have never really considered was the role of private corporations and industries. Herbst and Mills highlight that a “well functioning private sector will take some pressure off the government.” (7) These private companies can assist the government in a variety of ways similar to Silicon Valley pushes the country forward with technology or other new businesses that further the individual’s quality of life. Private businesses could also help balance international involvement as well.
These are two driving factors that I feel are critical to moving Africa forward. The only thing that I am not completely on board with is the need for most African states to move toward a democracy. This is an incredibly westernized mentality and although I believe democracy is a reasonable option, in some instances there might be better alternatives to minimize corruption and properly direct the country.
Overall, I believe that Africa will take charge and begin to positively direct the continent. International organizations such as the African Union are continually reiterating the need for African states to take charge and there have been great initiatives to help bring these states together. Again, I very much enjoyed this article as it not only challenged me to think about Africa’s future but also introduced real ideas and issues that I believe need to receive more attention.