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TRANSCEND Peace University: Africa: Africa in 2064 – A 'Reciprocal Development' & 'Basic Human Needs' Approach

Action alertsTRANSCEND Peace University: Africa: Africa in 2064 - A 'Reciprocal Development' & 'Basic Human Needs' Approach

Africa’s current development models tend to echo the priorities of colonialism, perpetuating structural inequalities that hinder development and exacerbate existing contradictions. To remedy this, development reciprocity and African-centred governance the promotes franchise, representation and responsiveness to basic needs should be adopted

Africa’s challenges over the next 50 years will be complex and multifaceted across its diverse, yet interconnected, states, nations and communities. This paper will explore six themes through a diagnostic and prognostic model, suggesting therapies to address some of the many contradictions experienced across the continent. The connections between aid, economic growth and the environment will be discussed. Political and security issues will be presented as well as social and cultural issues. Whilst the contradictions and afflictions troubling Africans throughout are known and often the substance of cliché narratives, the solutions and therapies are less reflected. This paper puts the latter forward.



The political landscape of the African continent is, arguably, the single biggest inhibitor to unfolding the potential of its composite nations. Sound governance is integral to human development, particularly a states’ capacity to protect the physical security – the very survival of its own citizens (Cilliers, Hughes and Moyer 2011, p79). The colonial grouping of culturally diverse nations led to intertwined socio-structural fault-lines. The resulting political competition and internal fracturing all too often leads to human suffering and violent conflict. Ironically, the continued intervention of the international community – principally motivated by resources – continues to complicate the political viability of many African states.

The prognosis for meaningful development is dire if the current political situation in numerous states is not rectified within the next 50 years. Where the organs of good governance fail – in participation, representation, effectiveness, accountability, transparency and responsiveness – the body of the state can never function as required. For the likes of Zimbabwe, CAR, DRC, Eritrea and Somalia political stagnation appears likely, at least in the short term. But successful models do exist. South Africa, Botswana and Rwanda are likely to continue to bridge community divides through political solutions.


Acknowledging and building on existing centres of power is key to more effective political systems in African states. More governance efforts should be concentrated along national lines. Political models must be adapted to the unique circumstances of each participatory entity – in many cases with a focus on more local, decentralised structures. A consociationalism model may be required in states such as CAR, Nigeria and DRC to enhance representation, participation and trust. Furthermore, a system of ‘non-territorial federalism’ may prove more consolidating. This may be based on traditional and other forms of local collective identities as they live around and with each other (Galtung 2008, p 76). These concepts do not negate the idea of sovereign states as the two systems can be integrated.

The relaxation of sovereign borders may help to further include the politically marginalised of the continent. ‘There would be high level of mobility of people and ideas, goods and services, not confining people within a tradition of enmity to a very limited territory’ (Galtung 2008, p 132). Politics would be local; promoting franchise, representation and responsiveness to basic needs. Policies that connect neglected border areas with the rest of a country are necessary; the development of infrastructure and focused location of industries will aid this. International stakeholders must internalize these political needs of African states. New and old forms of colonialism, in search of comparative advantages, sustain power imbalances and deny representational politics to thrive. Pan-African collaboration and cooperation, through the AU and other institutions, must be promoted through economic, political, cultural and social integration of communities, not just states. Political solutions, whatever these are, must be locally driven and internationally embraced. A south-south-south cooperation connecting Latin-America, Africa and South East Asia could reinforce and aid development along these intra-continental political alignments. To this end, bi-oceanic railroads and highways from Dar es Salaam to Kinshasa could be endeavoured to accompany the efforts currently being financed by China from Mombasa and Nairobi in Kenya on to Uganda and Rwanda. A railroad 50 years too late, which should have been constructed at the very end of the colonial era.



The importation of weapons by African governments and state mandates remains a significant threat to security across the continent (Galtung, 2014). Regular and mass scale importation of weaponry will continue as long as it is profitable for exporters and there is demand from African governments. Cross-border crime such as narcotics and illicit arms trade increasingly threaten border security (Cilliers, Hughes and Moyer, 2011). State capacity to control borders will remain low and demarcation confused. Whilst militarised violence and violent conflict has decreased noticeably, violent crime has increased and is having significant destabilising effects (Cilliers, Hughes and Moyer, 2011).

Poor governance, competition for resources, weak rule of law and, critically, historical fractures through colonial polarisation, have all contributed to the ongoing threat of mass category killing (MCK) which will persist unless contradictions along societal fault-lines are addressed. Increasing urbanisation and the governance of sprawling urban spaces is presenting significant security challenges. Urban pressures, youth unemployment and service delivery deficits drive crime in urban centres (Cilliers, Hughes and Moyer, 2011). Overpopulation and degeneration of urban spaces is likely to breed violence and organised crime. Islamic militancy – Sahel and Horn of Africa – will pose threats to regional security (Ostebo, 2012). Evangelical Christian extremism will likely continue – Uganda and the CAR – with significant destabilising impact.


Massive sales of weaponry: Increasing international pressure is needed to regulate the production and trade of weapons. Strengthening existing law and monitoring mechanisms will be important as will mechanisms holding states accountable for mandates that enable the use of ‘massive killer instruments’ which ironically include small arms.

Narcotics and illicit arms trade: Delineating and demarcating African borders properly will remove the ambiguities of boundary lines and related issues of jurisdiction. Developing mechanisms and policies that will facilitate collaboration among border-area administrative personnel will be particularly important (Ikome, 2012). Effective state control of legitimate boundaries would be achieved by focusing international support on developing both national and inter-state capacities.

Criminalised violence: Addressing the pull factors attracting youth and other members of the population to criminalised violence is critical to reducing the proliferation. This could take the form of economic empowerment, education and enhanced social cohesion through community-centred peacebuilding. Localised investment should be complemented with a focus on enhancing cross-border cooperation.

Massive category killings: Comprehensive political decentralisation is required to empower local communities and remove cross-cutting contradictions. Mediation, conflict resolution and reconciliation, principally through local dialogues, must be prioritized to eliminate retributive attacks. The provision of basic needs – health, education and rule of law – must all be enhanced through improved governance and transparency. And, critically, the international community must engage through a prism of local needs and security instead of short-term resource gain.

Religious extremism: Public education offsetting religious antagonistic media and the use of a mechanism of peace journalism/media would assist in alleviating hate-propaganda (Galtung 2008, p 233). The creation of education programs to be disseminated internally between religious groups and then in conjunction with bodies and institutions (specifically non-governmental) (Galtung, 2008, p. 27).

Urbanisation: Formalising housing and social protection policies may help administrations manage and transform urban slums. Promoting the drivers of productivity – human capital in small and medium enterprises – through grants, tax concessions and scholarships in vocational skills, trade, technology and management would assist in transforming the human potential in these locations.



Development understood as a one-way ‘helping action’ from the wealthy countries to less developed countries (LDC) promotes favourable market conditions for the private enterprises of donor countries and as such is not reciprocal. Foreign companies and countries make far more from tax avoidance and interest than they give in aid (Global Financial Integrity, 2012). Aid is bound to market conditions by donor countries that must be fulfilled by LDCs in order to access assistance (World Bank, 2014:3) and as these practices are put in place in the name of economic enhancement, they come with unilateral transfers of technology (read: gifts) from wealthy countries to LDCs in Africa making them dependent on spare parts and foreign capacity. Furthermore African administrations get resources, by purchasing sovereign bonds. Since 2012, the governments of African countries issue ever more sovereign bonds, significantly increasing their debt to private donors (World Bank, 2014). Foreign appropriation of local resources in LDCs, largely in the mining sector, leads to vast quantities of wealth being transferred out of the country with very little investment in and benefit for local communities (AFDB, 2012). This not only results in environmental destruction and resource depletion but also endangers food security for local communities. (Devereux & Maxwell, 2001).

The mining sector extracts resources in an unsustainable manner that destroys or degrades the local ecology (polluting water, contaminating soil) (AFDB, 2012). This is also seen in agricultural projects, which encourage cash-cropping to the detriment of the environment (biofuels), preventing communities from growing sustainable crops for sustenance and ecological diversity (Leahy, 2013). Agricultural exports are the primary export for African countries. In relation to manufactured goods, agricultural exports have not held their value. Farmers in Africa are forced to produce more yet increasingly earn less, deepening poverty in the region (Arcal&Maetz, 2000).

If the current climate continues, African countries are likely to become ever more indebted and will mortgage current resources which in turn may lead to more internal and external conflict pressure. This will have a compounding impact on the environment and lead to increasing environmental destruction. More and more African countries are increasingly reliant upon foreign financial and food aid as they are unable to meet their own needs through agriculture. Despite exploitation from the ‘free market’, pockets of African farmers have come together to enforce fair-trade practices and some development projects have focused on sustainable permaculture to meet local needs (Leahy, 2013).


In order to overcome assistance/aid as a unilateral matter of neo-colonialism and to consciously focus on global development needs, one approach could be the concept of development reciprocity (Galtung, 2010, p 188). This bilateral development involves two regions developing each other, reciprocally, for mutual and equal benefits, equitably; fostering ‘reciprocally developing countries’ (RDCs) instead of MDC or LDC. This would turn the development focus towards sustainable agriculture projects to meet local needs for sustenance as well as create surplus crops for engagement both with local and global market: eye to eye. This entails improving the terms of trade for LDCs as well as training local farmers to adhere to the production-, documentation- and quality-requirements of standard supermarkets so they can earn. Next to developing local manufacturing capacities to add value to raw materials on-site prior to exporting them, the establishment of stronger trade links between LDCs within the continent, would curb transport costs and boost trade in complementary products – two sine qua non conditions for African progress worthy of the name (UNEP, 2005). Finally, fostering sustainable and environmentally beneficial practices in the mining sector by integrating permaculture concepts into standard operating procedures, rather than mining in spite of the environment, would serve existential needs of Africans best.



Discrimination, social exclusion, lack of healthcare and basic education and marginalization of the youth all have a vast impact on African societies. Social structures maintained by the privileged reinforce the status quo. Exclusion and marginalization are among the root causes of many of the violent conflicts (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa 2011). In assessing the futures of Africa, mainstream development is making significant progress in addressing access to basic needs. However, development in Africa remains technocratic, economic and primarily material. In order to deal with profound issues such as discrimination, gender disparity and minority conflict, it is crucial that we broaden our view of basic needs beyond the material and into the social experience of Africans.


Post-Conflict Reconciliation: More needs to be done to remove the conditions that perpetuate cycles of violence. Delegation of local third party mediators with the direct aim to change the perspective of both victim and perpetrator, establishment of local forms of legal tribunals which draw on culturally specific methods of dealing with trauma and establishment of a historical Truth Commissions with joint efforts of local population would all help assist in healing the fault-lines that exist in many African societies (Galtung, 2005, p 222-227) (Durr, 2014).

Women – Maternal and Child Health Care: Across the board there needs to be an improvement in neonatal care, screening of children for development diseases, promotion and protection of women’s reproductive health rights and improvement in the quality and quantity of maternal health services (UNICEF 2011). Promotion of gender equality with the direct aim of empowerment of women in terms of being active participants in their own healthcare decisions (UNICEF 2011) are essential in the achievement of MD4 and MD5, and as such the promotion of a more stable society.

Education: It is important that education reflect the diversity of African peoples, recognising their diverse historical narratives and lived experiences in rich detail. The indigenisation of education in Africa would include a focus on local languages, histories and ways of knowing, in a sense ‘decolonising’ education (Hettne, 1995, p. 84). Furthermore, if a national curriculum is to be developed, it must reflect the diversity of all African peoples in the proposed region, especially minorities. Finally, it is imperative that Africans further develop their own body of academic literature, particularly in development studies.

Civil Society: In order to improve social cohesion and reduce the likelihood of violence, it is important that diverse groups in Africa communicate with each other effectively and with government institutions. It is vital that strong links are established between development NGOs working in Africa and local people on the ground, particularly through community forums. Furthermore, support through funding or awareness should be provided to grassroots education, arts and community dialogue initiatives which seek to involve people in public life.



Decades of colonial rule have devastated the cultural foundations necessary for effective governance in numerous countries across Africa – breaking ethnic, linguistic and religious ties that had originally bound societies together (Falola, 2003). As a result, structural inequalities and cultural rifts that impede development now exist in numerous nations, while development models are largely guided by Western formal ideals of democracy that are yet to be tuned to the cultures to which they are introduced – which threatens to exacerbate conflict and further hinder development. Unless African culture becomes a central feature of regional development models, it is likely that in 2064, Western approaches will remain dominant, conflict will persist and development will stagnate (Mac Ginty, 2010).


In considering the current failures of the Western development model, we propose the adoption of a cultural framework that will guide the creation of a reflexive development model that is better suited to African nations. We propose a shift away from Western ideals of development towards contemporary-knowledge based approaches. As such, we propose the following five-step plan:

Apology: Governments from relevant countries must release public apologies that: acknowledge their country’s role in past and current interventions throughout Africa; acknowledge the continual negative impact of imperialism and colonialism on Africans and African cultures; guarantee information gathering and reparations to compensate cultural loss (Galtung 2008).

Information: An intergovernmental committee consisting of both African and non-African researchers, peace practitioners, community leaders and activists need to be formed to properly assess the needs of different nations. For the reconciliation process to be successful the committee(s) must engage in open dialogue with Africans from all nations and social classes based on information collected.

Cultural Reparations: Reparations could involve politicians, art scholars and artists uniting to create programs and information services that celebrate the diversity of African culture. This necessitates increased art and media funding in order to encourage and reward cultural expression.

Preserving African Cultures: To ensure the perseverance of African cultures and traditions, a special intergovernmental taskforce consisting of scholars, translators, archivists and computer technicians must be established to ensure cultural documentation occurs in the form of written records. Additionally, an intergovernmental agency must be established to maintain and disseminate written cultural records.

Education: Schools must place greater emphasis on African history, religion, and culture to allow for the development of culturally expressive, informed future generations (Banks 1993). Western governments and regional institutions should work together with African cultural leaders and experts to produce resources that explore the African experience and promote peace culture. These departments should employ experts and performance artists to visit communities to host public lectures, community meetings and perform African art.

African Peace-building Approaches: African peacebuilding and development approaches must become the main focus of inquiry for governments and research institutes. Traditional knowledge of peace-inducing methods should be learned by establishing intergovernmental research foundations concentrated on discerning and implementing African peace cultures.


Africa’s futures will largely be determined by the acceptability of development initiatives across the region. Current development models tend to echo the priorities of colonialism, perpetuating structural inequalities that not only hinder development but often exacerbate existing contradictions. In order to remedy this, the concept of development reciprocity must be adopted, expanded and implemented on a case by case basis. We propose this can be achieved by innovating perceptions of development in the fields of economics, politics, culture, society and security. Politically, there is great need for the adoption of an African-centred form of governance that can stimulate community development and respond to existing national power relations. Politics and future policies need be localised; promoting franchise, representation and responsiveness to basic needs. The long-term risk of insecurity must be addressed through a range of cross-cutting thematic issues at the service of existential basic needs of Africa’s populations. Regarding society, all societal pillars that marginalise individuals and delay social progress must be addressed constructively. African diversity must be recognised and factored into policy-making: culture- and diversity-sensitive frameworks must be adopted to ensure the success of participatory, sustainable and multilaterally acceptable development goals.

Mark Abdelsayed, Madeline Brennan, Ianthea Connelly, Alice Fahey, Carlos Giesbrecht, Sheree Green, David Hale, Jay Frere Harvey are scholars of TRANSCEND Peace University, Term 1/2014.


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