Africa in the XXI century: the future role of Morocco and Portugal*
* Conference by Driss GUERRAOUI**, Lisbon, April 2018
I - Africa in the new global context
The current evolution of the system of the world economy is promoting a redistribution of economic and political power in the world. This new distribution represents the expression of thre the strategy of new actors on the international scene such as China, India, Russia, but also Turkey, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia,Indonesia, South Korea and South Africa. In North Africa, in the opinion of observers and analysts, Morocco seems to emerge as a result of its development for the last 18 years with a proactive, determined, and sustained policy due to its capacity to rise to the rank of new regional economic players, with a synthesis between democracy, Islam and modernity.
This new distribution of economic power in the world is producing specific impacts on the prioritization of regional economic regions and on the flow of trade in goods and movements of capital on a background of failure, not to say the retreat from Europe and progressive loss of influence from the United States in the world.
Such developments encourage to think in new terms of Africa's future place in this global dynamics and develop a forward-looking regional globalization in crisis based more and more on the geo-strategic and geoeconomic alliances in perpetual recomposition.
In this context, Africa has become the theatre of a new generation of wars which is producing new threats. It is the war on natural resources, on knowledge, on intelligence, on engineering, and on values, including their religious dimension.
At the same time in these new forms of wars Africa suffers from the emergence and development of new forms of poverty, pandemics, social violence, ethnic conflict, mass migration, proliferation of activities informal, and atypical forms of economy of crime, such as trafficking in human beings and illicit human, guns, drugs, and piracy, all on a background of proliferation of terrorist movements of a new kind.
The new demographic situation of the continent will further aggravate this state of affairs. Indeed, Africa will be a new world demographic power. Its estimated population in 2015 is evaluated in 1,186 billion people, 16% of the world's population. In 2050, population will increase to 2.4 billion people, 25% of the world population, to 4.387 billion by 2100, or more than 39% of the total world population. Therefore, at the end of the 3rd millennium, every four new births in the world about three will be in the African continent
As a result, economies and societies of Africa will constitute in the coming decades of the XXI century new key markets and sources of growth that will attract non-African States, Regional actors and transnational corporation from around the world.
These trends will produce a new interest on Africa that will grow as a result of the significant deposits and proven reserves available to the continent in terms of water, agricultural, forestry, marine and underwater natural resources, but also of mining resources (more than 30% of reserves) and energy, particularly renewable, thus providing Africa with a geoeconomic position that will weigh significantly on the future configuration of the global economic system.
II-Development paradoxes in the African continent
These paradoxes relate to three essential dimensions: 1) to the nature of the models of development that dominates the continent, 2) to the quality of African elites, and 3) to the governance mode of African economies and societies.
1) Paradox-like development models
The continent has a significant potential for development, certainly with very different national and regional situations in terms of growth level, type of development, and pace of reform, but with common denominators to the whole continent:
- A disturbing continuing deindustrialization, since the share of the manufacturing sector in the total production of African countries decreased from 12% in 1980 to 11% in 2010, and those in world exports of the same products from 5.99% to 3.33% during the same period (sources: World Bank and UNDP, 2012).
- The generalized sub-equipment in terms of infrastructures, including roads, motorways, ports, airports, industrial platforms, electrification and potable water supply, to mention only the strategic sectors.
- A banking and financial system, except for a few rare exceptions, little developed, poorly structured, not sufficiently modernised and weakly integrated into the international system;
- An extrovert economic development carried mostly by some major foreign powers and multinational corporations and not by endogenous dynamics.
The consequence of these paradoxes are a stalematein the continent, problems of mobility that most African urban areas are experiencing, a non-inclusive development, the predominance of a low-value-added primary economy, a modest recovery of the significant potential of natural, mining and energy resources and the insuficient distribution of wealth that does not benefits local populations, mainly because of the poor governance of its elites.
2) The crisis of the elite and leadership
The structural problems that characterise the dominant models of development in the continent are aggravated by the objective inability of African societies to produce political, economic, scientific, administrative and cultural elites, with a level of excellence, competence, integrity and commitment to the extent of the potential challenges and ambitions of the development of the continent. As a result, the continent still remains truly an orphan of its elites.
Also, it is to be seen that in most African countries, institutional systems fail to have the support of the population, including economic, social and territorial actors. As a result, these systems are still far from attracting the confidence in the reform processes carried out by their leaders. This prevents the appropriation of these reforms by their peoples and the citizen mobilization around the strategies and programmes offered to them. Such a reality has a direct impact on the management of the continent's resources.
3)Uncontrolled and unsustainable management of resource abundance
Africa is experiencing a new development paradigm situation compared to what is happening in the rest of the world. Indeed, if the problem of development in Europe, South America, Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East arises, apart from a few rare exceptions, from the management of scarcity. The key issue Africa arises from the management of abundance. This abundance affects both human resources, natural resources, and mineral, energy, marine and underwater resources. This reality places the African continent in an atypical situation with regard to the nature of the paradigm of growth and development compared to the rest of the world.
Hence the importance for Africa to bring together the conditions for efficient governance of all its resources. For it is from this governance that will depend the capacity of the African continent to have sustainable funding to support growth and organize solidarity, as well as to ensure a better control of the many major social challenges of continent.
In the meantime, the future demographic reality will generate increasing pressure on essential social needs, including employment, education, health, food, housing, culture, recreation, transport, sanitation, environment and social protection, in a context in which Africa suffers from important delays linked to endemic deficits.
III-Major challenges facing Africa
Two types of major challenges must be met in order to achieve a model of development based on equity, inclusion and stability: the social challenges themselves, and the socio-climatic challenges .
These challenges focus on youth unemployment, education, health, poverty and social protection.
Concerning youth unemployment, according to estimates provided by the International Labour Organization, on 73.8 million of youngesters in the age group of 15-24 years affected by unemployment in the world in 2015, 15 million are African, or 20% of the total number of young unemployed on a global scale. Their weight is 41% in the total number of unemployed people in the continent, compared with 34% in the rest of the world, with differentiated evolutions according to African sub-regions and countries.
If nothing is done at this level, young Africans will have as only alternatives to evolve into illicit activities, in particular smuggling, counterfeiting, drug traficking, social distruption, with direct effects on the extension of the social and economic informal sector.
The weight of the informal sector represented in 2016, according to the latest report of the International Labour Organization, between 50% and 80% of the continent's GDP, 60% to 80% of jobs and around 90% of opportunities of work created (ILO, 2016).
With regard to schooling, despite the efforts made in Africa, there is also a great delay, since illiteracy rates remains the highest in the world. This rate is, for example, of 32.9% in Eritrea, 37, 7% in Liberia and 41.3% in South Sudan. Girls are more affected than boys. This situation has a very detrimental impact on the productive insertion of young Africans of 15-24 years in economic, social and cultural life, of which 31% cannot read or write according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics.
In the health field life expectancy at birth is, also among the lowest in the world being valued at 59.6 years in 2014 when it is 80.2 years in Western Europe and 78.4 years in North America. The infant mortality rate is also the highest worldwide at 60.4 for every 1000 births in 2014 at a time when it is rated at 5 in every 1000 in developed countries. As for HIV/AIDS, it affects a proportion of the African population 7 times larger than in the rest of the world.
All these indicators of human development are reflected in the worsening situation of poverty in the continent. Thus in 2015, the population of sub-Saharan Africa living below extreme poverty line was estimated at 41%. As a result, only Africa has not been able to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the proportion of the population with less than $1.25 PPP in 2015.
Concerning social protection, according to the International Labour Office, the average of public expenditure on social security in relation to GDP is only 5% in Africa against 25% in Europe.
2) Climatic challenges
Apart from these social challenges itself, Africa is under challenges of another nature, which can be described as climatic ones. These are social challenges of a new kind produced by the non-responsible management of natural resources and by the climatic changes.
Among these socio-climatic challenges are desertification, droughts, cyclical floods, and other natural disasters in the foreground. The consequences of these socio-climatic challenges are the worsening of food insecurity, the reduction of useful agricultural surfaces, the loss of vegetation cover and the forced displacement of whole populations, feeding new generations of wars and internal conflicts, those of water and land in particular and producing a new generation of migrants: climate migrants.
At this level, all experts are unanimous saying that, if the situation continues, Africa will only be able to support 13% of its food needs by 2050. This will pose a new threat to the 65% of African workers, whose livelihood depends largely on agriculture, including children and the elderly, who will be the first victims of food crises in the continent.
Hence the need and urgency to rethink the very paradigm of development in Africa.
IV-Rethinking the paradigm of development in Africa
The major lesson to be learned from the above is need, even urgency, of thinking differently about the issue of development in Africa.
At this level, the first lesson lies in the importance of thinking about Africa's development by the Africans themselves through an approach that must be based on a balance between difficult economic and social situations and the dream of building a better Africa, but evolving on from background of chaos that marks the social and institutional realities at present.
This requires African elites to look at what needs to be done in the short term, which is possible to undertake in the medium term, and what is desirable to achieve in the long term in terms of development, through more effective public policies, respect for the commitments of the leaders towards their citizens and planning and therefore on speeding up the pace of reforms.
This true paradigmatic rupture must, however, be carried out in a free spirit, an independent thought, a positive audacity, a realistic and pragmatic thought, oriented towards the future, far from any self-destructive pessimism and counterproductive afro-optimism.
This way of thinking differently the development of Africa should not make us forget that we need to act quickly to address economic delays, social deficits, environmental imbalances and dysfunction in terms of Governance, with the aim of making shortcuts that would enable Africa to achieve the unattained Millennium Development Goals, the new ones set out in the framework of sustainable development goals, as stipulated In Agenda 2030, the universal social protection base, as stipulated in ILO Resolution 202 in 2012 and those of the world Climate Agenda arising from the Paris agreement of December 2015 and the road map of Marrakech from November 2016.
But in order to do so African leaders must be able to master the changes in progress, anticipate the new major risks and anticipate future developments, by associating all the actors and the lively forces of their societies and this within the framework of Democratic, participatory and accountable governance.
They must also explore new opportunities for partnership. However, in view of the geographical situation, the realities of history and the structural economic links, in addition to the promotion of a South-South partnership, these possibilities must have as horizon the promotion of a new generation of cooperation based in Africa-Europe-Arab world region to build, and where Morocco and Portugal can a real role in the future.
V- Which roles for the Morocco-Portugal partnership in Africa?
South-South cooperation between African countries is increasingly a strategic option for the future. The goal in the future is to build a new united Africa as it was called by its Majesty King Mohammed VI in its address to the 29th summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held in Addis Ababa on Monday, 3 July 2017.
This strategic option is part of a conviction based on four guiding principles:
- No African country can progress on its own;
- Africa must rely on its own strengths;
- Africans must share their knowledge, know-how, geniuses and collective intelligence to weigh in the great stakes of the 21st century world;
- Finally, African countries must make co-development of their economies and co-emergence of their societies the key to their future development.
However, these objectives cannot be achieved without the African countries resolutely engaging in the construction of a new generation of regional integration leading ultimately to the strengthening of inter-African South-South cooperation to build True United States of Africa, that is to say a New United Africa.
It is with this Africa, which has radically changed, that Morocco and Portugal must build a partnership that is focused on the future. This perspective is all the more promising as the two countries have an effective presence on the continent and are overlooking their human, economic, commercial and security relations with remarkable intensification in the last years.
** General Secretary of the Social, Enviromental and Economic Council of Morocco, Professor at the University Mohamed V of Rabat, president of the Open University of Dakhla and ILAC representative in Morocco