Africa tomorrow: Pathways to Prosperity

About this book

Africa Tomorrow presents the impact of positive scenarios in 11 separate sectors, ranging from health to infrastructure, from leapfrogging to better governance on Africa’s long-term future. This book and the accompanying website futures.issafrica.org provide insights into likely future trends and enable a first cut in understanding Africa’s development challenges and the enormous potential inherent in establishing a continental free trade area, more aid and foreign direct investment, and better education and health.

At the website launch on 22 June 2022, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa commended the Institute for Security Studies for ‘lending its weight to the pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity’. The African Futures website presents detailed forecasts for all African countries and seeks to understand why the continent is trailing behind the rest of the world’s improvements in livelihoods. It then presents forecasts and scenarios for two decades into the future on what would be required to reverse these trends.

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1: Africa’s Current Path

For more than three decades I have been fortunate to travel extensively in Africa and internationally. For several years, from about 1993, I worked in support of the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security in the general secretariat of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, then headed by secretary-general Salim Ahmed Salim. I have enormous respect for Salim, a former deputy prime minister of Tanzania who served as secretary-general of the OAU from 1989 to September 2001...

2: Africa’s Stability

The complex picture of Africa’s prospects for stability requires brief reference to the history of human development on the continent. Because a large part of Africa lies in the tropics and the surrounding regions also have little seasonal change, Africa has a particularly high disease burden (see Chapter 5) that translated historically into very low levels of population density until modern medicine upended this state of affairs (see Chapter 3). The lack of population pressure meant that much of the continent did not complete the Neolithic or agricultural revolution...

3: Getting to Africa’s Demographic Dividend

From several centuries ago until about the middle of the 17th century, countries with the largest populations and the most fertile farming land boasted the largest economies. The size of the labour force and the suitability of the land for agriculture were the main engines of growth, even if they seldom made a difference to average incomes and the vast majority of citizens were very, very poor by modern standards. Chapter 1 touched on how the Industrial Revolution in the West upended this state of affairs – how productivity soared in Europe…

4: Agriculture in Africa

Farming is the bedrock of human development – the organising principle of civilisation, in many ways. Africa, though, is unique as a region in that it is yet to have a revolution in agricultural production. Low levels of investment in agriculture, lack of land reform and the continued use of traditional farming methods leave the continent with the lowest agricultural yields in the world. It is the slow progress in this domain, historically and recently, that helps explain poor progress in Africa’s general development, and is this chapter’s focus... 

5: Health and WaSH in Africa

The next step in an exploration of the possibilities of Africa’s tomorrow is the continent’s health – and how its water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) contribute to this. Earlier chapters have touched on Africa’s high disease burden, and the health challenges that urbanisation has brought to the continent’s cities. This chapter explores the continent’s disease burden more closely, including the contributions of HIV/Aids and COVID-19, and moves to the health transition towards which sub- Saharan Africa is shifting, before examining the possibilities of the Health/WaSH scenario relative to the Current Path forecast for this aspect of life in Africa... 

6: Improving Education in Africa

Education is the foundation of human development and selfactualisation. It enables us to lead a self-determined existence, increase professional performance and improve our health, as Chapter 5 touched on. It is why successful modern societies are called knowledge societies. Governments, world leaders and NGOs across the world – literally all of humanity, with the exception of terror and extremist organisations such as the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram – are in favour of more, better and broader-based education for men and women...

7: Manufacturing and Africa’s Productive Structures

Chapter 3’s exploration of demographics in Africa pointed to the continent’s fast-growing population and the fact that rapid, inclusive economic growth is a prerequisite for reducing poverty and improving livelihoods. But what are the prerequisites for this rapid growth? 

8: Free Trade in Africa

Trade and globalisation are often associated with neoliberal economics, the mention of which is something of a red flag to a bull in much of Africa. Yet, for all their shortcomings, they have made an immense contribution to humanity’s current levels of unprecedented prosperity and development – but less so in Africa than in other parts of the world. Why is this, and what is required of Africa for it to emerge from the trade regimes of its past into a consolidated free-trade future? 

9: Africa’s Leapfrogging Potential

What distinguishes the 21st century from the periods before it? It is surely the exponential rate at which scientific knowledge is advancing, and our ability to more rapidly apply that knowledge practically. In other words, it is the rate at which we are leapfrogging. 

10: Africa’s Financial Flows: Aid, Foreign Direct Investment, Illicit Financial Flows and Remittances

Against the background of the growing gap in average development indicators between countries in Africa and the rest of the world outlined in Chapter 1, and the many challenges the continent faces explored in this book up to now, this chapter deals with the most important financial flows to and from Africa. It gives an overview of the role that development assistance (aid), foreign direct investment (FDI) and remittances play in development, and comments on the burden of illicit financial flows... 

11: Closing Africa’s Infrastructure Gap

Since the earliest days of our evolution, agriculture, technology and infrastructure have facilitated human development. They have allowed denser settlements, and improvements in human livelihoods and productivity in various forms. The three are intimately connected: early infrastructure often took the form of efforts to manage water resources for agricultural purposes around the cradles of humanity along rivers like the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile... 

12: Africa at Work

Africa’s labour force – the portion of its total population considered able to work – is large, and rapidly increasing in size. Important to underline that the definition of what constitutes the labour force includes both employed and unemployed persons - its about those members of society able to work irrespective if they are in the formal or informal sectors, employed or unemployed...

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    13: Governance in Africa

    Democracy, governance, development: which comes first, and what are the causal relationships between them? The debate about this, here called the sequencing debate, is intense. On one side is the history of the steady improvements in levels of prosperity and reductions in poverty among Western industrial democracies and, on the other, the more rapid recent successes of the Asian Tigers and China, with the core differences between the sides being the facilitating role that authoritarianism versus democracy plays... 

    14: Climate Change, Energy and Carbon Emissions in Anthropocene Africa

    Climate change is no longer a distant threat. It is here, now, in heatwaves and floods, among other disasters. It is, without a doubt, the single most important challenge facing humanity, in Africa and in all regions of the world. In fact, many scientists believe that the world is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction event, known as the Anthropocene – the current unpredictable and dangerous geological age during which human activity has become the dominant influence on climate and the environment... 

    15: Bringing it All Together: The Combined Agenda 2063 Scenario

    So far, this book has set out Africa’s current development trajectory – or Current Path – and compared that with the impact of various sectoral transformations that countries on the continent require if they are to achieve much more rapid national development. The horizon has been to 2043, the end of the third 10-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063... 

    About the author

    Jakkie Cilliers

    Jakkie Cilliers

    Jakkie Cilliers is the founder and former executive director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). He currently serves as chair of the ISS Board of Trustees and head of the African Futures and Innovation (AFI) programme at the Pretoria office of the ISS. His 2017 best-seller Fate of the Nation addresses South Africa’s futures from political, economic and social perspectives. His two most recent books, Africa First! Igniting a Growth Revolution (March 2020) and The Future of Africa: Challenges and Opportunities (April 2021), take a rigorous look at the continent as a whole.