I have often wondered why Africa, for decades, has struggled to find its feet and rise as a continent.
We have all the natural resources the world seems to crave. Large deposits of gold, platinum, diamonds, oil and other resources that the rest of the world have already squandered.
By virtue of this alone, Africa should be a pretty peachy place. Yet, when one looks at the continent as a whole, this is not the case.
So where are we going wrong?
I believe the problem lies in our inability to extract and process our own mineral and resource wealth, or at the very least, barter for a greater piece of our own mineral pie.
When you consider that a country like Japan, with virtually no natural resources and a population of a 130 million in an area no bigger than the combined Cape provinces, has aGPD (Gross Domestic Product: The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period) of more than 3 times that of all the African states combined, this should give an indication of just how far we are behind.
Our problem is that we export all these raw materials at our disposal to these countries, like Japan, and buy back these finished goods at a premium. To illustrate the problem, it is like a farmer selling the leather from his own cowhides and rubber from trees of his own plantations, to a merchant for R100. Only to purchase back a a finished pair of shoes for R500.What good is producing a product if you cannot derive any real value from it?
How do we solve this problem? Science and technology.
We need to instil a passion for math, science and technology in our youth, in order to breed the engineers, scientists and researchers of tomorrow.It is the only way we will ever bridge the gap. The only way we will stop ourselves from being suckered into biased trade agreements.
Unfortunately, up until now, our education system has failed our youth miserably.
We believe we are doing them favors when we lower the required passing grade, when we lower the standard of an exam, when we do not challenge them. All these events are conspiring to weake our competitiveness at a global stage. The floundering rand is a testimony to this growing weakness.
Perhaps one day, we will cease all calls of aid to international communities, cease to harbor any thoughts of entitlement. Perhaps one day, when we will look upon a tag of a finished product that reads, 'Made in Africa', with pride.
Perhaps on that day, we will cease to be the African lepers and take our rightful placeon the world stage.
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