By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
Despite drastic efforts by private and Western interventions to tackle Africa’s economic challenges and to turn this sleeping lion into a bulwark of greater economic power through its unique cultures, people and infinite natural resources; poor economic policies and entrenched corruption continue to frustrate these efforts.
With an estimated population in 2016 of 1.2 billion people (http://worldpopulationreview.com/continents/africa-population/), Africa is a major market potential with so many opportunities but poor economic policies, poor accountability and transparency in governance, and the many ‘white elephant policies’ are denying this great continent its ability to move forward.
Faced with a majority of women and children in Africa’s growing population it is prudent for leaders of Africa to understand and accept the changes in population trends and respond equally to the needs of the people. This could only be made possible by passing to law policies that ensure the prevention of all forms of abuse and violation against women and children and protection of the values of democracy
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) states in Article (6).2 ‘Every child shall be registered immediately after birth’, also Article (11)1 ‘Every child shall have the right to an education’.
These two clauses in the Charter are very vital in changing the future of Africa if governments could ensure sound legislatures and the political will. The reason being that if Africa could still not fully provide accurate population figures for the number of children born and millions of these children are left out in education it means public pronouncements by most African leaders that they are signatory to the African Charter is nothing but a way to fool international donors.
Transparency and accountability in governance start by knowing the number of people a country deals with and how changing trends affecting socio-economic development will impact the country in years to come. It is rational for a country to know the number of children given birth in a year and how many died within that same year, because, knowing these figures will help the government to pinpoint its budget based on critical needs.
Unfortunately, most children in Africa don’t even have a birth certificate, least to think of accurate pragmatic response to their urgent needs that are vital in making these children better people in society. Instead of having a reliable data for accurate forecast most of our economists thrive on assumption based on random sampling.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 70 per cent of all births went unregistered in 2000 [FACTSHEET: BIRTH REGISTRATION – UNICEF].
38 % of African adults (some 153 millions) are illiterate; two-thirds of these are women. Africa is the only continent where more than half of parents are not able to help their children with homework due to illiteracy [Literacy and non-formal education -UNICEF].
During the 28th Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council Positions Agenda 2063 as key element of discussion held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 27th January 2016, the African Union (AU) Executive Council emphasized the importance of upholding human rights especially women’s rights in Africa for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa under the Agenda 2063 framework.
The Chairperson recalled aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 which clearly states the African Union position of achieving “an Africa whose development is people driven , relying on the potential of the African people especially its women, youth and caring for children”.
Dr. Dlamini Zuma emphasized that Agenda 2063 is not only the program of the AU but also for the various diversities of African people from all walks of life, the poets, singers, dancers, youth, women and girls, private sector, farmers, entrepreneurs the children of Africa and all African citizens, men and women, young and old, urban and rural as well as the diaspora.
African Union gender equality ministers adopt common position on the post-2015 development agenda with key recommendations to addressing women’s economic empowerment, social transformation, governance, peace and security, and institutional frameworks.
Ironically, while these ideas seem hopeful yet the future of millions of children is still not getting better guidance. High level of corruption, illiteracy, lack of better opportunities and jobs, poor infrastructures, and poor security are among the many challenges facing Africa, putting it at crossroads with contemporary development.
Africa seems to be there but never there because most African governments are not planning for the future but only striving to keep members of the political cycle to continue to keep their jobs.
Now that the African Union (AU) is prioritizing empowerment of women through education, leaders will succeed if the governments would effectively invest in education (technical), research, health, and pass laws for favourable investment opportunities.