Any analysis that attempts to anticipate the future can never be a foregone conclusion regardless of where it is in the world, and particularly not in Africa. In some countries where the African Futures Institute (AFI) has been asked to undertake such an analysis, it proved necessary to stop, as in the case of Zimbabwe and Mauritania because of changes that had taken place in the domestic political context. Elsewhere, we have pursued the work to its conclusion, although without the debate on the possible visions of the future taking place in the end.
Any analysis that attempts to anticipate the future can never be a foregone conclusion regardless of where it is in the world, and particularly not in Africa. In some countries where the African Futures Institute (AFI) has been asked to undertake such an analysis, it proved necessary to stop, as in the case of Zimbabwe and Mauritania because of changes that had taken place in the domestic political context. Elsewhere, we have pursued the work to its conclusion, although without the debate on the possible visions of the future taking place in the end. From this perspective, the fate that awaited the foresight analysis commissioned at the end of the 1990s by the Ivorian authorities is symbolic. Although an analysis of the future is certainly not an exercise in divination, far from it, the coup d’état of December 1999, staged by General Robert Gueï, had been broadly anticipated and described in its essence in 1995 in a hypothetical situation entitled “The suicide of the scorpion”. This scenario provided a detailed list of the conditions which would lead to a military eruption on to the political stage. But the debate on the circumstances and the means to avert them never took place. The Ivorian government•2 believed at the time that the Future Studies scholars were nothing but Cassandras – prophets of doom who were likely to put bad ideas into the heads of opponents characterised as “enemies of the nation”. The government, choosing to adopt the famous policy of the ostrich, ignored this scenario and even wanted to try to prevent its insertion into the report. On the other hand, it was quick to adopt on its own behalf the most optimistic scenario entitled “The elephant’s progress” and use it as its campaign platform.
The future study that we conducted in Guinea-Bissau experienced a similar fate, when a coup d’état took place. In both cases, the scenarios feared by the ruling party were swept under the carpet, without being unveiled and still less discussed. Unfortunately, they did happen. Could we avoid such an event? Let us give the benefit of the doubt to those who believe that. The only certainty is that our desire to carry out a Future Study in as participatory way as possible has rarely been fulfilled. Despite all the precautions that we have learned to take, each exercise in which we are involved remains fraught with risks.
We are never sure that the democratic debate which should give the analysis of future prospects its full significance has actually taken place. There is no better illustration of this uncertainty, in my view, than the case of Togo, where in recent months I followed the process of drafting “Vision Togo 2030”•3. In my capacity as an expert, I was summoned to train national officials and supply them with methodological support. As a result of my missions to this country, I was privileged to be hosted on a number of occasions by a head of state, Faure Gnassingbé, who was interested in the exercise to the point of inviting me to make a presentation at a Cabinet meeting. Although I had received an extremely warm welcome, I believe that the Minister of Forecasting and Evaluation of Public Policies, Professor Kako Nubukpo, did not benefit from the same climate when, a few weeks later, he reported on the status of the progress of the work. It was not that interest in the exercise had diminished. However, the approach that we were recommending, based on a broad consultation of the population and of various types of actors, was no longer favoured by the members of the government.
Of the 27 interventions recorded during this Cabinet Meeting, 25 were at best guarded, doubtful or sceptical as to the interest of a participatory approach – and at worst, frankly hostile to Minister Nubukpo, who was suspected of having handed the floor to “opponents” on the grounds of allowing them to participate, and also of having assembled a team of “masked men” to make a retrospective analysis of the “dark years” of the regime of Eyadéma senior – which some regarded as tantamount to a criticism of the regime of President Faure Gnassingbé.
Although Minister Kako Nubukpo was reappointed, will he have the necessary freedom in the future to reflect with the same actors – some of whom are trade unionists – on “Vision Togo 2030”? There too, there is only one certainty: everyone will have an opinion on the inclusive nature which he tried to give to the future studies approach in his country. No one ever emerges unscathed from an exercise of forecasting the future. That is the lesson which I have learned from the many people with whom I have been associated.
There are very real risks that the work done in forecasting the future will be manipulated and recycled, risks of which we are fully conscious at the African Futures Institute (AFI). Nevertheless, such risks do not justify standing by and doing nothing. I regard encouraging countries, regional institutions and continental institutions to engage in future studies in the same light as asking a child to brush his teeth. While doing so does not guarantee you against tooth decay, failing to do so will expose you to certain risks, of which one of the most serious is in fact being a victim of tooth decay! Forecasting is a good exercise in social hygiene… In the African context, failing to engage in forecasting is the same thing as giving carte blanche to the Bretton Woods institutions, having no means to challenge them and leaving governments in the hands of these institutions which impose upon them a firefighter mentality – urging them to “restore the macro- economic balances within three years”, for example.
Many documents exist on the future of the continent, beginning with Agenda “Africa 2063”. This document approved by the heads of state serves as a frame of reference for the African Union (AU). It gives the Pan-African organisation a certain legitimacy and allows it to have its say on the desired transformation of the continent. Unfortunately, if we are not careful, Agenda “Africa 2063” will carry no more weight than the paper on which it is written, because each state will have continued to steer its own course in development and to negotiate its projects with its “technical and financial partners”, without reference to the agenda other than in ceremonial form.
Consequently, this document seems to me to be debatable, for one simple reason: it proposes a normative scenario of what “should” be, instead of an exploratory approach to what is possible. Agenda “Africa 2063” is based on a hypothesis arising from a form of laziness, if not actual intellectual cowardice, according to which globalisation is beneficial to Africa and the future of our continent involves becoming more deeply integrated into the global economy. However, we have no guarantee that current globalisation will last even another fifty years or that it will continue to be driven, as is the case now, by finance and technology. I am convinced that other forms of globalisation can now be envisaged in which the peoples, and not just the states and multinationals, will demand to be heard.
As things stand, the weaknesses of Agenda 2063 reflect mainly those of the AU and of the governments of which it consists. In reality, the national authorities still jealously guard their respective national sovereignty. The result is that the AU has scarcely any real power at the legal level. Added to this is a problem of resources, both human and financial. By way of comparison, the European Union (EU) has 30,000 officials for 28 countries. The AU has 3,000, one tenth of that number, for 54 countries and the “Afrocrats” are therefore a tiny minority. And yet it is well known how important human resources are in any organisation. The financial resources of the AU barely amounted to 260 million dollars in 2011, compared with 141.9 billion euros the same year for the EU. Such a budget is just enough for the AU to pay salaries. The Pan-African organisation has to somehow find the rest of what it needs. This type of institution is asked to perform miracles with a few small financial contributions and being forced to beg for financing for its programmes.
Is there a more likely recipe for failure? Our friends from abroad, for their part, are not helping the work to be done. The “donors” finance whatever happens to interest them in the AU programmes and sometimes activities which do not feature in the programme of the organisation. In this auction “circus” of the advisory groups, each donor agency finances some elements, some bits of programmes in relation to its own interests, and its own agenda. As a result, the strategic plans of the developing countries are reduced to compilations of projects which the African regional cooperation agencies and institutions have undertaken to sell. And very unhelpfully, these regional institutions sometimes find themselves in competition. For each director in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, there is a corresponding director in the African Union Commission. For example, NEPAD has an “energy” plan, as does the AU. As a result the two organisations go knocking on the same doors… The responsibilities in the failure of institutions such as the AU seem to me to be very broadly shared between the Africans and all those who claim to be helping Africa or cooperating with it.
Given this situation, what will happen to Agenda “Africa 2063?. We need only recall that the famous Lagos Action Plan•4, approved in April 1980 to develop the continent on the basis of an African strategy conceptualised by the Africans themselves, was buried as soon as it was born. In September 1980, the World Bank published the “Berg” report which served as a basis for the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) which were to be rolled out over twenty years. Agenda 2063 could experience the same fate as the Lagos Action Plan, but there is no hard and fast reason why that should be so. A groundswell movement is still possible, to tackle head-on the long-term analyses of the future prospects of the continent. The context is not unfavourable, because the Bretton Woods institutions are now running out of steam.
There are many documents on Africa’s long-term future prospects•5. The greatest media attention is obviously focused on those emanating from the international institutions. An “Agenda 2050” has been prepared by a small group led by Horst Köhler•6, the former director- general of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2000 to 2004 and also former President of Germany (2004-2010), with Benjamin Mpaka, former President of Tanzania (1995-2005). This document was written mainly by former IMF officials who once again act as apologists for the private sector and African capitalism. Overall, most of this work is based on the idea that globalisation is inevitable and that Africa can gain greater advantages from it.
The idea of an alternative globalisation is only to be found in small circles, such as the Third World Forum led by Samir Amin•7 or our own network. In the work entitled “Africa 2025”•8, we had put forward four scenarios likely to end either in the worsening of the economic crisis, whether accompanied or not by increased numbers of warlords, or in the loss of the traditional values to support globalisation, or in economic growth achieved without denying its history. This last scenario is that of an Africa which, making use of its natural resources, its geographical and market position, would get down to work and at the same time try to ensure that it “keeps its soul”, as Cheikh Hamidou Kane so rightly said•9. In this book, we anticipated a more in-depth reflection, now under way, around a development model which would not be “a pale copy of the West”, to quote Aminata Dramane Traoré•10, but take its own original path. This vision was still at the drawing board stage, a kind of working drawing.
For the moment, there is nowhere that an original development model made to measure by Africans for their own continent exists. It will become a reality only if alliances are formed between African forces and progressive forces of the North, with a vision which is not simply consumerist and liberal. Although Africa is trying to impose an original system on its own, the chances of succeeding are practically non-existent, because it does not carry enough weight in the global arena and is very strongly dependent on external development funding. Furthermore, the situations are so different that it will be difficult to maintain universal cohesion in the long term. On the other hand, if the continent finds some allies, there is nothing to prevent it from implementing another model and succeeding in winning its legitimate claims. The victorious struggle against apartheid should suffice to remind us how much solidarity both inside and outside the borders of the continent is crucial to the success of certain major battles. When it happens, “the sky is the limit”.
Who are these potential allies? In the context of the economic, social, political and environmental crisis that the world is undergoing, those who are anxious to resist the steamroller of the neo-liberals and the neo-mercantilists are undoubtedly to be found among the ecological, anti-capitalist movements, certain political forces of the left and, more broadly, among all those who are not ready to die like idiots and actually challenge the current model.
In my view, only one development model is still hard to find, both in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Some countries are held up as examples, at the cost of simplifying the reality. One may choose to privilege certain aspects and be ready to ignore others. If Botswana, Mauritius and Rwanda give the appearance of being good students in the eyes of the international community, it is because they show evidence of originality in relation to development planning and management in a context of globalisation. However attractive and indeed captivating they may be, their experiments are neither exempt from weaknesses, nor devoid of risk.
For example, Botswana has demonstrated fiscal prudence and has been able to create an environment favourable to investors. The country is certainly highly ranked in the corruption perception index, but it is still ranked 109th of the 187 countries analysed by the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Furthermore, from the standpoint of governance, Botswana cannot claim to be exemplary: the same party – Botswana Democratic Party, BDP – has been in power since independence, granted in 1966, and daily increases its control over the state apparatus.
While many agencies present Botswana as a model of good governance, because its elections are held on the scheduled date and it has an operational Parliament, an independent justice system and a free press, its systems of devolution of power have enabled it to be concentrated in the hands of president Ian Khama•11, son of the first president and founder of the Republic of Botswana, Seretse Khama. Ian Khama is a lieutenant-general, he has been the Commander of the armed forces, deputy president and then president since 2008 and in addition, is the leader of the ruling party.
In Rwanda, a charismatic leader, Paul Kagame, has imposed a certain discipline, enabling indisputable victories in some sectors: access for women to elected office, urban sanitation and the fight against corruption. But how long will the model last? We may well wonder if Rwanda is not still a fragile system, because it is based on the one hand on the bad conscience of an international community, which proved incapable of thwarting the Tutsi genocide of 1994, and on the other hand, on an authoritarian regime, which is not a model of democracy either.
All efforts made to ensure greater transparency in fiscal affairs, business law and the electoral code represent positive advances. Similarly, everything that contributes to the reduction of regional disparities and inequalities between social groups is of interest. There are also a large number of initiatives taken at basic community level, but which remain confined to these levels. The national decision- makers and the international cooperation agencies are not always well-equipped, wearing their macro-economists’ blinkers, to see what is happening on the ground.
It is very often owing to NGOs that innovations are identified, or supported, which are the seeds of change which can transform societies. This was the case with the Gogo Project (“Grandmother Project”) in South Africa, which blazed the trail of taking community responsibility for the HIV/ AIDS orphans. This project was supported by external partners only at a later period. In the same way, a community health project in Botswana saw the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb•12 decide to support a movement which had been born in the villages, where the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate was particularly high. Closer to home, it was the communities in possession of the famous manuscripts of Timbuktu, and not a government or an international authority, which mobilised and succeeded in saving this heritage from the destruction to which it was doomed, if the Salafist hordes had been able to find it.
The importance of religion often appears among the major conclusions of our future studies. The sociocultural landscape is far from being stable or static in Africa because of the existence of a number of cultural systems which are in conflict or in competition. The continent is the stage for a clash between a number of spiritual traditions. This is why, in various places, Eastern and Western influences have been superimposed on the African or “native” traditions, as the culturalists call them. The result is that all the major religions – Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Hindu – are to be found in Africa.
These systems find themselves interacting, in largely competitive and conflictual ways. This results in a relatively invigorating and dynamic picture in which interculturality plays a significant role throughout the continent. The other side of the coin is that where identity characteristics are exacerbated, intolerance sets in. However, we must be aware of ascribing all the problems and failures encountered in the “conflict zones”, these Africas at war, to the conflicts of values. The violence of Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Al-Shabaab militias in Somalia or the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda have little to do with religion, which serves as an ideological screen. On the other hand, they are closely linked to political struggles, in the face of genuine discrimination, or which is perceived as such. The rise of the fundamentalist movements does not account for everything. Even attributing such violence to the politicisation of faith, I regard as tantamount to a convenient shortcut so beloved by the media.
By attributing all blame to religion, there is a failure to consider that at the root of these armed insurrections are unacceptable levels of administrative negligence, the extension of the “state wasteland” as one might term the regions where the state has disappeared, flagrant and base corruption, and the absence of any prospect of decent employment, or of employment at all, for thousands, nay millions, of young people.
Religion and politics certainly do not operate as independent spheres. But the relationship between religions and the public sphere is proving complex and is worthy of serious consideration. The eruption of the spiritual into the public arena is such that the political authorities can no longer – if they were ever able to – ignore the religious leaders and other possessors of spiritual powers because of the role that they play in the structuring of African societies. In many places, God’s footsoldiers and others who intersect with them via various other schools of thought are reinforcing their power. They are gaining ground in proportion to the amount lost by the holders of political power, as they see their legitimacy challenged. As a result, many different discourses and as many forms of legitimacy are being created, though with different vocabularies.
For example, Christianity as it used to be has been joined by new evangelical churches, which are very active in all the countries of the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria and Benin. In the Sahel, the Sunnis and the
Shiites are waging battles of influence within an Oumma (“community of believers”) where Arab Islamic Sharia law is far from being the only reference point. In Central Africa, churches and mosques have to compete with increasingly visible and influential masonic lodges. The supply of religions is diversifying to respond to the new demands which are not catered for by the revealed or traditional religions, or to which the latter cannot provide satisfactory responses. This diversification in the availability of religions could not fail to pose a challenge to secularism, which is now being seen in various forms. In Africa, this secularism is plural: that of Senegal is not the same as that of the Gambia or of Burundi – as is true elsewhere in the world. Secularism in France, where the separation of church and state is a cornerstone, is not the same as that of the United Kingdom, where the Queen is also the head of the Anglican Church, and still less that of the United States, where the president swears an oath on the Bible and where there is a reference to God (“In God we trust”) on the greenbacks, the dollars which are in no way sacred.
When speaking of Africa, we are also speaking of a project, an ambition, a desire to emerge from a particular history – that of slavery and colonialism – and to pick up the thread of history once more with its mythological aspects. However legitimate this ambition may be, it cannot erase the reality, i.e. the existence of many different Africas. Consequently, there is indeed a tension between “the proposal for an African identity and the reality of the African identities”, as the Senegalese philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne expressed it so well at the first Conference of the Intellectuals of Africa and the Diaspora (CIAD), in Dakar in October 2004. Such tension exists elsewhere, as can be seen from the European positions on Turkey. Where does Europe stop? Should we exclude or include Turkey?
The crux of the matter is to stimulate a movement so that the African communities find ways to take the greatest possible advantage of their material and intangible resources. As insularity is neither possible nor desirable, these mechanisms or systems must be brought to contribute to an intensification of exchanges, but in a more egalitarian setting, where everyone is entitled to difference, the right to think, communicate and live together and to act outside the doxas and other dominant paradigms. It is at this cost, and only at this cost, that development will cease to be a headache for the economists, desperate for models, who are hoping to resolve human problems with algorithms and equations. Consequently, development can become a quest for freedom for the Africans, about whom it should never be forgotten that over half are women. How can both men and women be helped to participate in this progress of the world on the basis of what they both want and can provide, in terms of material resources, but also spiritual and human resources? This is the big question which we must reflect upon, the great challenge that we must confront.
•1 Cf. Jacques Giri, “Quatre grands scénarios pour l’Afrique” of this issue of African Geopolitics.
•2 The government headed by Henri Konan-Bédié, president from 1993 to 1999, had commissioned this study of the country’s future prospects.
•3 Cf. Kako Nubukpo, “Prendre en mains son destin sans avoir peur de déplaire”, of this issue of African Geopolitics.
•4 Cf. “L’Afrique et les défis de développement du nouveau millénaire”, CODESRIA wor- king paper in relation to the conference held in April in Ghana on the following topic: “In 1980, the African leaders met in Nigeria to adopt the Lagos Action Plan , which was regarded as an African plan designed not only to stem the crises which were developing in the African economies, but also to confront the constant problems of underdeve- lopment on the continent. However, the ink was barely dry on the Lagos Action Plan when the World Bank published its famous Berg report, which prepared the ground for the imposition of the orthodox and neoliberal Structural Adjustment Programme on the African countries. Over the following two decades, the African countries, under penalty of the conditions imposed by the donors, were forced to implement measures which essentially compounded Africa’s economic problems.”
•5 Cf. the bibliography of the African Futures Institute (AFI), which appears at the end of this article.
•6 The “Vision sur l’Afrique 2050” was the central theme of the 4th Forum on the emer- ging markets held on 21 and 22 June 2013 in Abidjan.
•7 Samir Amin, a Franco-Egyptian born in 1931, based in Dakar, Senegal, is a theorist of altermondialism. The author of many essays, including “L’Implosion du capitalisme contemporain. Automne du capitalisme, printemps des peuples ?”, Delga, Paris, 2012, his theory consists of identifying the unequal development between the centres of capi- talism where the apparatus of production has developed and where the proletariat can have access to middle-class status, as against the peripheral centres where the raw materials processed elsewhere are produced and extracted, and where the proletariat cannot gain access to material independence.
•8 Cf. Alioune Sall (ed.), Afrique 2025 : quels futurs possibles pour l’Afrique au sud du Sahara ?, Karthala, Paris, 2003.
•9 Cf. Cheikh Hamidou Kane, L’Aventure ambiguë, Seuil, Paris, 1961, a novel in which one of the main characters says: “Before donning our overalls, we shall put our souls somewhere safe”, evoking the latent distrust felt in Africa of the Western model, and the refusal to be handcuffed to the business of industrialisation of the world, in accordance with this model.
•10 Cf. Jacques Giri, op. cit.
•11 Lieutenant-General Ian Khama, born in 1953, in power since 2008, is the eldest son of former President Seretse Khama (1921-1980), the father of Botswana’s indepen- dence, in power from 1966 until his death. Commander of the National Defence Forces, he was deputy president of the Republic from 1998 to 2008, before succeeding Festus Mogae and being elected in 2009, then re-elected in 2014.
•12 Cf. Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Secure The Future, (http://www.businessfight- saids.org/news/newsletters/2013/september/case-study-bristol-myers-squibb-founda- tions-secure-the-future-program/), a case study on the clinic founded in Botswana to treat HIV-positive children, and subsequently replicated elsewhere in Africa.
3 bonnes raisons de s'abonner
Share this page with your friends. spread the word
Informez vos ami(e)s automatiquement sur un article ou sur une publication.