Africa is viewed as an under-developed continent and certain countries being termed developing and others made reference to as least developed. What astonishes one is how we define development, the standards and indicators of development and how we view Africa in this path of development.
The definition of development is contested by many who would like to share different beliefs and notion about the term. The first aspect of development is improved quality of life where one is able to meet the basic needs of life such as food, clothing and shelter. But development is a step further than meeting the basic needs of humans for survival to being able to do certain things with the use of well developed technology and having enough to cater for the wants of some individuals. This is where Africa as a continent is lagging when it comes to being able to cater for the millions of its population.
In as much as the topic of development can be discussed there is need to find a solution to the challenge. The solutions as i noted earlier should be home-grown and not imported. Many would question this, to be clear i would say the African people know the real problem with the continent and they are capable of solving the challenges. The external powers would bring suggestions as to what they presume or assume to be the problem of Africa and will use the best responses that they have tried in their countries. But we should note that countries have different needs and circumstances and the societal goals differ. We need to be able to resolve our challenges from our customs and ways of life than seek to adopt strategies that have been tried in other countries.
The importation of development strategies and concepts have brought several challenges to the continent. In as much as we need to develop we need not to be desperate and adopt foreign methods of development for it comes with restrictions and guidelines some of which are incompatible with our African tradition and therefore erodes our culture and values.
I would come back to my understanding that regional integration remains key to Africa’s development. Africa should be united before we can talk of development. The unity that people seek for Africa should be understood in different stages and aspects. The first would be achieving social cohesion and the formation of nations. In most of our countries we have states and not nations. Nations share the common aspect and value of unity and that is the missing link. We need to develop new ways of thinking with regards to tribalism and unity in our societies. We need to remove the notion that we are different when in fact we are one. What is the difference between a Shona and a Ndebele.There is no difference and what we need to understand that we should be able to come together and find common ground for survival.
We need to firstly look forward to social cohesion and unity. After that we should then consider economic integration from various countries then we will be able to achieve political integration. The steps to integration can not be skipped because of the need to seek for a common ground that will sustain cohesion and unity. People should find a common ground that will form the basis of unity. If there is no basis for unity then it becomes a challenge. There is need to ensure that people have a reason to unity, and that will form the basis of unity and sustain the integration.
Africa’s integration is possible and should not be rushed. Many would rush to form organisations that have no grassroots support and it becomes a challenge in the execution of orders and decisions that work for the common good. The regional institutions should go down to the village levels and get the people united.
It is the efforts of united regions and countries that will lead to the development of the continent. Political integration will only come last after economic and social cohesion. That which we seek to see should be noted as a primary concern by the many Africans, a united Continent is the only way that will lead to a developed Africa. I am hopeful of the fact that Africa shall be developed in the next few decades, it might take long but it will be one that needs to be founded on good standards for the sake of continuity and sustainability.