For long, Africa has grown dependent on importing almost everything. The continent finds itself in a position where it produces what it does not eat, and it eats what it does not produce. The outbreak of COVID-19 has given Africa yet another reminder – to be properly self-sufficient by producing its own. There is no use in relying on external products when the continent is richly endowed with abundant natural resources and fertile soils.
The whole world has been brought to a grinding halt by the outbreak of the virus, and this has negatively affected business and trading. Most business sectors have been forced to close to curb the wild spread of COVID-19. This means that most businesses in the Northern Hemisphere have been brought to a standstill. The flow of the movement of people and goods has been severely restricted. This means that some goods from the Northern Hemisphere and China are not making their way to Africa.
These glaring changes point to one thing – the urgent need for Africa to utilize its resources and reduce dependency on foreign powers in trading. Africa now needs to get the upper hand – and this implies being self-reliant in agriculture, manufacturing, medicine, and other various facets of life. The pandemic has paradoxically reminded Africa of the need to produce for its people first.
Several African countries have grown fond of importing food products such as maize, sugar, tea, coffee, wheat, etc. when the truth is that these very same countries are capable of producing enough food for their people. The battle with COVID-19 is also centered on food supply and distribution, which have been disrupted by the outbreak. The lockdowns being imposed in African countries imply that most households have limited access to food as they had before.
Agriculture is one area that needs to be strengthened so that every community in the continent is self-reliant. After the pandemic is over, Africa will need to revise its agricultural systems in ensuring that no community is hungry. African countries must invest significantly in mechanized agriculture on a large scale to ensure maximum productivity. At the same time, the rural agricultural economy must be revived and kept alive to make sure that food insecurity is not an issue. This will go a long way in reducing the reliance on importing almost everything from other countries. When a country is self-sufficient, problems like price hikes of food commodities in times of crisis like this one will not be an issue. It will not be hard setting up price regulations since there will not be food shortages.
Governments will also need to invest more in research and development as far as agriculture is concerned. This will elicit solutions as regards maximum crop yields and improving the quality of the product too. Africa should have large reserves of agricultural produce basing on its potential and fertile soil. Food insecurity must not be an incessant problem on the continent. Before the outbreak hit, more than one in five people were already going hungry in Sub Saharan Africa. These are situations that can be eradicated if there is enough political will, which will, in turn, inspire economic progress. When robust institutions are put in place to ensure that this happens, Africa will be an independent continent, unshackling itself from the political and economic tentacles of the West and China. Dependency has always stunted Africa’s economic growth and the well-being of its people.
Since the flow of movement has been hindered, it has become crystal-clear that Africa needs to expand its manufacturing capabilities. Innovation should be given ample space to thrive and flourish as this enables African countries to utilize the human capital it has. The resources are there. The minerals are there. It is time Africa must benefit from what it produces. It is time for Africa to radically improve its healthcare infrastructure. The post-Covid-19 era must be a new time for Africa, ushering in research and development of fundamental industries. Instead of exporting iron ore, gold, diamonds, platinum, lithium, copper ore and bauxite. the continent must export finished products. These resources must never depart the continent as raw materials. The continent keeps losing. These resources must be for industries in African countries.
Africa has been afforded the chance to introspect on the systems that are currently in place. And it is evident that these systems are not serving the interests of the African people, but only a minute elite. Africa must stop being dependent on the West and China and must be self-sufficient. Hunger must be a thing of the past. This can only come to life if there is enough political and economic will on the part of the continent’s leaders.