The Africa Now Summit 2019 comprising diverse African Heads of State and top business and government executives got underway in Kampala on Tuesday.
The two-day conference, anchored on the theme: ‘Towards a secure, integrated and growing Africa’, plans for social-economic transformation of the continent and creating employment opportunities for the youth.
However, although the theme of the summit was made in good faith, the participants do not possess enough faith to achieve that dream. Leaders talked of various strategies, which included industrialisation, value addition on agricultural raw materials, creation of jobs and education that gives practical skills to citizens, etc.
The strategies are good but is there anything new? None. One wonders whether it required a continental summit to know these issues which have been discussed a million times on similar summits before. The summits have become “slogan exhibitions” for leaders to showcase their grand speeches and oratory fantasy devoid of action plan to deliver the results.
After some time, they hold another summit to repeat the declarations. They meet again to restate their commitment to Africa’s transformation. They go full cycle of sloganeering and conferencing. This cannot deliver Africa from conflict, poverty and underdevelopment.
During the Maputo Summit in July 2003, African Heads of State and government leaders made the “Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”, which contained a “commitment of 10 per cent national budget allocation to agriculture development in the next five years. The declaration was intended to transform agriculture and improve food security through value addition. The declaration was forgotten the day it was made and it remained on paper or in the conference hall.
On Tuesday this week, 16 years later, the African leaders held another summit in Kampala to reiterate the same things.
African leaders must move away from conferences of futile declarations. Africa is dwelling too much in conferences and declarations of “Visions 2020, 2025, 2030, 2040, etc” revisable at every end of the deadline as the rest of the world are developing and transforming. African leaders must address the real challenges that hinder transformation such as lack of meaningful democracy, practical education, and endemic corruption. They should move away from merely talking to action.
As African leaders were in Kampala reiterating their declarations and commitment on Africa’s transformation and integration, one of them had closed its border with Uganda and curtailed movement of goods and people across contrary to the spirit of the East African Community integration declaration. African leaders must get serious. The ordinary African will not be liberated by their fantasy pronouncements on transformation and integration.