By Charles Anyomi
In a telephone conversation with a friend in America, she demanded an answer to a question she asked me concerning the continent of Africa, "Is Africa a poor continent led by rich leaders, or a rich continent ly poor leaders?"
She asked because as an African who has stayed in the States for so many years, she is quite unhappy with the progress on the continent. She is worried about our state and wants to see a transformation.
Africa is not poor. Africa is a rich continent led by greedy and covetous leaders. She is the world's most resource-rich continent with 50 percent of gold, 55 percent of diamonds, 96 percent of oil, 40 percent of hydroelectric power potential and millions of hectares of arable lands.
Indeed, Africa is not only rich in natural resources but also in human capacity, which are its true riches in this twenty-first century. Across the length and breadth of the continent are vast potentials and budding talents of young people which when effectively harnesses and developed, would give impetus to Africa's social, economic and political efforts. The youth of Africa forms the generation of hope for Africa's development.
The greedy leaders
Africa is a rich continent led by greedy and covetous leaders. Africa is where she is today because our leaders over the years have allowed intense and selfish desires for wealth and materialism to overshadow the collective interest of our development. Their desire to acquire or possess more than what they need is our bane.
It is ironic that a continent which has the most resources is unable to effectively harness and develop the potentials and talents of her young people for social, economic and political development. But this has happened because our leaders are interested in themselves and immediate families.
They grab all that there is but are not satisfied; they come to power broke but by the time they leave office they have amassed immeasurable wealth for themselves. When African politicians are "chopping", they do not know where or when to stop.
Billions of dollars of public funds continue to be stashed away by some African leaders while schoolchildren have neither books nor desks nor teachers. Our people live in poverty, our hospitals are very poorly equipped and staffed, our teeming youths have no jobs and our roads are crumbling.
Our greedy leaders have no care for the common people. They misuse funds, hide more in Swiss and other banks leaving the masses to suffer in absolute poverty. It is only greed that will make African politicians divert public funds meant for development into their personal bank accounts to build mansions and buy luxury cars.
Developing the potentials and talents of young people
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"—Nelson Mandela
Africa needs education in order to transform her woes. When Africa's young people are empowered with education they become the key agents for the development of the continent. Well-educated citizens are better equipped for significant economic production.
Education is the anchor of our development and education is what will develop the potentials and talents of the youths of Africa. The youth of Africa deserve education and they must be given the opportunity to get educated.
It is impossible for Africa to realize its goals of social, economic and political development while her citizens have potentials and talents undeveloped. There is no tool for development more effectively than education.
If Africa must develop and be like Europe or America, then Africa must build world class schools. America is developed today because America is home to some of the best schools in the world. Boys and girls in Africa must also develop their potentials and talents, and be positioned at the forefront in the rebuilding process of the continent.
The transformation of the continent is meaningless when the young people do not have education and their potentials and talents are undeveloped and wasted.
Harnessing the potentials and talents of young people
Work gives people the opportunity to put to good use their potentials and talents. When they have the opportunity for this, they participate fully in development and become the key agents for development.
Africa has the most youthful population in the world with close to between 60 percent and 70 percent of the continent's population which represents the strength and the opportunity of Africa. This is a great opportunity to effectively harness these potentials and talents for development.
The young people on the continent are Africa's most educated generation to emerge from schools and universities. They have the requisite knowledge and the competence as well as the energy, strength and the drive.
Africa does not have enough time to waste anymore on development. Her youths need work to re-build the continent. Every talent is needed in every nation of Africa and every person has the right to get work. Africa can only be developed by Africans and the key people to champion this new move are the young people on the continent.
It is unacceptable for almost half of the 10 million graduates churned out of the over 668 universities in Africa yearly to be unemployed. This represents potentials and talents wasted and not effectively utilized to Africa's social, economic and political development.
Africa's leaders must arise and do more to formulate relevant policies to create jobs for the teeming youths thereby giving them the golden opportunity to participate fully in the development of the continent.
A new Africa
Africa is not destined to be underdeveloped and poor. Her current sad situation should not be our lot. In fact, she deserves a brighter future.
Africa has to develop into an industrialized continent: a continent that has a highly developed economy of its member states and advanced technological infrastructure; a continent with a lot of industrial activity and where people generally have high incomes and a better standard of living; a new Africa where there will be world class schools and universities to develop her human capital and good hospitals for the health needs of her citizenry; a place where every school going age child will have the opportunity to be enrolled in the best schools and get educated to become the key agents for the continent's development; and a continent where there will be readily available jobs for young people and they will have the avenue to put to use the requisite knowledge and skills they have acquired in schools and universities for the building of the continent.
The hopes of Africa are her young people and this is the time for Africa to get developed. This is Africa's season to build strong and resilient economies and improved infrastructure using the energies, potentials and talents of her young people. Africa has no time to waste, and we must get to work now!
African politicians and leaders must re-examine themselves and depart from their old ways of greed and covetousness. A new Africa needs a new generation of selfless leaders neither compassed nor chained by greed or covetousness. We can't wait to see such leaders assume the reins of the continent and usher in Africa's most glorious future.