WASHINGTON – Much has been discussed in the last few decades in regards to Africa’s economic improvement. From the outside, they appear to have been slowed down by the residual effects of colonialization.
Still, in some aspects, Africa has already made significant strides towards progress. In fact, African developments and improvements have exceeded those of developed countries.
So how can Americans learn from Africans? Below are three ways:
1. Elect more women into office
Ever since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has been making amends for corrupt leadership. For the past few years now, the nation has been one of the few in the world with a majority of women in any parliament worldwide. So far, the women are doing a pretty good job of it. Today, they make up 64% of Rwandan parliamentarians who have written gender rights into their constitution in dark ink and granted women the rights to inherit land and divide marital property equally. In addition, these women have managed to even the gender ratio in school classrooms at both the primary and secondary levels of education. Even among the adults, fewer expectant mothers die in childbirth and fewer babies are born, on average, to each Rwandan woman than 20 years ago. If women who survived a bloody genocide could accomplish that much over two decades, imagine what a female dominated government in one of the richest countries in the world could do.
2. Settle regional conflicts
The outbreak of Ebola is not a laughing matter by any means. However, there may be a bright side to the epidemic. Ghana’s government is making progress in the administration of treatment. Similar to Rwanda, Ghanaians’ implementation of reforms comes on the heels of the cholera epidemic that wiped out a huge percentage of the country’s population. However, instead of employing women to fix problems, Ghana is using budgeting tactics. Already the nation has set aside six million cedis, or 1.58 million dollars, to combat the spread of Ebola. Ghana’s not the only African nation that is taking steps to fight the outbreak. Last July, representatives from 11 African countries met in Accra to develop a shared strategy to oust the epidemic. As a direct result of that meeting, Tanzanian and Kenyan medical workers are now working in coordination to share tactics and treatments. One country that is not doing so well in solving regional conflicts is the United States: a relatively gargantuan nation whose people continue to quibble over everything from foreign aid to women’s rights to gay marriage.
3. Report honest metrics of economic improvement
The majority of African economies still suffer from a business perspective. However, Sub-Saharan Africa is making significant strides. Currently, Mauritius is ranked 28th for amenability to business interactions, beating out both France and Israel. In addition, both Burundi and Liberia rank among the top 30 nations for starting a business. If more African governments become accountable to investors, the number of nations within the continent with growing economies could increase significantly over the next few years. The silver lining for most African peoples, however, is that they are at least not deluded about their lack of progress. In contrast, many Americans falsely believe that employment rates are improving faster than they are. This is because the U.S. Department of Labor has changed the way unemployment rates are calculated. They no longer factor in Americans who have been unemployed for so long that they have given up on finding jobs or citizens who are seriously underemployed. Consequently, Americans with hard science and doctorate degrees are apt to end up working part-time for minimum wage.
Africa may have a long way to go in terms of improvement, but these are some things that they are doing better than the U.S.
– Leah Zazofsky