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Tackle afro-pessimism to address Africa’s socio-economic problems – Chakwera

Malawi President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has advised African countries to tackle ‘afro-pessimistic lenses’ and start utilizing the potential of youthful populations, saying this is key in addressing social and economic difficulties dogging the continent.

Chakwera sounded the advice during the session of the Ninth African Population Conference, which took place at the Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe on Monday.

The Malawi leader dismissed assertions and perception that tend to portray Africa as being the most populous continent, yet without solution to its challenges.

“I know that the most popular thing to do at conferences like this is to discuss Africa’s population from a remedial perspective, the kind that says that there are too many of us Africans in this world and that we Africans are simply breeding too much and need to be controlled because they are placing too much pressure on Africa’s natural resources and thereby exacerbating our own poverty and inequality.

“But I find that this kind of thinking and narrative is over-simplistic and smacks of afro-pessimism, for if there is a continent in the world that has enough natural resources to sustain its people, it is Africa, for I doubt that there is anyone in this room who does not know that the unequal distribution of Africa’s natural wealth is less a factor of its population and more a factor of its mismanagement by the greedy Governments within and its theft through unfair international trade policies by the greedy Governments without. Just two days ago, a coup attempt took place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country whose political fabric is constantly being torn asunder by foreign interests in the mineral-rich Eastern region that has become the playground of armed mercenaries sponsored and armed by external forces. After decades of armed conflict there, no intelligent person can argue that the unequal distribution of the DRC’s natural resources to the people of Congo is because there are way too many Congolese in that country,” said Chakwera.

Chakwera makes keynote address at the African Population Conference Pic. By Kondwani Magombo _ Mana

He further schooled participants that other continents are struggling to sustain their labor market demands because they do not have enough young people to work in various industries that are critical to their economies, including agriculture and food security.

Chakwera said Africa is therefore ‘perfectly poised to be a solution to this challenge, if the continent can remove its afro-pessimistic lenses and see that the youthful and enterprising population of Africa as a resource they must harness and equip to solve the sustainability problems that the ageing populations of other nations are grappling with.

What Africa needs are no nay-sayers. Instead, what Africa needs are platforms for synergy, where the population advantage of Africa is married to the human capital disadvantages elsewhere to create a better world across the board. What Africa needs are platforms for inclusivity, where the people in power open doors for the youthful and enterprising citizens who entrust them with that power to make a meaningful contribution to governance and development.

“What Africa needs are platforms for institutionalization, where strong systems and regulatory frameworks are developed and enforced to prevent the prevailing individual and corporate interests from robbing Africans of their national interests and birthright. What Africa needs are platforms for digitization, where smart technologies are deployed at speed and at scale to reorganize Africa’s population and way of life towards resilience in the face of climate change impacts. And crucially, what Africa needs are platforms of partnership, not the old model of partnership between developed benefactors and developing beneficiaries, but a new model of partnership between equal nations exchanging people, services, and goods in a global market with fair rules of trade, fair prices, and fair modes of exchange,” he said.

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