The African System

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Director

Theresa Okafor holds a Post-Graduate Degree in Education Administration and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, Nigeria and is a PhD Researcher at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. She is a Director at the Quality Assurance and Research Development Agency, Nigeria (QAARDAN), a board member of the International Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (INQAAHE) headquartered in the Netherlands. She also served as a member of the governing council of Wavecrest College of Hospitality Management, Lagos Nigeria, a member of the African Quality Assurance Network (AFRIQAN) and the co-ordinator of the West African Quality Assurance Network (WAQAN). She is a featured speaker at the INQAAHE biennial workshops in Banglore, Toronto, Dublin, New Zealand and Abu Dhabi and has  participated as a panelist at the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women (CSW), New York 2010 and 2011. She is a coordinator of the Teacher Effectiveness and Performance Appraisal (TEPA) programme for Nigerian headteachers and a director of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH) and the CEO of Life League.  She is the recipient of three awards: the Rhodes Youth Forum Award (Greece 2010) for active participation; the Flynet Award (Nigeria, 2009) for educational promotion and a merit award from the National Association of Catholic University Students (Nigeria, 2008).

Basic Facts About Africa

In October 2010 Kai Kruse, a German computer graphics drew a map of Africa which he called his ‘small contribution towards rampant immappacy ‘ and within this map, he fitted other countries.  By this he wanted to demonstrate that the massive scale covered by Africa was bigger than USA, Eastern Europe, India, China and Japan combined. This was to counter the impression of seeing Africa as a single entity or country (The Economist, 2010).

Figure1: The True Size of Africa

figure 1

Africa has the greatest number of countries – 54 in total – which is greater than any other continent in the world.  Given its colonial past, the language spoken in Africa is diverse with English, French, Arabic, Dutch, Portuguese, German, Spanish and Italian influences. There are over 2000 indigenous languages spoken in Africa.

The economic growth potential and opportunity in Africa is determined by its population of 1.033 billion – the second largest in the world (World Population Review, 2013).  Africa has the youngest population in the world estimated to be about 200 million youth aged between 15 and 24 (African Economic Outlook, 2012). These young people are predicted to be agents that would drive the economy of the continent in the future. It is also acknowledged that quality assured education has a significant and impactful role to play in attaining the human and social capital effects.

The most populous countries in Africa are:

  1. Nigeria: 173,611,131
  2. Ethiopia: 95,045,679
  3. Egypt: 82,196,587
  4. Democratic Republic of the Congo: 67,363,365
  5. South Africa: 52,914,243 

Interestingly, three of these populous countries (Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa) are among the richest who account for half of about half of Africa’s economy (International Comparison Programme of the World Bank, 2014). This indicates a link between population growth and economic growth. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the economic growth of the future is decided by the human capital formation of the next generation in the household (Fagan, 2013; Akerlof 1982). A country that fails to recognize the dicta that the human capital formation is central to economic growth undermines its own economy. According to Gary Becker, a Nobel Laureate of Economics, mothering large families contributes more economically to a nation than the labourer himself ever could because the child is the economic agent of the future (Becker, 1988). This is what makes the protection of the strong and integral natural family really fundamental.

Cities in Africa have the largest population estimates because of migration of people from rural to urban in search of greater job prospects and improved infrastructure. Although there are increases and concerns about urban poverty there are, evidently, more poor in the rural than in the urban areas  (Baker, 2008).  According to the World Bank people who move to urban areas are more likely to escape poverty and inevitably grow economically overtime because urbanization contributes to sustained economic growth’ (World Bank, 2008). Demographers have also shown how standards of living over the years have improved with the world population growth, which contradicts the overpopulation doomsayers who often correlate poverty with population growth. A renowned economist, Julian Simon, who has proven how the neo-Malthusian worldview about the perils of overpopulation failed the reality check asserted that, it seems reasonable to expect that ‘the amount of improvement depends on the number of people available to use their minds’ (Simon, 1981) and this is a view shared by other demographers such as Brunette and Mokyr (1995).  Family planning programmes aimed at controlling population growth distract from focusing resources and energies on the real causes of poverty. Poor people in Africa need water, food, shelter, employment, proper health care and not population control. The government can do a lot in providing opportunities for development given the abundant human and natural resources that the African continent has been endowed with. 

The chart (Figure 2) below is evidence of real economic growth in Africa despite global financial crises and Africa’s population growth.

Figure 2: World’s ten fastest growing economies

figure 2

According to the US Census Bureau (2013), Ethiopia had a fertility rate of 5.55 in 2010, while Nigeria had a fertility rate of 5.50. Now what these African countries share in common with China and India is a burgeoning population.

The chart (Figure 3) below shows the fastest growing economies predicted for

2013 and shrinking economies.

Figure 3: Growers and Shrinkers

figure 3

It is interesting to note that countries like Mozambique and Angola with fertility rates of 5.27 and 5.43 respectively are also featured among the world’s fastest growing economies.  This is in contrast with some of the countries of the Northern hemisphere featured as the fastest shrinkers whose population growths are below replacement levels of 2.1:

Spain – 1.47
Netherlands – 1.78
Italy  – 1.39
Croatia – 1.43
Greece – 1.37
Portugal – 1.50

Ref: US Census Bureau, 2013

Some real problems in Africa

  • Unemployment
  • Urbanization
  • Energy Crises
  • Terrorism – Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan
  • Famine 
  • War 
  • Diseases
  • Illiteracy
  • Inadequate infrastructure
  • Greed and corruption

An Overview of the AFRICAN UNION System

AFRICAN UNION headquartered in Addis Ababa comprises 54 countries of Africa with the exception of Morocco. Morocco withdrew its membership because of the membership right granted to Saharan Arab Democratic Republic, which Morocco refuses to recognize.

Three countries that are currently suspended because the coups that took places in these countries were considered unconstitutional – Guinea-Bissau (2012) Egypt (2013) and Central African Republic (2012).

Countries who have observer status at the African Union are Haiti, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Palestine, Serbia and Turkey.

Founded in 1999, the African Union convened its first summit of Heads of State in Durban. It has important Treaties, Conventions, Protocols and Charters. Some of the provisions such as the ones listed below are laudable but there are others that are quite controversial. The laudable provisions are: 

Constitutive Act Article 3 no (b)

Defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its member states

Constitutive Act Article 4 (o)

Respect the sanctity of human life, condemnation and rejection of impunity and political assassination, acts of terrorism and subversive activities

African Charter on Human and People’s Rights

Two fold objectives of promotion and protection of people’s rights, freedom and duties

Rights and Welfare of the Child

  • every child has an inherent right to life which must be protected by the law
  • state parties …shall ensure …the survival, protection and development of the child
  • the preservation and strengthening of positive African morals, traditional values and cultures

African Youth Charter

Article 23(1) Enact and enforce legislation that protects girls and women from all forms of violence, genital mutilation, incest, rape, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking, prostitution and pornography

Article 26(c)

Have full respect for parents and elders and assist them anytime in cases of need in the context of positive African values.

ORGANS OF AFRICAN UNION

assembly

  1. The Assembly comprises the Heads of States and representatives
  2. The Executive Council has the Ministers
  3. The Commission plays a central role in the day – to – day management of AU, defends its interests and strategic plan
  4. Permanent Representative Committee prepares the work of the Executive Council
  5. Peace and Security Council is in the process of ratification
  6. Pan African Parliament comprises ……is to ensure the participation of the African People in governance
  7. ECOSOC – Economic Social and Cultural Council comprises different social and cultural groups
  8. Specialized Technical Committees are meant to address sectoral issues – rural development, monetary and financial affairs, trade, custom, immigration, industry, science technology, energy, natural resources, environment, transport, communication, tourism, health, labour, social affairs, education, culture and human 
  9. Financial institutions – African Central Bank, African Monetary Bank, African Investment Bank.
  10. There exists the African Court of justice and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights.

A number of contentious provisions of the African Union could be attributed to the Pan-African Parliament which is the highest law-making body comprising 265 elected representatives from all African member states, some of them working under the heavy influence and sponsorship of Western non-governmental organisations and their cronies who are insensitive to African cultural values. 

One of such contested documents is the Maputo Protocol, technically known as The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right and Rights of Women in Africa’. Article 14 of the Maputo protocol is one of the most controversial and contentious provisions of the AU because it confers ‘rights’ (devoid of responsibility) that do not exist such as abortion and contraception. These rights turn out to be a cover for the legalization of abortion and what is more is that they underestimate the seriousness of abortion. Article 14’s suggestions and ambiguities has caused some members of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH) to denounce it as a form of ‘biological colonisation’.

Human rights are now being manipulated and turned into a radical political agenda that are adverse and hostile to natural morality, hostile to objective reason, and ultimately hostile to human life and to the propagation of the human race. Such alleged ‘rights’ are misleading because they trump genuine rights and exclude the rights of a man and his wife and the rights of the family, while ignoring the role of civic, cultural and religious community, all of which play an undeniable role in promoting women’s rights.

The Maputo Protocol is not reflective of African Cultures. It contrasts with some provisions of the Charter, particularly Articles 4 and 5 which protect human life and Article 18 (2) which refers to family as the custodian of morals and imposes an obligation on the State to assist families.  In fact, it was no surprise to learn that the Maputo Protocol was written partly by the London Based International Planned Parenthood Federation (HLI, 2011).

The provisions are:

1. States Parties shall ensure that the right to health of women, including sexual and reproductive health, is respected and promoted.


This includes:

a) the right to control their fertility;
b) the right to decide whether to have children, the number of children and the spacing of children;
c) the right to choose any method of contraception;
d) the right to self-protection and to be protected against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS;
e) the right to be informed on one’s health status and on the health status of one’s partner, particularly if affected with sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, in accordance with internationally recognized standards and best practices;
f) the right to have family planning education

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to:

a) provide adequate, affordable and accessible health services, including information, education and communication programmes to women especially those in rural areas;
b) establish and strengthen existing pre-natal, delivery and post-natal health and nutritional services for women during pregnancy and while they are breast-feeding;
c) protect the reproductive rights of women by authorizing medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus

Bibliography

Africa Economic Outlook (2012) Promoting youth employment in Africa published and updated September 9th 2013. Available online at www.africaeconomicoutlook.org

African Union Commission (2013). Available online www.au.int/en/ accessed October 20th 2013

Akerlof, G.A., (1982), Labor contracts as partial gifts exchange. Quarterly Journal of Economics 114, pp. 1243-1284.

Baker, G (1988) Family economics and macro behavior. Presidential address delivered at the one-hundredth meeting of the American Economics Association. December 29th 1987, Chicago, Illinois. Published by the American Economic Review Vol. 78 No. 1 March 1988 pp.1-13.

Baker, J.L. (2008) Urban poverty: A global view.  The World Bank, Washington DC 2008)

Brunette, J. and Mokyr, J (1995) The standard of living through the ages. Published in The state of humanity (Simon, J. L. 1995) Cambridge, Massachusetts, Blackwell.

Fagan P. (2013) ’What families are best for the economy? Keynote address delivered at the World Congress for Families in Sydney, Australia. Sydney 13-18 May 2013

Human Life International (2011) The Maputo Protocol A Clear and present danger. Available online at  www.hli.org

Simon, J. L. (1981) The ultimate resource. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1981

The Economist (2010) The true size of Africa published Nov., 10th 2010. Available online at www.economist.com/cartography:thetruesizeofafrica

The Economist Online (January 6th 2011). Africa’s Impressive Growth Available online at www.economist.com/dailychartafrica’simpressivegrowth

The Economist Online. (January 3rd 2013). Growers and Shrinkers. Available online at  www.economist.com/dailychart/growersandshrinkers

The World Bank (2014) 2011 International comparison program summary results of release compares the real size of world economies. The World Bank Group Press Release. April 29, 2014. 

US Census Bureau (2013). Available online at www.census.gov/population

World population review (2013) Population Reference Bureau (PRB Washington DC, 2007)

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