Last week a group of Futurists gathered to discuss future development trends for the developing countries. The conference took place in Nairobi under the theme: Foresight and Resilience for Equity.
The conference had a couple of pre-meetings that were supposed to help the various members from the developing countries from the 3 continents put their thoughts together in regards to what they believed were the ‘surprises’ that had taken place in the past few years and that would be vital for the future. The future that was being looked at was the year 2030. Africa being the host but also a continent with developing nations has had its share of surprises.
Priority in so many African cultures and settings is put in Education. Parents will do all they can to put their children through school. Education is believed to be the gate way to a better life in Africa. There is a trend of recent though where Africans continue to take their children elsewhere [other than their home country] to get an education. Could this be because of human nature and our perceptions that, something is always better when got from someplace else? Parents from Nigeria are paying twice or thrice the amount of money paid in their own country for the education of their children in Ghana. The same is happening in East Africa. Students travel from Kenya to come study in Uganda. The systems are different and sometimes the education is not that relevant to their lives back home, but that does not deter them for still getting that certificate. That is why, lots of students crave education from ‘Overseas’ as well. Students will go to Russia, China, Norway: take one year learning the language and then take the course.
ROLE OF THE STATE
One of the questions that came up during the discussions was : Does anyone see a capable state in 2030? This is because there was a shared position that we have not yet fully experienced a real state in any of the countries in Africa. The states in Africa take their citizens for granted. And the citizens are mostly taking it as business s usual. Because that is the ‘normal’ way things are done. So, government officials will take money meant for buying medicines and the citizenry will be annoyed for awhile and then let is pas: after all the state is in charge. In future though, the social contract and how it is going to have to be re-negotiated. We have already seen that in parts of North Africa with the Arab Spring. Priorities of the government were forced to change by the people. Will this kind of phenomena [if it happens all over Africa] cause the growth of capable States in Africa by 2030?
Despite the remarkable progress in fighting extreme poverty, Africa still lags other regions of the world and the decline in both absolute and relative poverty on the continent is considered too slow. According to a recent report by the AfDB, Sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to achieve its regional target of reducing the percentage of people living in extreme poverty to 29% by 2015. One of the trends noticed during this conference was that people are getting comfortable with the status quo of being poor. So today in Africa we have poor people with water and electricity. How is this going to be solved? How do we ensure that there is a transition from poverty to the next class of people? People are wounded because of the situation they are in. Others are guarded. Will this poverty question ever get answered?
Very many trends of what the future could turn out to be were discussed. And there are so many issues as well that are not unique to the African story. Economic migration, education, food security entrepreneurship are all issues that cut across.
The million dollar question is: How can Foresight especially influence Public Policy decisions?
How can we build resilience to the future by use of this knowledge? 2030 is not far.
Ruth Aine Tindyebwa is the youthhubafrica correspondent for Uganda. She is a young female blogger from Kampala Uganda. She is the first ever Heinz Kuhn Ugandan fellow. She has 5 years experience, anchoring News and hosting Radio Talk shows. She is an ardent user of Social media and has pioneered a few initiatives on there like #myuganda256. you can read her full profile here
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