Five barriers to prosperity in Africa: Unchaining the economy through economic freedom

Press Statement by Mmusi Maimane, Chairperson of the Southern African Platform for Democratic Change
February 6, 2017
February 27, 2017

Five barriers to prosperity in Africa: Unchaining the economy through economic freedom

“The African state is today, the most demonized social Institution in Africa, vilified for its weakness, its over-extension, its interference with the smooth functioning of markets, its repressive character, and its dependence on foreign powers, its ubiquity, and its absence”

The above extract is an observation by Thandika Mkandiwire, a Malawian academic. It is an observation to which an understanding of the nature of the African state can be drawn. It is the kind of nature that has over-bearing consequences on the African economy.The stunted growth of the African economy is caused by various factors, internal and external, designed and circumstantial. An unbiased factual analysis of these is needed so as to facilitate a move towards the Promised Land where we can drink from the sweet nectar of a progressive and inclusive African economy. In the following paragraphs, I will unearth 5 of those factors which stand as barriers to the prosperity of the African continent.

I would like to begin my analysis by dissecting on migration, which is the movement of people from one place to the other but for the context of this piece, the focus should be drawn towards the migration of people from poor developed countries in Africa to the rich developed countries across the Globe. While migration is the most efficient responses to poverty as it helps sending countries with the ability to cope with risks that afflict those living in poverty, it is a form of brain drain ,meaning the loss of skilled and qualified personnel by poor developing African countries. These individuals will then contribute towards the expansion of already developed counties abroad as opposed to Africa. Technology plays a vital role in the development of any economic infrastructure, it brings upon efficient ways of communication that support business activities, sophisticated machinery for the mining of minerals and manufacturing of products. Hence African companies need to catch up with the technological trend so as to produce competitive products in the right quality and quantities that allow economies of scale. However due to the monopolisation of new inventions by powerful countries through Intellectual Property laws, African counties find it difficult to reproduce or innovate on products by richer countries, this means African companies or countries have to purchase these products at exorbitant prices which then cripples their ability to manufacture products that are affordable to their people thereby injuring our economies.Such a phenomenon was the cause of the high number of deaths due to HIV few decades ago because pharmaceutical companies protected their medicines through IP laws and made it difficult for African governments to produce or purchase ARVs as they were expensive. These deaths have contributed to the spread of poverty around Africa.

The greatest obstacle to prosperity is the prevalence of civil wars that have destroyed African countries,destroyed infrastructures and have left a lot of kids orphaned and economies crippled. These civil wars are as a result of corrupt systems of governance led by dictators and their shenanigans who milk the resources of the counties for themselves leaving innocent citizens bleed every day from the jaws of poverty where survival is by the braw of their souls. Another contributing factor is our lack of unity, our lack of initiative to create wealth that is sustainable by coming together to from conglomerates so as to build business capitals, take ownership of our mines, farms and means of production.This can only happen when we pool our resources together to create wealth that circulates around us, to create a spider web where we can hang on as a people. This is what Chika Onyeani termed “the spider web doctrine” in his book the capitalist nigger. This means we need to spend money in our communities so as to ensure the circulation of resources and wealth. Runoko Rashid summed it all up when he said the following statement “For black people to talk about building up the black community, marrying other black people,spending money in the black community and supporting other black people is neither racism nor racist. It is collective self –preservation and good common sense”. Lastly patriarchy is another barrier to prosperity where women are looked down upon, the girl child is not given a chance to education thereby denying African economies the contribution women make to the development of African economies.

We need a paradigm shift and change of behaviours so as to move towards a progressive African Economy. Mayibuye Africa!


Tafadzwa Fazenda is a Writer, Actor & a Social Commentator.




  • Quotes by Runoko Rashid
  • Quotes by Thandika Mkandiwire