African countries have undergone two forms of governance liberation. Yet, they remain stuck in the middle of a third one.
First, it was the struggle for independence from colonial rule and then liberation from dictatorships that merged from independence. Now, many African countries are facing a struggle of getting proper democratic governance.
In several countries, incumbent long-serving political leaders have manipulated the electoral process. Aside from increasing term limits, the methodical undermining of the opposition parties and leaders along with civil societies is widespread across the nations.
The challenge for current governments, regardless of systems used, is the creation and implantation of policies that reflect the immediate and future needs of the people. Healthcare, security, political stability, and development projects are all affected by poor governance.
Corruption is endemic to the way of life in much of Africa. It has permeated all life facets from simple things like access to medical care, schools, and jobs, to the grand scale of it all, like award of contracts and use of public resources.
The effect has been great inequalities both in access to services from government offices as well as opportunities for investment with many local and foreign firms discouraged and forced to close business. Misappropriation of public funds and biased awarding of tenders compromises the quality service available to the members of the public.
As a result, the enormous gap between the classes is further enhanced. While strides are being made by respective governments, the perceptions of corruption and level of trust to the government and the organs show the situation is still far from ideal. Corruption affects key sectors like healthcare, education, and infrastructure resulting in poor living conditions.
The whole world may be facing a surge of unemployment, especially among the youth, but the case for Africa is more precarious. This is because governments do not sufficiently invest in youths.
As the labour force increases, there is a huge disconnect between the older generation in the majority of the policy and decision-making organs and the ever-expanding youth population.
From education to employment opportunities and entrepreneurship plans and assistance, the governments face challenges on how best to mitigate what has been described as a time bomb. This in turn contributes to lower family incomes with many dependents, crime due to joblessness, and a host of other social issues.
The African continent has some of the highest averages for fertility rates and population growth in the world. The statistics alone paint quite a huge scale of challenges now and in years to come. While the average world fertility rate is 2.5 children per woman, in Africa it is 4.7 children per woman.
The current population of the continent is 1.3 billion people up from just under half a billion people in 1980. The UN projects that the annual births of 43 – 62 million every year will double the population by 2050. As growth rates in the rest of the world decrease Africa will contribute 54% of the overall world population growth by 2050.
While the population growth points to recent medical advancements and improved conditions to increase life expectancy and lower infant mortality, the challenge is meeting the needs of this population explosion. While family planning programs in many parts of the world led to a fall in fertility rates, in Africa this has not happened, and even where gains were made they are at risk of being reversed.
With no effective solutions for family planning and not sufficient planning by the government to mitigate and plan for the explosions, countries will be thrown into the vicious cycle that comes with the pressure many people place on limited resources.
Insecurity is rampant across Africa, hindering progress at national and regional levels. From the urban crime to terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab and Boko-Haram to civil wars in South Sudan and political instability in Libya and Somalia, the examples are unending.
The insecurities affect all factors of production, cause massive displacement of people, loss of investments, lives and also scare away direct foreign investment.
Weather patterns continue to be a challenge to the continent which is yet to fully realize its agricultural potential. Prolonged drought periods result in people displacement and deplete grain reserves. It also causes loss of livelihoods for a great number of people in the continent especially along the horn of Africa. It takes countries steps back in development and affects the ability of future generations to rise from a malnourished childhood to better living standards as adults.