Development does not occur on its own; it is made to happen – Prof Evans Osabuohien

The International Conference on Africa’s Sustainable Development (ICASuD), with the theme “Africa’s Economy and Sustainable Development from a Multidimensional and Multicultural Perspective”, took place 20th. October 2021. Prof. Evans Osabuohien, one of the speakers, gave a presentation titled “Africa’s Development in the Post-COVID-19 Era: Historical Antecedents and Future Prospects.”

In his presentation, Prof. Evans Osabuohien emphasised that development does not occur on its own but is made to happen, thereby using his presentation to stimulate discourse on Africa’s development through historical feats.

Prof. Evans Osabuohien discussed some historical feats in Africa’s development and exploits, such as the Egyptian Pyramids (2630–2010 BC), Great Zimbabwe (1100–1400 AD) and the Benin Kingdom. He highlighted that Africa was never destined to be behind as high levels of creativity and ingenuity have spanned the African continent. Previously, communal priorities were upheld above individual tendencies, which was a people-oriented and people-driven development process, he enthused.

Further in the presentation, Prof. Evans Osabuohien elaborated on some prospects for the continent: COVID-19 pandemic offering opportunities for development, such as places of capacity development and investment opportunities (e.g. Public-Private Partnerships). It is, therefore, time for Africans to look inwards by building strong institutional and legal frameworks, which are crucial for maximising the potentials these challenges present; the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) would be a good place to start, he buttressed.

He also pointed out some lessons for other African countries, including strong social contracts between the leaders and the led, great focus on homegrown policies, improvement in access to social services and human development. Since 2018, more women have been in parliament (61% of the seats), and the development has been accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards (Jules Porte, 2021 Rwanda: An Effective Development Model, Rising to the Challenge of Its Sustainability).

In conclusion, the developmental challenges facing the African continent are numerous. However, Africans can keep hope alive by creating an enabling environment to encourage investment, engender value creation and upgrade active stakeholder engagement.

A related presentation was made by Prof Evans Osabuohien in 2019 titled Fast-tracking Africa’s Development through Regional Economic Integration: Espousing Jan Walliser’s Framework as Jan Walliser Memorial Lecture organised by Alexander von Humboldt and Germany Development Institute in Bonn, Germany. The presentation is available here.