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Why Africa shouldn't go austere: Youth speak out

aus cartoonI was having a conversation with youth about what the problem could be with African leadership and if there is a problem at all. The main reason the conversation happened was because I wanted to have youthful thoughts on whether African governments needed to look at putting in place cost cutting measures and or policies, or as we have to come to understand them austerity cuts. It was very interesting what they had to say.

The first said: Austerity measures themselves shouldn't be the discussion. These measures should be implemented while budgeting in Africa.; For example governments should cut down on 4x4 vehicles being bought by governments as they increase certain sector budgets like ICT budgets. Cut military spend and increase health and education and so many others. It is really not austerity measures that are needed but better value for money.

The second one said to me that I was right in assuming that austerity measures would be adapted by governments in Africa at one point, but not soon. This is because African governments are so much about people who want and need to maintain status quo and as a result there is no chance of cutting down on what they think is extremely useless militarism.

The third opinion made was: We do not need austerity but new priorities. All the 4 wheel drive cars must go, medical treatment abroad must become criminal and the size of Parliament reduced. [The latter is in the case of Uganda. There are 385 members of parliament sitting in a house that was meant for 100]

The fourth opinion came from Malawi unlike the others that came from Uganda. The gentleman said that our challenge was whether or not to go austere. The private sector in most parts of Africa depends on government spending so much that cutting government spending limits the growth of other sector sectors and in turn the economy continues to shrink. He went on to make an allusion to football ; they say that when playing the game, the best way to respond to being bombarded by attacks is; to do the same: ATTACK. Africa needs new priorities. The fleets of vehicles that our governments have show that our priorities are upside down. Those were some of the priorities collected from some of the youth that I spoke to.

The future according to these opinions needs that our governments re align their priorities. Our governments do not think about the future. They think more about how to get into power and when that is done, how to hold onto power. Thus, their policies are short-lived. The priority areas that are being debated are not health care, education, encouragement of ICT’s, building of infrastructure and so on. Rather it is a lot of administrative policies that may not necessarily have 10 or 15 years to come in mind.

Douglas Adams once observed that “the best way to predict the future is to build it”. We need to know that the building rules, systems and processes of thought revolving around the future available to us now are paramount not just for now but for the future. Governments need to offer or look into scenarios of how the developments made today may translate into everyday experiences in the future, implications involved.

That is the only way through which we shall be able to have a future that is different. One that does not have the mistakes that others have made. We also have a chance to create our own scenarios, unique to only us.

 

Ruth Aine Tindyebwa
Blogger/Online Communications

Read her personal blog; IN DEPTH which is at www.ruthaine.com

Read more about the author and her view on being a futurist.

 

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