"The Weekend Read": Development More Than Just a Well. . .

By: Deonta Wortham 

What does development mean? What does development entail? Who ensures that development is beneficial?  There are endless questions that surround the development effort. Additionally, there are countless answers to these endless speculations. Some are rather straightforward;  by and large various arms of the non-governmental oranizations assist in the African development effort. Others not so much; is China contributing to the development of the continent in a favorable manner, that’s subjective. From this one can clearly assume that when development is placed in the context of the African continent things get a little complicated.

For one, I could easily suggest that favorable development across the continent entails the construction of wells, roads, electricity, etc.  To some extent this would be true. But the construction of basic infrastructure across the continent accounts for a small fragment of the development effort. This is not to say that there is no need for the establishment of basic infrastructure across the African continent. But I do want to stress that development, in a conclusive sense, goes beyond the rather minute notion of a well.

 Image Credit: Water Charity

Image Credit: Water Charity

Development, in its truest sense, is the formation of social structures that support and connect societies and their citizens. In doing so, development ensures the formation of sound educational, economic, and medical systems, while dually guaranteeing that there is a well in every village and electricity in every house. Development is the harnessing of the collective will, the broadening of a nation’s horizon. Development, in a literal sense is the realization of a changed tomorrow.

With that said what facets of development are being seen across the African continent today?  What needs to be done, what has been accomplished, and what can we except to see over the next quarter century?

The positives are endless,

·         Currently mobile phone usage across the African continent exceeds that of the United States.

·         Tech companies are constantly springing across the continent sparking an African tech frenzy, and creating countless ICT hubs.

·         Democracy and the importance of the Individual’s voices is by and large respected across the continent

·         Primary education is close to being universally accessible to every African child

And the list goes on.

The list that details areas that need improvement is sadly endless as well,

·         Though 97% percent of the African population is believed to be “employed” only 16% of those individuals receive a “steady’ or “normal wage”

·         Though access to education has more the doubled over the last two decades the quality of the education that African students receive is mediocre to say the very least.  

·         Finally, the African economy is currently functioning at levels that are incapable of supporting transformative forms of development, production and efficiency are poor and the development of human capital has thus far been considered a “backburner” issue.

These are the facts. The reality of what is happening on the ground. Is everything bright and cheery; no. But to be entirely honest is anything in life truly all blossoms and buttercups; no. When examining the development effort across the continent the international community must begin to look not at the current hindrances that face the African continent but rather the immense amount of potential within its borders. Africa is on the rise. Its potential is endless.  Current development strategies, such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063, are providing necessary assurance to the continent saying that change is imminent, and that it will come relatively quickly. The development effort, is allowing the continent to realize the possibilty  of a changed tomorrow.

Hopefully, you now see that development, in its truest form, fails to fit into one prescribed box. It is a multi-faceted, comprehensive entity that extends beyond the reality of one’s current existence. Our task is to envision how we can assist in this multi-faceted effort. How we can contribute to the attainment of a changed tomorrow for the African continent. The first step comes with simply knowing the facts. Here's one, development does not simply end with the construction of a well.