Time is one of our most valuable assets; indeed analysis of how we utilize it correlates with the level of economic development in a nation. Throughout history, humans have persevered to invent systems and tools that optimize efficiency. The challenge African Nations face is the failure to minimize the state of confusion and work towards orderliness. A high level of chaos and unpredictability which our leaders have done little to mitigate has contributed to the ineffective combination and utilization of resources condemning Africa to the status of a sleeping giant.
A plethora of sectors in our nations demonstrate how inefficiency can have macro and microeconomic ramifications. Lack of a modernized transportation network significantly hinders economic progress and stands out as one of the root causes of inefficiency. This has impacted mobility of workers and raw materials in a timely and cost effective manner in addition to limiting access to potential markets. Traffic congestion continues to be an enigma in our sprawling urban centers and the quality of roads and rail networks is below optimal standards. Solving this puzzle is imperative to offer our fledgling economies a fighting chance.
Likewise, agriculture the bedrock of a majority of our national economies is on life support as population growth outpaces food production— leading us on a deleterious path to Malthusian catastrophes. Africa has for long relied on food produced by peasant farmers–operating on small scale farms. Diminishing yields resulting from poor farming practices and unpredictable climatic patterns have led to soaring food prices and dependence on imported foods. A paradigm shift from peasant agriculture towards more efficient large scale commercial agriculture utilizing the tools of modern farming is urgently needed.
Population growth from natural causes and migration streams of people from rural areas seeking greener pastures has inevitably led to urban sprawl. Lack of strategic planning has resulted into congestion, illegal land use, poor sanitation, growth of slums and environmental degradation which have placed a financial burden on cities. Uncontrolled and uncoordinated expansion of cities often guarantees inadequate supply of public services, substandard infrastructure, poor transportation and limited commercial development. The challenge our nations face is the need to halt the chaotic process of urban sprawl by aggressively focusing on urban planning and implementing zoning policies.
The culmination of inefficiency within African Nations often stems from a complex network of a corrupt bureaucracy. Administrative barriers and red tape between the people and the government is impossible to navigate without under the table commissions and dealings. Corruption negatively impacts efficiency by diverting resources away from production, loss of public trust in government and creating disincentive to enterprise. Transparency, monitoring, accountability, punishment of corrupt officials and reduced regulatory burden are essential for our economies to be efficient and competitive.
While technology and industrialization have gradually played a significant role in improving our fortunes, the shackles of inefficiency still prevail. Poor governance and leadership have condemned our nations to decades of uncertainty, chaos and stagnation– failing to exploit the abundant human capital and natural resources. Productivity is the cornerstone of economic development characterized by vibrant and efficient economies of developed nations. In order for Africa to play a more prominent role in the global economy, optimizing efficiency is quintessential or else “TIME” will continue to be our nemesis.