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Futurism Is Workless: Calling G20 2020

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Credit: Diego Rivera

Today, increasingly all our work of sorts, repeated laborious and mundane, now openly snatched across the world by robotic revolutions, supported by AI+AR+VR and block-chained programs. This is not a bad thing. This is a global uplift for our imagination creating extra thinking time. Humankind finally on way liberated from boredom of mundane and slavery of grind. Maybe we will produce entire new generations of deep thinkers to live in global harmony, diversity and tolerance, where gender fluid, smiley robots allowed hating each other and backstabbing considered sports.  

Not to destroy our real spiritual values of our miraculous creation; humans originally designed to invent advancements, as if designing a wheel, while our minds, designed to think of wisdom, as if discovering gravity, we cannot ignore the most valuable miracle of our known universe, a mind given to all us as a free gift. Obviously, our relentless pursuits of last decades failed; Tik-Tok damaged and Social Media controlled global populace awaits for new wisdom

History is not just a series of rigid facts but also rather a mirror of our fluid understanding of our own present; the future is not some abstract dream but rather built out of our own carvings from the past. Whatever we did during our last few decades laying out the foundations of our present castles, we now enter, haunted as they are, but this is where we reside. Trick or Treat, candy or no candy, we have to chase the shadows with our trepidations.  

Futurism is workless, but indeed, such revolutionary transitions can only be measured as juggling monstrous calamities but blindfolded or playing with ‘time-machines’ without driving licensees. Equally, not easy is the erasing of the status symbols when century old habits of paper pushing offered security or out of box thinking only created butterflies in the stomach. The decades of enforced cubicalized-culture has hurt our mental productivity, stolen emotional contributions of innovative excellence. Such affairs demand special skills with stamina, wisdom to debate and courage to table action plans with transparency or surrender to defeat.

Acquisition of such skills of nouveau entrepreneurialism, not to be confused with common curriculum in need of elimination at universities of the world offering half-baked notions of entrepreneurial leadership as academic certification.  As a proof, to save themselves from the absence of contents and suffocation of illusionary mastery, they must hang in their hallways the portraits of the last 10,000 earth shattering entrepreneurs who unbounded from the Ivy, dropped out from moist edifices and changed the course of history. Research this deeply as denials will fail.

Today, we kneel in the middle of economic purgatory and pandemic hell…

Today, nation-by-nation, the intelligentsia of the recent past, fermented and marinated in their selective influences, now hiding in panic rooms in need of oxygen. The way out is not to face the pitchforks of restless citizenry but rather new understanding with a new definition of a workless future and how to open honest debates on how such advancement will unfold.

The harshness of the message, written on the wall, speaks volume. Some 200 nations are in the races to survive. Some 10,000 cities are busy figuring out their future. The futurism demands new thinking and new deployments. The pandemic recovery is 100 moons long. The restless citizenry, workless seeking directions, a billion replaced by advanced technologies, a billion displaced by remote working, a billion misplaced as out of box entrepreneurs…time to face the music.

The forbidden hot-topics and major crossroads ahead…

Digital divide is Mental Divide; Mental-divide is number one blockade of digital-divide; such digital transitions feared for fast speed of performance to expose incompetency of workers. Furthermore, creating redundancy and fearing for creating accuracy of work exposing checks and balances to display hidden mismanagement, as such slowing down overall speed and performance and destroying economies. Despite worldwide access to almost no-cost technologies since the past decade, the majority of nations still buried under heaps of paper to avoid exposing proper columns indicating correct balances and totals. Only digitized nations will thrive in a digitized world.  National leaderships across the world must issue decree not to fire during transition for incompetency but rather guarantee them upskilling and reskilling options.

Micro-Power-Nations and Super-Power-Nations: As Super-Power-Nations lost their powers to fix the entire world, but now Micro-Power-Nations will try. Super power economies more aligned to attacking or destroying other economies as a prime necessity for their own survival. While new emerging Micro-Power-Nations are upcoming hungry performers with very special skills and are willing and able to help any small or super power without threatening their base of power. These 100 plus, Micro-Power-Nations may deploy highly selective, well-trained and extraordinary strengths and deliver surgical solutions to any mammoth nation and mutually rewarded. Such specialized capabilities will create universal borderless residencies, merit-based immigration, global friendly fair-trading, and unlimited human resources platforms for the new global age world. This is not about armies invading, here armies of entrepreneurs landing in collaborative synthesizing to create massive local prosperity. Such advancement will affect thousands of cities and nations and will towards faster advancements. Technology silently creates some 100 plus mighty micro power nations that with upskilling play a key role.

The Population-Rich vs. Knowledge-Rich Nations:  Pandemic recovery demands economic intellectualism to embrace futurism as global shifts from ‘knowledge-rich-nations’ to ‘population-rich-nations’ changing economic behavior across the world. Decades ago, large populations in any country considered an economic curse; sheer burden of visible poverty, scenes of survival and struggle of feeding millions of hungry mouths provided the blatant proof. Today considered a blessing; when citizens armed with mobile online transactional centers, digital humming and trading with billions of devices with trade activity are now new proofs of economic vibrancy for such overly populated nations.

Over centuries, the supremacy of knowledge housed in the West, Knowledge Rich Nations, primarily the developed economies now harshly tested as such outdated wealth of knowledge as if water gushing down from broken dams flooding faraway lands across the world. Knowledge-rich nations must rapidly re-learn how to compete and survive against highly agile and low-cost brilliance creating shine within some 100 emerging population-rich nations. The monopoly of knowledge has been shattered. Population-Rich-Nations must become platform economies; thrive on national mobilization of entrepreneurialism platforms of upskilling 

Referenced from “15 Monster Trends– by Naseem Javed” Dec 2014

National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism:  Struggling economies of the world are visibly showing the lack of upskilling of exporters and reskilling of manufacturers across their national small and midsize vertical business sectors.  Key Questions: Are there 1,000, 10,000 or 100,000 high potential small medium business enterprises within a region or a nation? Are they doing USD $1-20 million in annual turnover and ready to further quadruple growth via exports? Is there a national agenda on upskilling, reskilling for fast track transformation to recovery and job creation? Are Associations and Chambers of Commerce receptive to such goals on creating excellence and exportability?

Key Realities: Unlimited, global markets can absorb unlimited innovative ideas, goods and services. Unlimited, SME Founders with entrepreneurial talent and energy are always anxious for global age expansion. Unlimited, well-designed, innovative ideas and global age skills can quadruple enterprise performance. Missing Links, lack of upskilling, reskilling and global-age thinking and execution styles are all strangling growth. Key Agenda for Discussions: How digitization of national entrepreneurialism on upskilling platforms saves economies and creates growth?  How simultaneous synchronization of upskilling of 100,000 SMEs and MFGs results in exports within a nation?  How is the Pentiana Project placing 25,000 SME MFG on digital platforms of upskilling and soon add another 100,000 SMEs?  How Chambers & Associations will take lead, creating a marathon on exportability, and inviting a national dialogue?

Understanding the Last Seven Societies: How 100 years of evolution has landed us here; during the Print Society in 1900, when the printed word was power, literacy was perquisite and only the privileged had access to knowledge. Why similar scenario 120 years later occurring today, futurism demands futuristic literacy.

“The Radio Society made its impact after a quarter century. It brought information freely available to the air and music to tap dance on assembly line floors. The ‘voice’ created radio-personalities with opinions and opinion leadership became noticeable. There were 5 other major societies.  TV Society brought live action dramas, and started the colorful consumerism. Telecom Society shorthanded distance and created standardization. The Computer Society created miniaturization and a sense of accuracy. The Cyber Society brought the world to the desk and started the diffusion between work and other lifestyles. We just left the Click Society, which brought the world into our pockets and seriously disrupted the traditional work model. “

Excerpted Source: Naseem Javed, Sunrise, Day One, Year 2000.

Expothon is also planning a “Special Senior Level Regular 3-Hour-Webinar-Workshop-Series” in 2021 to create detailed and pragmatic discussions with powerful and specific debates with pragmatic and immediately implementable solutions. The “National Mobilization of SME via Upskilling on Exports” calibrated for the selected 100 Chambers and 100 Special Trade Associations across the world along with gatekeepers of trade and commerce of selected countries.

Recommendations:

The Micro-Exports: With some 500 million SME in the world, a billion new big and small, young and old entrepreneurs on the march, G20 2020 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia had some great opportunities to table tactical combative blueprints to advance the challenges of local grassroots prosperity. As a smarter way to save economies, the emergence of such “Micro-Exports” thinking on global exportability, amongst most of the ‘micro-power-nations’ and ‘super-power-nations’ creates “productive occupationalism” and keeps their restless citizenry away from magnetizing towards populism.

The New Blocks: With global block emerging, The RCEP, ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership’, now the world’s largest free trading block comes into action. Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand,  Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. Upskilling exporters and reskilling manufacturers the new way of the future to create grassroots prosperity becomes a logical progression.

The Economic Recovery: The G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico,  ​Republic o​f Korea,​Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, ​​​Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the EU the European Union. They have serious differences and critical pathways, but the commonalities of problem points to pandemic recovery and economic prosperity gaps to calm restless citizenry. Nevertheless, missing from the main action plans, the national mobilization of entrepreneurialism to create upskilling platforms to upscale small medium business bases will be a serious challenge. Optimizations of zoomerang culture of high quality virtual events are still at infancy… therefore, next generation of curated events will bring global economics more closely and display new thinking live across the world. 

The rest is easy.

Naseem Javed is a corporate philosopher, Chairman of Expothon Worldwide; a Canadian Think tank focused on National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism Protocols on Platform Economy and exportability solutions now gaining global attention. His latest book; Alpha Dreamers; the five billions connected who will change the world.

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Build Back Better World: An Alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative?

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The G7 Summit is all the hype on the global diplomatic canvas. While the Biden-Putin talk is another awaited juncture of the Summit, the announcement of an initiative has wowed just as many whilst irked a few. The Group of Seven (G7) partners: the US, France, the UK, Canada, Italy, Japan, and Germany, launched a global infrastructure initiative to meet the colossal infrastructural needs of the low and middle-income countries. The Project – Build Back Better World (B3W) – is aimed to be a partnership between the most developed economies, namely the G7 members, to help narrow the estimated $40 trillion worth of infrastructure needed in the developing world. However, the project seems to be directed as a rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Amidst sharp criticism posed against the People’s Republic during the Summit, the B3W initiative appears to be an alternative multi-lateral funding program to the BRI. Yet, the developing world is the least of the concerns for the optimistic model challenging the Asian giant.

While the B3W claims to be a highly cohesive initiative, the BRI has expanded beyond comprehension and would be extremely difficult to dethrone, even when some of the most lucrative economies of the world are joining heads to compete over the largely untapped potential of the region. Now let’s be fair and contest that neither the G7 nor China intends the welfare of the region over profiteering. However, China enjoys a headstart. The BRI was unveiled back in 2013 by president Xi Jinping. The initiative was projected as a transcontinental long-term policy and investment program aimed to consolidate infrastructural development and gear economic integration of the developing countries falling along the route of the historic Silk Road. 

The highly sophisticated project is a long-envisioned dream of China’s Communist Party; operating on the premise of dominating the networks between the continents to establish unarguable sovereignty over the regional economic and policy decision-making. Referring to the official outline of the BRI issued by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the BRI drives to: “Promote the connectivity of Asian, European, and African continents and their adjacent seas, establish and strengthen partnerships among the countries along the Belt and Road [Silk Road], set up all-dimensional, multi-tiered and composite connectivity networks and realize diversified, independent, balanced, and sustainable development in these countries”. The excerpt clearly amplifies the thought process and the main agenda of the BRI. On the other hand, the B3W simply stands as a superfluous rival to an already outgrowing program.

Initially known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), the BRI has since expanded in the infrastructural niche of the region, primarily including emerging markets like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The standout feature of the BRI has been the mutually inclusive nature of the projects, that is, the BRI has been commandeering projects in many of the rival countries in the region yet the initiative manages to keep the projects running in parallel without any interference or impediment. With a loose hold on the governance whilst giving a free hand to the political and social realities of each specific country, the BRI program presents a perfect opportunity to jump the bandwagon and obtain funding for development projects without undergoing scrutiny and complications. With such attractive nature of the BRI, the program has significantly grown over the past decade, now hosting 71 countries as partners in the initiative. The BRI currently represents a third of the world’s GDP and approximately two-thirds of the world’s entire population.

Similar to BRI, the B3W aims to congregate cross-national and regional cooperation between the countries involved whilst facilitating the implementation of large-scale projects in the developing world. However, unlike China, the G7 has an array of problems that seem to override the overly optimistic assumption of B3W being the alternate stream to the BRI. 

One major contention in the B3W model is the facile assumption that all 7 democracies have an identical policy with respect to China and would therefore react similarly to China’s policies and actions. While the perspective matches the objective of BRI to promote intergovernmental cooperation, the G7 economies are much more polar than the democracies partnered with China. It is rather simplistic to assume that the US and Japan would have a similar stance towards China’s policies, especially when the US has been in a tense trade war with China recently while Japan enjoyed a healthy economic relation with Xi’s regime. It would be a bold statement to conclude that the US and the UK would be more cohesively adjoined towards the B3W relative to the China-Pakistan cooperation towards the BRI. Even when we disregard the years-long partnership between the Asian duo, the newfound initiative would demand more out of the US than the rest of the countries since each country is aware of the tense relations and the underlying desperation that resulted in the B3W program to shape its way in the Summit.

Moreover, the B3W is timed in an era when Europe has seen its history being botched over the past year. Post-Brexit, Europe is exactly the polar opposite of the unified policy-making glorified in the B3W initiate. The European Union (EU), despite US reservations, recently signed an investment deal with China. A symbolic gesture against the role played by former US President Donald J. Trump to bolster the UK’s exit from the Union. As London tumbles into peril, it would rather join hands with China as opposed to the democrat-regime of the US to prevent isolation in the region. Despite US opposition, Germany – Europe’s largest economy – continues to place China as a key market for its Automobile industry. Such a divided partnership holds no threat to the BRI, especially when the partners are highly dependent on China’s market and couldn’t afford an affront to China’s long envisaged initiative.

Even if we assume a unified plan of action shared between the G7 countries, the B3W would fall short in attracting the key developing countries of the region. The main targets of the initiative would naturally be the most promising economies of Asia, namely India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh. However, the BRI has already encapsulated these countries: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIMEC) being two of the core 6 developmental corridors of BRI. 

While both the participatory as well as the targeted democracies would be highly cautious in supporting the B3W over BRI, the newfound initiate lacks the basic tenets of a lasting project let alone standing rival to the likes of BRI. The B3W is aimed to be domestically funded through USAID, EXIM, and other similar programs. However, a project of such complex nature involves investments from diverse funding channels. The BRI, for example, tallies a total volume of roughly USD 4 to 8 trillion. However, the BRI is state-funded and therefore enjoys a variety of funding routes including BRI bond flotation. The B3W, however, simply falls short as up until recently, the large domestic firms and banks in the US have been pushed against by the Biden regime. An accurate example is the recent adjustment of the global corporate tax rate to a minimum of 15% to undercut the power of giants like Google and Amazon. Such strategies would make it impossible for the United States and its G7 counterparts to gain multiple channels of funding compared to the highly leveraged state-backed companies in China.

Furthermore, the B3W’s competitiveness dampens when conditionalities are brought into the picture. On paper, the B3W presents humane conditions including Human Rights preservation, Climate Change, Rule of Law, and Corruption prevention. In reality, however, the targeted countries are riddled with problems in all 4 categories. A straightforward question would be that why would the developing countries, already hard-pressed on funds, invest to improve on the 4 conditions posed by the B3W when they could easily continue to seek benefits from a no-strings-attached funding through BRI?

The B3W, despite being a highly lucrative and prosperous model, is idealistic if presented as a competition to the BRI. Simply because the G7, majorly the United States, elides the ground realities and averts its gaze from the labyrinth of complex relations shared with China. The only good that could be achieved is if the B3W manages to find its own unique identity in the region, separate from BRI in nature and not rivaling the scale of operation. While Biden has remained vocal to assuage the concerns regarding the B3W’s aim to target the trajectory of the BRI, the leaders have remained silent over the detailed operations of the model in the near future. For now, the B3W would await bipartisan approval in the United States as the remaining partners would develop their plan of action. Safe to say, for now, that the B3W won’t hold a candle to the BRI in the long-run but could create problems for the G7 members if it manages to irk China in the Short-run.

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COVID-19: New Dynamics to the World’s Politico-Economic Structure

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How ironic it is that a virus invisible from a naked human eye can manage to topple down the world and its dynamics. Breaking out of CoronaVirus, its spread across the globe and the diversity of consequences faced by the individual states all make it evident how the dynamics of the world could be reversed in months. Starting from the blame games regarding coronavirus to its geostrategic implications and the entire enigma between COVID-19 and politics, COVID-19 and economies have shaken the world. Whether it is the acclaimed super power, struggling powers or third world states or even individuals, the pandemic has unveiled the capability and credibility of all, especially in political and economic domains. Wearing masks in public, avoiding hand shake and maintaining distance from one another have emerged as ‘new normal’ in the social world of interaction.

Since the pandemic has locked its eyes upon the globe, world politics has taken an unfortunate drift. From the opportunities for leaders to abuse power during state of emergency (which is imposed in different states to limit the spread of novel Coronavirus) to the likelihood of rise of far-right nationalists to the emergence of ‘travel bubbles’ between states (such as New Zealand and Australia) and the increased chances of regionalism in post-pandemic world to the new terrorist strategies to gain support and many others, all are result of the pandemic’s impact on the political world, one way or the other. Since the end of WWII, the United States has taken the role of global leadership and after the Cold War, it became more prominent as it was the sole superpower of the world. Talking ideally, pandemics are perceived to bring up global cooperation but in the COVID-19 scenario it has started a whole new set of debates, sparkled nativism versus globalization and the sharp divide in global politics has drifted the focus from overcoming the global pandemic through global response to inward looking policies of leaders.

Covid-19 has impacted every sphere of life, be it social, political, health or economic. The pandemic itself being the result of a globalized world has affected globalization badly. It is the best illustration of the interrelation of politics and economics and how the steps in one sector impact the other in this interdependent, globalized world. Political actions such as restricting travel had drastic economic impacts especially to the countries whose economy is largely dependent on tourism, foreign investment etc. Similarly, economic actions such as limiting foreign products’ access had political implications in the form of sudden unemployment and downturn in living standards of people.

For the first time in history, oil prices became negative when its demand suddenly dropped when industries were shut down almost everywhere. Russia and Saudi Arabia’s oil clash which led to increased oil production by Saudi Arabia further complicated the situation. This unprecedented drop in oil demand and consequently its price would only help in the economic recovery of countries. Covid-19 has impacted three sectors badly. First of all, it affected production as global manufacturing has declined due to decrease in demand. Secondly, it has created supply chain and market disruption. Finally, lockdowns affected local businesses everywhere. Bad impact aside, pandemic has led to the change in demand of products. Instead of investment and foreign trade, states having strong medical and textiles industries have got the opportunity of increasing exports. This is because there are requirements of face masks everywhere to avoid contagion. Need for medical instruments have also increased such as ventilators in developing countries specially. 

The only positive impact of Coronavirus is that it fostered environmental cleanliness. It is said that it can avert a climate emergency but the fact is that, as soon as the lockdown will be eased and businesses will begin returning into functioning, economic growth and prosperity will be prioritized over sustainability and we might even witness, more than ever, carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Novel coronavirus has brought new dynamics to the world’s politico-economic structure. While the world has the opportunity to come close for cooperation and consensus to fight it, we might witness increased regionalism in the post-pandemic world as a cautious measure and alternative where crisis management would be more cooperative and quick. There is a likelihood of the emergence of an international treaty or regime to ban bio-weapons. While the prevalence of political optimism is not assured in the post-pandemic world, we are likely to see the interdependent economic world, as before, to overcome the economic slump and revive the global economy. 

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The free trade vision and its fallacies: The case of the African Continental Free Trade Area

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The notion of free trade consists of the idea of a trade policy where no restrictions will be implemented on imports or exports in the respected countries that have signed such an agreement. Some economists argue that free trade is understood through the idea of the free market being forced through international trade. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a trade area that was founded in 2018, and it is the most ambiguous project in the history of the continent. This project has plenty of potential successes, as well as fallacies. Particular African nations are either in favor or against this project, and it is a matter of time before the world understands if this project will reflect the true notion behind the idea of a free trade policy.

The African Continental Free Trade Area: The European Union Vision in Africa?

The African Continental Free Trade Area was founded in 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. It is believed to be the most prestigious project ever created on the continent. It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and it was signed by 44 countries. Some of the general objectives of this agreement include: The creation of a single economic market, the establishment of a liberalized market, the allowance of free movement of capital and people, diversification of the industrial development in the continent, e.t.c. In some ways, this project can be compared with the European Union and the vision that it represents for a single market and free movement of goods and people. However, due to the size and the geopolitical tensions of the African continent, there are a few obstacles to the achievement of this project. The European Union itself was a project that took more than half a century to be established in its current form, and still, we can see some problems that remain. With that being said, among the 27 member states, there seems to be more or less a coherent economic and political stability. In the case of the African Union, there are far more obstacles, ranging from huge economic differences, political and religious turmoils, and in general a neglected infrastructure; that might not be able to support a mammoth project like this. Any sort of optimism should be also approached with a realistic perspective when it comes to its implementation, which might not be happening anytime soon, certainly not before 2030.

The Relevance of the Free Trade Notion in Africa

It is important to remember that this project deals with the concept of free trade, and free trade itself is something that economists still argue about. Generally speaking, most economists seem to be in favor of free trade. There is an argument that supports the idea of free trade and any kind of reduction in government-induced restrictions on free trade which will be beneficial to economic growth and stability. On the other hand, some economists suggest that the policy of protectionism could be a more lucrative alternative for an economic policy. There is a suggestion that the liberalization of trade will result in an unequal distribution of losses and profit gains while economically dislocating a large number of workers in import-competing sectors.

In the case of the AfCFTA however, the opinion of Ha-Joon Chang, a South Korean economist, might be more relevant. He suggested that if there is going to be any kind of free trade liberalization in the African continent, some prior steps should be taken. For example, the improvement of the institutions in those developing African nations must be achieved to have sustainable economic growth and development. In addition, the idea of demanding from the developing nations to achieve institutional standards that we see in the developed nations such as the U.S or Great Britain, but have never before been achieved in those countries, will only hurt these nations since they might not need or even afford the implementation of these institutions that we see in the West. There is a valid point in the argument because the concept of the AfCFTA might indeed benefit some nations in Africa, but still, it will not develop to its full potential to benefit all 44 countries that have signed the agreement. This is because this project involves countries with different views and needs. Some of them see the AfCFTA as a blessing for the liberalization of the African economy, while other nations are more skeptical about it, thinking that this project will result in African states “biting off, more than they can chew”. This dichotomy is visually striking when we compare some African nations and examine the true reasons why they are in favor or against the AfCFTA.

The African Dichotomy

Rwanda is a small nation in East Africa, having at least 12.5 million people, with a total estimate of its GDP being close to $33.45 billion. A very impressive number, if someone considers the fact that in 1980 its GDP was barely $2.1 billion. It is also the nation that is strongly in favor of the ambitious free trade project in the continent. It is estimated that from 1994 until 2010, Rwanda’s economy grew an average of 6.6%. This is mostly based on the fact that the president of the country, Paul Kagame, led a strong campaign towards the liberalization of the country’s agricultural sector. His reforms allowed the producers to benefit from this liberalization boom while boosting productivity through capital investments. It is clear by now that any sort of project that aims to liberalize the economies of other African nations will be beneficial to Rwanda that aims, as President Paul Kagame mentioned before, to make Rwanda the “Singapore of Africa”.

However, some countries pose some key arguments that need to be addressed for the AfCFTA. There are concerns regarding the massive difference between populations in many African states, as well as the potential of the markets to sustain such a project. With that being said, there is still optimism from some experts that view this project as a win-win situation for Africa since it will allow a trade-led diversification away from Africa’s commodity dependence and focus towards industrial development. On the other hand, this optimism is being taken with a “pinch of salt” from certain African nations, like Nigeria. Nigeria is a nation of at least 205 million people with a total GDP of $1.087 trillion. Nigeria was one of the last nations to sign the agreement, but not before firmly opposing the deal. The strongest argument that Nigeria had against the deal, was the fact that Nigeria could do nothing to undermine the local Nigerian manufactures and entrepreneurs of the country. There was strong domestic opposition to regional trade liberalization and concerns about the government’s ability to implement it effectively. In the same line of thought, Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey did not hide his concerns. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Mr. Dussey stressed the fact that many African countries will need to be firstly well-equipped with the right technical tools to meet the challenges of such an enormous project. He shared his views that some rich nations in the West are not so keen to see the potential industrialization of the African continent: “African development is foremost the responsibility of Africans. We have a problem with work for our youth. It is important that we have strong industries to have work for the young”, said Mr. Dussey for Deutsche Welle.

Can we safely say that the AfCFTA project complies with the economic policy of free trade? Theoretically, it does. The project has the potential to change the socio-economic status of all the countries involved. Even if some nations are more industrialized than others, and can take full advantage of the opportunities for manufactured goods, other nations that might not be so privileged can benefit by linking their economies into regional value chains. This can happen again theoretically if there is a reduction in trade costs and facilitating investments. However, one should not overlook the growing challenges of this project. It is not feasible to suggest a 90% tariff cut, a unified digital payments system, and an African trade observatory dashboard that the AU Commission promises in the next five years. For the simple reason that you cannot have this liberalized economic system when most of the African countries are suffering from socio-political instability. How can a system which in some ways is based on the European Union, work when there is such a striking inequality among African nations? There is a lack of industrial infrastructure to support such a project, and it will be more beneficial to address these regional problems before expanding in a global vision. One day Africa will reach its full potential, but not in the next five years and not in the next ten years. Such an agreement is a blessing, but it needs careful examination before being implemented; otherwise, we will talk about a disaster in the African continent that could potentially bring more inequality and regional tensions.

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