Africa Must Produce or Perish

Linked with Philip Emeagwali – Nigeria and USA;

Published on the Liberian Dialogue, by Philip Emeagwali, January 15, 2009.

… Africa will perish if it continues to consume what it does not produce, and produce what it does not consume. The result will be a depressing cycle of increasing consumption, decreasing production, and increasing poverty. We are missing a golden opportunity by not using the trillion dollars earned by exporting natural resources to break Africa ’s cycle of poverty.

We are at a crossroads where one signpost reads “Produce” and another reads “Perish.” We risk becoming like the driver who stops at an intersection and asks a pedestrian, “Where does this road lead?”

And the pedestrian replies, “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” the driver replies.


“Then it obviously doesn’t matter which road you take!” replies the pedestrian.

If we adopt the same attitude as the driver, Africa will have lost its chance to “choose” its future.

For decades, power in post-colonial Africa rested in the hands of those with guns, not those with brains. We were not always at war with our neighbors, but we were always at war with poverty. And we spent more on guns than on books and bread.

Africa ’s choice is clear: produce or perish. However, it is important that we do not blindly choose the lesser of two evils – producing what we cannot consume or consuming what we cannot produce. We can avoid this. My wish is that by the end of the 21st century high-end products in New York City will sport the label: “Made in Africa .”

We cannot look forward to our future until we learn from our past. Five thousand years of recorded history reveal that technology was ancient Africa ’s gift to the modern world. Forty and a half centuries ago, geometers in Africa ’s Nile Valley region designed the Great Pyramid of Giza, the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. That man-made mountain remains the largest stone building on Earth. It is an icon of engineering, and testifies that Africa was once the world’s most technologically advanced region.

It is absolutely imperative that Africa regain its technological prominence, which will enable it to produce what the world can consume. When we do that, Africa will finally be eating the fruits of its own labor. When Africa has regained its technological prominence, the world’s leaders will seek it out. And, like a rainforest renewed, Africa will flourish again. (full text).

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