Pan-European Fiscal Crisis and Africa

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013

Pan-European Fiscal Crisis and Africa

The prevailing pan-European public debt, and more broadly the European fiscal crisis, has many unintended consequences. Predictably, over the next decade or so, the G7 club of countries will face economic decline, and steadily lose their economic domination of the globe, as well as their geo-political stature, influence, and control over the institutions of governance such as the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank.

This gradual but inevitable decline will entail numerous complex internal socio-political consequences, most of them socially painful, politically disruptive and financially uncertain. Systemically, this will test Europe’s socio-political and intellectual limits. It will challenge many of Europeans’ cherished cultural and expected living standards. All said and done, the Europeans (with the exception of Germany) have to get used to much lower living standards, work much harder, save more, and learn to live within their means. The age of debt-financing current generation’s living standards, hoping that future generations will take care of the fiscal legacy, has finally ended. The “future” is upon the Europeans now!

Without a doubt, global growth will suffer considerably, and with it Africa’s expected growth will decline accordingly. Meanwhile, through trade, FDI, migrant remittances and ODA, the global financial and economic crisis does have knock-on effects on the continent.  Africa is bound to be saddled with the implications of the short term fall in export earnings, decline in number of tourists, overseas development aid levels, the loss of value of national currencies, and remittances from migrant workers. Already a number of African countries are under severe stress, politically, and socio-economically.


Whilst Africa has to diversify away from its historic European partners, the socio-economic circumstances in Europe will help reverse Africa’s well-established and much acknowledged ‘brain drain’. Over the past fifty years, as much as 40% of Africa’s human resources capital was drained out of the continent- mostly to the x-colonial capital cities. Together with approximately 60% of the continent’s savings, the loss of skilled human capital was detrimental to the continent’s developmental ambitions.  Currently, and in the near future, however, scores of young, educated and skillful Africans will increasingly find the European business environment unattractive and unpromising in terms of its prospects. For such young professionals, returning home will certainly receive serious considerations for the first time in many decades.

This provides many African countries with a real opportunity to focus on the evident developmental requirements, knowing that the necessary human capital is available. There is also a critical, and potentially explosive factor, that needs consideration and urgent attention by the political leadership in African countries. The return of  professionals requires a socio-political environment that admits their meaningful participation in the planning, implementation, and the governance of the developmental process. Chances are that there needs to be a transformation of the domestic political culture with regard to transparency, accountability, and clean governance. If such transformation is too slow or too cosmetic, the clash of “reality” and “expectations” could become highly disruptive.


In effect, a profound mindset shift, underpinned by a new set of moral and ethical value system, is required. Not only should the Europeans abandon their hegemonic practices, exploitative objectives, and historic maneuverings, but also the “African leaders” need to recognize the unsustainability and destructive consequences of their mode of governance. The culture of governance in Africa needs as much transformation as in Europe. The return of African professional to the continent may well act as the catalyst to effect such governance revolution. Of course, in a number of African countries much has been achieved in improving good governance, yet a great deal still to be done.


In response to the prevailing global economic and financial circumstance, a critical responsibility rests with the leaders within Africa- political, social and intellectual- to respond to the situation with a sense of empowerment, integrity and commitment. There is much that can be achieved within the continent, and that should be pursued with the urgency that the conditions demand. The fact that both human and financial capital is increasingly easier to access, Africa needs to seize the opportunity to accelerate its developmental momentum which is already at play in many countries and regions on the continent. The task ahead is to embark upon some key initiatives that would stimulate industrial activity, food production, and social cohesion on the continent. The return of Africa’s skilled and experienced human resources can only benefit this process.