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By Farouk Martins Aresa
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Why does Africa remain poor despite its resources? After independence African countries still depend on foreign companies to explore, excavate and manufacture finished products in 2017! It is true that these are big companies that need special technologies. Yet there are Africans in many fields spread all over the globe that can be enticed into regions where division of labor based on country’s technology is assigned. Europeans argue about trade, we fight on ethnicity.

Ghana should not at this point be depending of the Chinese to mine its gold, Nigeria should not be depending on the British to refine its oil and Congo should not be depending on Americans to refine its diamond. Instead of going it alone or trading everything individually abroad, each African country should be assigned a technology based on the amount of resources it produced, by African skilled experts to be enticed home or other formula deliberated by African Union.

China , Russia and United States have abundant natural resources, yet they buy up Africa’s because ours are cheap compared to their finished products they sell to us. Common sense tells us that we will always have a deficit if we buy more expensive products we are too lazy to make from the cheap raw material we sell. We have a great deal to learn from China because when they were starving and had to institute one child per family, Nigeria was feeding its neighbors.

The recent controversy about exportation of yams from Nigeria points to another mentality of exporting raw materials as yam, cassava and cocoyam while turning around to import starch. In Uganda , the majority of imported starch is used by the pharmaceutical industry (53.6%) followed by paperboard (32.5%), food processing (13.5%) and commercial laundries (0.4%). We have enough raw agricultural products for bread but prefer the taste of refined wheat abroad.

Yams, belonging to the genus Dioscorea, are staple root crops cultivated in many parts of Africa and South East Asia. Their high starch content, ranging from 70% to 80% of the dry weight, and cheap cost have made them potential source of industrial starch which could be explored commercially in the food and pharmaceutical industries – Adebayo & Itiola 1998 .

While Osu Sate revives old biofuel tech; Nigerians scoffed at Sokoto backing (MOU) signed by Oldang International Limited, China’s Halkoff Logistics and Hornson Dev. Ltd, to produce non-fossil energy cars for Nigeria’s entry into the global shift to electric cars from January 2018.

If the government does not create enabling environment, there must be something we could do to make a difference. We all complain about lack of amenities, well equipped laboratories and machineries but we fail to improvise, copy and study and break foreign patent laws. If it is Okrika or Ijebu made, we reject it and ask for original. It simply means it has to be made in U.K or America before it can meet our standard. Some prefer Japanese used card to new cheapo.

We also sap all our energy fighting one another while others spend their time creating arms we can use to fight, thinking about how to make life easier for themselves and the future of their children. Nature blessed Africa with enough population that we can exploit and trade across the Continent but we prefer to trade with others because we appreciate their products more. This is true, even if their products are the same or inferior Chinese plastics turned into anything.

Until we start looking at exploration for manufacturing finished products, our raw materials will never be able to pay off others for their finished products, no matter how much of each natural resources we have. Since independence, all we have been fed with are finished products paid for by abundant and dwindling natural resources. At some point, we will run out while foreign countries load up on our natural resources in addition to theirs.

It is very embarrassing that we echo others in condemning ourselves that nothing good could come out of Africa except misery and asking for handouts as portrayed on foreign televisions. Most news about Africa is negative except when our children prosper in Diaspora. Actually some are relying or claiming that only those children could come back and save Africa.

False, only Africans in Africa can save Africa. Putting so much burden on Africans in Diaspora working against all odd while we fail to grab our future at home is unrealistic, procrastinating and share wishful thinking. While it is true that some of us have seized some opportunities in Diaspora that were not available at home, it is because we have given up on our potentials. Indeed, harsh difficult environment can stimulate inventions by one person for a whole world.

Hubert Ogunde was asked if he could have heightened his dramatic skills more had he gone overseas for training in one of the universities. He replied that it would have changed or killed his instinct. This Hamitic hypothesis that everything that looks great in Africa is brought here by Hamites or Caucasians must be stopped by our own will to contribute to humanity. There are better ways to control our bulging population. We do not have to fight ourselves “to finish”!

Nurse Justina Ejelonu and Dr Ameyo Adadevoh died treating Nigeria first Ebola patient. Nigeria displayed a rare scientific prowess during this outbreak. Though government doctors were on strike in Lagos; aides, senior and private doctors took the bull by the horn; followed quarantine protocol, contact tracing the old fashioned way. From plane passengers to Airport officers with Ebola contact. It showed the rest of the world, we could! Resilient primary healthcare saved us.

Credit must be given to these frontline workers of physicians, nurses and aides that physically restrained Mr. Taylor losing their lives in the process. Lately, this writer realized that there was another hero that confirmed the diagnosis of Ebola in Ede’s Redeem University laboratory in 48 hours. By the time all the world experts rushed to Nigeria, Professor Christian Happi told them to hold their horses because Nigerians knew what to do, and indeed, had confirmed Ebola!

When Professor Happi related this story at Harvard’s conference on Contagion: Exploring Next Modern Epidemics, the house burst into applause. Not only has Prof. Happi trained students from different countries on their method of molecular biochemistry in diagnosis, others rubbed on him claiming joint ventures in solving the next epidemic. Leadership in Arts and Science must come from some of these universities we have in Africa to gain world respect.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Farouk Martins Aresa and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."