The increased cost of living is a big test to African governments' capacity to manage their own affairs. The crisis facing African states is threatening to eat up the core fabric of continental unity. In the recent past, tens of thousands of people across Burkina Faso have marched in protest against the high cost of living. Uganda has witnessed bloody skirmishes in a civil society-organized 'walk to work' protest. In a Synovate survey released in Kenya recently, majority of Kenyans identified the high cost of living as the main problem facing the country.
While instability in oil producing nations has been the best excuse, other factors have accelerated the crisis. For example; reliance on aid has led to socio-political and economic shocks when it is withheld or reduced; ill conceived investment in people skills has led to a people who can not creatively confront societal problems; a skewed international monetary system has destabilized Africa’s economic patterns; and reliance on exotic foods at the expense of indigenous foods has literally kicked out farmers from their jobs.
It is time to spare a moment and reflect on why oil rich countries are confronted with similar challenges of high cost of living. It is not about a country being resource rich - it is about who enjoys the wealth. The high cost of living points at the urgent need to promote a culture of inclusion in wealth creation and enjoyment of wealth. Governments must put their priorities right and not strain their citizens in filling budgetary gaps caused by leaks through corruption and spending on political activities. In a system where the majority are excluded; it takes street protests for the ruling elites to discover that their system has flopped.
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