Founded on democracy, the nation state seems to be falling apart which brings the questions of possible alternative system replacements. We either go the one world government or officially re-draw the world map, breaking up, patching up, and merging territories.
There are two forces that keep pushing the nation state forward: Greed and Anger. Greedy politicians ensure status quo remains the same so that they can do their dealings in peace and Angry people who are left with no choice and are forced to push limits just to survive.
These two forces seem to feed off each other like a pyramid. As more politicians get to the top, people on the ground are taxed even more to support them. As long as the politicians greed is stronger than the people’s anger, it will always be a loosing game.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Africa the worst in the realms of trade, economic growth, employment, public revenue collection, security, and, critically, democratic governance. According to the World Bank, for the first time in 25 years, Africa slid into an economic contraction of up to 5.1 percent in 2020 alone. The resource-rich economies of Nigeria, Angola, and Cameroon in sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, were even worst hit due to attendant shocks in the international oil market. Africa’s exports, which depend over 80 percent on global markets—especially in the worst-hit economies in North America, Western Europe, and Asia—have plummeted. This has further compounded increasing income inequalities and unemployment on the continent, thereby pushing millions of people in the region deeper into poverty.
Fundamentally, the coronavirus pandemic has proven to be a boon for authoritarianism in Africa, as democratic governance wilts under the weight of governments’ embrace and abuse of emergency powers to muzzle democratic institutions and processes, undertake a convenient clamp down on civil liberties, and aggressively impose limitations on political space for their citizens.
The duality of contracting economies and increased authoritarianism have reversed the positive economic trajectory of Africa’s growth decade as well as sullied the democratic dividends of the post-Cold War period.
The apparent lack of global leadership in the current pandemic is, of course, partly a result of America’s initial COVID-19 denialism and the isolationist approach favored by Donald Trump, but is also due to the failure to mobilize robust and coordinated international response in the wake of nationalism and protectionism as well as the utter unpreparedness of many countries to deal with the scale and scope of the pandemic.
This lack of leadership has exposed the tragedy of inequalities in the developing world. Consequently, as many countries in western and central Europe, North America, and parts of the Asia-Pacific region begin to enter the recovery phase, Africa is still wallowing in the miasma of economic, social, and political ruins without either the privilege afforded by the social safety-nets of the rich countries or a local capacity to produce vaccines or facilities needed to adequately care for the sick and the vulnerable.
On the one hand, Africa lags behind in mass testing and vaccination primarily due to a dearth in regional capacities and also because of the disruption of global supply chains. As of late June 2021, only about two doses of vaccines have been administered per 100 people, compared with an average of 68 doses per 100 people in high-income countries. Less than 1 percent of Africa’s total population has been fully vaccinated. Tanzania, Burundi, and Eritrea have yet to receive any vaccines; others have barely started their vaccination campaigns.
Vaccine geopolitics in the form of vaccine nationalism and geopolitical competition among contending world powers like the United States, the EU, China, and Russia—each all keen on shaping the war against COVID-19 narrative—have further impeded vaccine access and distribution, thereby denying the world a unified global approach to managing the pandemic. All this helps explain the widespread African perception of vaccine apartheid by the global north against the global south.
On the other hand, the economies of Africa are crumbling under the weight of massive foreign debt, partly exacerbated by increased public expenditure and a revenue slump as a result of the onset and consequences of the pandemic. Africa is thus staring at a potential debt crisis. In November 2020 for instance, Zambia—one of Africa’s most heavily indebted countries—defaulted on servicing its eurobond debt whilst others such as Namibia, Angola, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Nigeria were badly exposed to fiscal pressures, making the necessity of debt restructuring an emerging urgency.
Africa’s recovery, together with that of the rest of the developing world, is thus worsened by a conspicuous absence of global political leadership on vaccine access and the economic and fiscal stabilization of middle-income and low-income economies. The increased mass vaccination and economic stimulus packages that are allowing for the reopening of the economies of United States, the European Union, China, Japan, and so on, are limited to the world’s rich and powerful countries. Much of the developing world is thus still in the containment phase of the pandemic while developed countries are already in the early phase of recovery.
It is crumbling because the people are entertaining leaders’ selfish interests. Their replacements can only be triggered by the people coming together for the good of their nation.