Some Reflections on the Conference on the 2019 democratic process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): New beginnings or false start ?

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Jean-Emmanuel Pondi is Professor of Political Science and International Relations; Head of Department of International Politics, International Relations Institute of Cameroon, IRIC.

I was not able to physically attend this conference on June 6th, 2019 because of my busy schedule, but I was able to watch the published video yesterday. I would like to warmly congratulate Professor Jean-Emmanuel Pondi for the quality of his presentation and the appropriate answers provided for all questions asked. I also congratulate the Diplomatische Akademie Wien for allowing these exchanges here in Vienna, with the hope that they will allow the international and diplomatic community to better understand Africa.

 The video published by the Diplomatische Akademie Wien on the Facebook page is available below:

The video published by the Diplomatische Akademie Wien is available here

The video published by the Diplomatische Akademie Wien is available here.

Posted by Facebook on Thursday, June 6, 2019

 

Many good things have been said during this exchange. I would like to retain three:

1) The place of the DRC in ECCAS, in Africa and in the world

A strong DRC will promote integration and regional cooperation. In Central Africa, there has long been a renewed interest in regional integration, particularly with the decision of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to re-energize their Community, paralyzed for several years, and the signing by their peers of the Treaty establishing the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC).

But, these actions did not produce good results. There is today an inadequate framework for initial cooperation, the non-translation into actions of the political will of the Member States, the predominance of national interests over the Community spirit, the duplication of efforts at the level of Regional Economic Communities (RECs). the economies of some countries are linked tax revenues, inadequate infrastructure especially in the area of communication, but also exogenous factors such as disadvantageous colonial agreements, the heavy burden of external debt, and the implementation of the imposed structural adjustment programs, contributed to the disintegration situation in Central Africa.

1) The value of education in our desire to reform African countries

The Value of Education for African development. Generally, values are ideals and standards that govern human beings. I believe education is a process of bringing about changes in the way we human beings think, feel, and act in accordance with our concept of a good life. But the argument I think Prof Pondi wanted to defend goes beyond that and I fully agree with him.

Education has an emancipatory and liberating value. It is a driver of real social justice, a process of granting every individual their rights to the societal inheritance, a likely instrument of change, and one of the benefits of having the higher levels of it is a change of social value and proper relevance in the societal leadership. Education is also a major catalyst for human development. As Malcolm X once said, “education is an important element in the struggle to help our children and people rediscover their identity and thereby increase self-respect”. It is our passport to Africa’s future.

The worry is that many children in Africa are denied this passport to the future and we all should protest against this by speaking out and taking actions to alleviate the problem in our own capacity by ensuring full and equal opportunities of education for all.
How then to ensure full and equal opportunities of education for all in Africa? Promoting equity in education is essential because over one school-age child in four (23%) in Sub-Saharan Africa has never been to school, or dropped out of school before finishing the primary cycle in this region, where the absolute number of children denied access to school has climbed from 29 million in 2008 to 31 million in 2010 as reported by UNESCO. Access, inclusion, adequacy and quality are leading challenges facing policymakers, universities, and the private sector in Africa.

2) The place of digital transformation in the development of African countries

Africa needs to consider Digital Economy as lever of growth. Digital Technologies have transformed the way we live, and are expected to continue this trend for the unforeseeable future. Internet users reached 3 Billion in 2016, 4 billion in 2018, and 5 billion users are expected in 2020. This transformation results from impacts of inventions and adoption of technologies based on digital disruptions which have formed the third (current) and fourth (coming) industrial revolution.

Digital transformation has vast effects on society at many levels. It allows the automation of business operations resulting in operational efficiencies, such as reduction of transaction costs, which ultimately impacts productivity. Furthermore, it offers new business opportunities, thus affecting employment and entrepreneurship. It also enhances the provision of public services, such as health and education, and it improves the interaction between citizens and their governments. In addition, digital transformation affects human relationships and individual behavior, through facilitating communication and social inclusion. Thus, enhancing digitization and creating digital markets can result in considerable economic and social benefits to African societies and communities, through its potential to increase productivity, accelerate growth, facilitate job creation, and enhance the quality of life for society in general.

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