The African we want is achievable. What do you think?
There are about eleven ways in which national and local governments fund their own existence and the delivery of their constitutional duties.
- Income tax. Collection of a slice of employment income and a slice of the profits of self-employed businesses. Typically the top 1% pay 20% to 40%. The top 50% pay 80% to 90%. The bottom 50% pay 0% to 20%.
- Business tax. Collection of a slice of the profits and capital gains of businesses which operate within the country, whether registered or operating as a branch.
- Fees. Collection of fees for using Courts, Hospitals, educational institutions. Fees tend to be consumption based. If volumes drop, lower fees are collected and the revenue collected could fall short of the minimum cash required to run institutions that rely on fees.
- Customs. Charges levied for the passage of goods through national borders.
- Property taxes. Cash collected by government for the execution of property sales, waste collection and services used by virtue of the regional location of property.
- Capital taxes. Receipts for handling the sale or shares, property or other types of assets.
- Pension contributions. Deductions collected from employees as contributions towards their future state pension, which they will receive when the workforce reach a pre-determined retirement age.
- Fuel duties. Cash collected by government as contributions towards tackling pollution and fossil fuel usage.
- Digital taxes. Collection of cash from businesses which benefit from the digital presence of the country’s citizens online.
- Inheritance taxes. Collection of cash when assets pass from parents to children, grandchildren or great grandchildren
- Resource taxes. Collecting a slice of mineral resources extracted by the private sector or government bodies.
In the African we want, tax needs to be collected so that there are funds available to drive the continent forward.
Adult care. Looking after the elderly.
Child social care. Looking after orphans and children with special needs.
Pension payments. Providing a monthly allowance until death to retired adults who contributed a baseline amount of money towards their pension during the working phase of their life. Paying pensions to the dependents of pensioners that die early.
Education. Ensuring that children receive the best level of education required to produce law-abiding, social responsible and financial secure citizens.
Law enforcement. Ensuring criminals are found, convicted, and punished or rehabilitated. In addition to the police, certain agents are also given the power to apply punishments by law including the legal and Human Resources department of companies, charities and government, local authorities and central government departments.
Courts. The courts provide dispute resolution services for individuals, companies, governments and not-for-profit organizations. In addition, they provide sentencing services for either individuals or organizations under prosecution by the Justice department of government.
Immigration. Ensuring only the right kind of people and goods can enter or leave the country.
National security. Protecting the lives of the citizens and foreign visitors.
Public administration. Supporting elected officials and civil servants in carrying out their duties.
Maintenance of public assets – roads, bridges, national defence assets, public buildings, telecommunication assets, the energy grid, national water supply and other assets which cannot be transferred to the private sector.
Business regulation. Protecting consumers, protecting contracts, protecting the capital markets, and ensuring businesses comply with national laws.
Managing the finances
Ensuring there is money to pay for civil servants, capital projects, and interest costs is an art. A good government needs to be competent at revenue collection, picking the best services or projects to spend money on, and sourcing best terms from capital providers – either domestic or foreign investors. Countries have to keep their lenders happy and also find ways to avoid excessive borrowing. Ideally, they also want to ensure there is no risk of default. Failure to manage loan creditors was the pretext for the invasion of Egypt by Britain and the invasion of Morocco by France. African countries that fail to keep their level of borrowing sensible are risking the independence of the country left to their children. They may be forced to sell national assets at below market values to foreigners, which would be stupid. Politicians and civil servants who fail to manage the country’s finances competently should not be tolerated.
In the Africa we want, the government finances need to be excellently managed.
Delivering national security is more complicated than what people usually think. People normally think national security is about the number of soldiers a country has. Delivering national security requires financing, planning, intelligence gathering, spies, control of domestic and global transportation routes, space technology, cyber security, healthcare, engineering, equipment, artificial intelligence and public health management, not just combatants. This is why countries like America and China compete with each other to control ports, sea channels, air space and plant military bases in weak countries.
Weak countries in Africa are a regional and national security risk to their neighbors. They are a future sources of refugees or violence instead of desirable trade partners.
The national system needs to produce women and men who are physically and mentally fit and strong. The pool of potential combatants and national security civil servants must be good in order to have a world class standard of national security services. Politicians and civil servants that don’t think ahead and produce a world class talent pool of civilians are stupid and should not be allowed to acquire or keep power.
Only 1 in 20 people involved in national security are going to be combatants in either the air force, military or navy. 25% will be in the official reserves for all three. 50% will be in general population, unaware that they are on standby for being drafted in times of emergency. Only 25% of the manpower needed for national security will actually be involved in national security through their day job. Of the 25% that are involved daily in national security, only 1 in 5 will be trained combatants. The typical proportion of population needed in the armed forces is 1% on active duty, with another 1% as reservists. A further 2% of the population should be healthy enough to pass recruitment criteria in cases of national emergencies.
In a major war case scenario, 10% to 50% of the active combatants will die. 50% of war combatants who die tend to die from a violent death while the rest die from diseases, illnesses and running out of supplies. For each death of armed forces personnel, 2 civilians usually die. So if 500,000 military personnel die, a country is also typically risking the lives of 1million civilians.
Infectious diseases are a bigger threat to civilian life than wars. The 2020 pandemic has demonstrated that having medical research capability is as important as having a well-staffed national security apparatus.
Civil wars usually result in more casualties than wars with other nations. Civil wars can claim the lives of between 5% and 15% of the population. Examples of the worst civil wars are the Chinese civil war, Korean civil war, Vietnam War, and Congo civil war. The Chinese civil war claimed more than 8 million lives (mostly civilians). The Korean civil war claimed the lives of 1 million military personnel (friendlies and enemies) and 1.1 million civilians, which both added up to 10 to 15% of the population. The Vietnam War claimed 1.5 military lives and 2.5 million civilian lives. You get the point. Beware of anyone that says your country needs a civil war. They are likely to be very foolish and you should ignore them, or any call to action by them, like you would ignore a MAD MAN on the street.
Wars of foreign intervention are a bad idea. Consider the Iraq war, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Thirty Years war, the War of Spanish succession, the First World War, and the 100 years’ war.
In all wars, 0.5% to 15% of the population may die. Most of the casualties are civilians, who die from violence, illness or hunger. Refugees who manage to escape to another country will be disrespected and treated as a nuisance. Some refugees and internal dispersed persons will also fall into the grip of human traffickers.
In the Africa we want, establishing security and peace needs to be a priority, not a secondary agenda item.
Education is immensely important. It affects everything – the level of untapped potential of the general public, the value of wealth not based on natural resources, the pipeline of world class entrepreneurs, the pipeline of world class public administrators, the pipeline of world class national defense public servants and the diversity of cultural content produced from within the country.
A poorly educated population will generate low levels of income and low levels of wealth. A population living in poverty also becomes exposed to certain types of problems which are uniquely suffered in regions of high poverty (1) illegal kidnapping and human trafficking of children (2) disasters relating to climate change (3) insecurity (4) poor quality healthcare facilities and (5) poor quality public goods (poor quality roads, bridges, water supply, emergency services and schools) and life expectancy averages below the global average. Politicians and civil servants that are content with keeping their citizens poorly educated need to be removed from public service quickly.
In the Africa we want, its people and their children need to be empowered and considered valuable.
The most complex civilizations and largest empires have always found a way to manage diversity either by incorporating the most talented people of different cultural backgrounds into public life peaceful or by the use of force. Countries which cannot be kept together peacefully should consider either devolution of powers to constituent nations, constituent regions or a bloodless separation, due to an awareness of the mess that develops if a civil war breaks out.
Poorly educated populations will most likely be told the lie that other ethnic groups are responsible for state failures. The truth is both Christian, Muslim and indigenous faith systems have produced impressive African civilizations in the past. Anyone that calls for a need to harm Christians, harm Muslims or harm someone else who is different in order to have faith based leadership or ethnicity based leadership rather than a meritocracy is lying. Uneducated Africans are unable to spot lies because they are not in possession of facts or historical knowledge from the last 5,000 years. Facts are essential for spotting lies. Knowledge is now publicly available and easily available to the curious, except to the most stupid or closed mined people. Sophisticated societies can therefore live with differences in languages spoken, religious faiths adopted, income inequality, wealth inequality and problems relating to scarce resources.
In the Africa we want, diversity needs to be valued, not used to stoke fears and violence.
A good government must have tactical control of the country’s roads, bridges, airports, air space, ports and sea channels. Air space control, road control and port control is essential for revenue collection, controlling the passage of goods and controlling the entry of foreign threats. Domestic threats such as armed robbers and foreign threats must be managed. A government which fails to do this is a natural security threat to its own people.
Managing culture and the media
A good government will have a minimum level of quality for books, visual, digital, and audio content produced by its citizens, resident businesses or other resident legal entities. There will also be regulations to protect the public from the misuse of cultural and media content. There should be safeguards to ensure that the public are appropriately informed and able to obtain useful and entertaining content without the risk of nefarious manipulation.
Managing Housing and Construction standards
People have to live and work somewhere. They also have to participate in sports and enjoy entertainment somewhere. They have to enjoy fresh air and public spaces somewhere. Running a country involves ensuring that housing and construction standards meet a certain minimum level. That means that developers have to apply to build new structures, while property owners have to prove every year that their assets meet the basic health and safety standards.
Energy needs to be generated, distributed, stored, disposed of and paid for. Good governments manage energy supply over 20-year to 50-year time horizons. Stupid government are reactive.
Managing food and water supply
Nutrition and water supply are important for many obvious reasons – for survival, for a long life, for health, business and public administration. Good governments manage food and water supply over 20-year to 50-year time horizons. Stupid government are reactive. An example is importing most of the food a country eats, letting Lake Chad dry up and dealing with consequences afterwards. If a foreign threat blocks the import of food into a country that imports more than 20 per cent to 50 per cent of its food, what do you expect?
In the Africa we want, the 2,000 types of foods domesticated by Africans will be used to feed its people.
A good government needs to keep its population healthy and have world class health facilities to safeguard its next generation (children), tax payers, to maintain a vibrant community, attract foreign visitors and defend itself.
Places of worship
Africa is a very religious continent. Anyone that doesn’t get that is asking for trouble. Religion and the belief in the after-life began in Africa. While some individuals think Africans should all become atheists, the value of a purpose driven life and a virtuous spirit should not be ignored. Empathy is fundamental to looking after people that are down or out, and necessary to help the vulnerable get re-integrated into society as confident and powerful actors. The freedom to practice faith needs to be accompanied by education so that people don’t fall victim to con artists.
Usage of the environment is balance between current needs and the future needs of your children and grandchildren. The natural resources are mineral resources. Lakes, rivers, seas and oceans provide water for humans, animals, marine life, business, recreation and national security. Mountains drive the water cycle, provide recreational opportunities such as climbing or skiing and building materials such as marble and granite. Forests provide a canopy for the earth from sun rays, clean up carbon emissions, provide wood for human usage and support animal and plant life. Africa provides 17% of the forest cover for the earth.
Protecting cultural assets
Either the government, museums or foundations should protect cultural assets which are central to national ceremonies, the memory of national heroes, or educating future generations.
Head of government
In a republic, the head of government is usually the President and someone elected. The head of government is kept in check by asking to seek approval from the legislature (usual a House of assembly) for new tax rules, spending allocations and declaring war. The role of the government is to create new policies, amend existing policies and implement policies in the interest of the general public.
In a monarchy, the head of government is usually a Prime Minister and the head of the majority party. A party that succeeds in gaining a majority in parliament usually doesn’t need to come back to ask for permission from parliament to change tax collection rules, or spending priorities. Although the country will have a list of decisions that require Parliament’s approval. Most ministers of government departments will have executive powers that enable them to do their jobs.
In the Africa we want, all elected officials with executive powers need to do what’s best for Africans.
Head of state
In a republic the president is usually the head of state. In a monarchy the monarch is the head of state. Most monarchs no longer have any powers around the world due to the first and second world wars. The houses of assemblies and parliaments around the world eroded the powers of monarchs and presidents to ensure that no one individual could plunge either a country or regions of the world into prolonged conflicts by themselves.
Many people who talk about Pan-Africanism live in small countries. I include Ghana, South Africa and Rwanda in that category of countries. The label of a “small country” is not an insult since these three examples have provided many achievements Africans can be proud of. Small countries tend to underestimate the issues associated with uniting the continent with the most linguistic diversity and ethnic diversity on earth. When Africans meet a minimum level of maturity for dealing with foreigners and their own people, then and only then should we consider political unity. Economy arms’ length partnerships should start first.
The value of unpaid work extracted from African slaves by the United States during the trans-Atlantic slave trade was $14 trillion. The value of land emancipated slaves were owed $16.5 trillion but never received it. Only 4% of African slaves trafficked across the Atlantic Ocean went to the 13 colonies of the Unites States. Every person we throw away or fail to protect and nurture has value. Today, many African politicians, African business owners and foreign countries are still looting from Africa. It is stupid to let this continue and not learn ANY lesson from history or common sense.