The convergence of crises, from climate change to economic instability, inequality, poverty and the energy crunch, makes it necessary to call into question the conventional development paradigm based on exploitation of nature, continuous production and consumption and privatization of common resources. While this is imperative in ‘developed’ societies and in fast-growing economies, it is critical for nations ‘on their way’ to development.
The African continent, in particular, needs to seriously examine the successes and failures of other regions of the world with a view to achieving not only economic success, but also human and ecological wellbeing. We believe these goals are not only combinable, but further reinforce each other.
What we need
Our continent needs new ideas, which challenge conventional wisdom in the field of economic policy. We should not become, as has often been the case, a dumping ground of bankrupt theories and approaches developed elsewhere. Our universities, think tanks, private companies, civil society organizations and societies at large are now in a position to produce home-grown research and innovation that, although in a continuous learning relationship with the rest of the world, can respond to the specific challenges and objectives of African peoples, both their current and future generations.
In order to achieve this, we need to consolidate links among scholars, activists, policy makers and likeminded business leaders committed to a profound social and economic transition in our continent. Conventional mainstream actors rely on an arsenal of publications and funds that are used to influence policy choices and public debate. An alternative vision must use the same tools to affirm itself. We need to coordinate efforts, build scientific evidence, speak with a common voice and ultimately bring about change.
WE-Africa: research and action
WE-Africa is an alliance of likeminded scholars and practitioners who share a common concern about the current socio-economic conditions in which we live and are willing to work together to promote a transition to a wellbeing-based economy for Africa. It is an action-research network, which aims to consolidate evidence for change while focusing on building a new economy and promoting alternative development policies. The nexus between research and action is a crucial component of WE-Africa’s work.
The network also endorses the principle of transdisciplinarity, which underlines the importance of combining knowledge from different scientific streams (natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities) as well as from different sources of experience in society at large (outside academia) with a view to tackling the complex problems affecting our civilization. All too often, highly sectoral approaches to development, from how governments and companies are run to how civil society and academia operate, have led to systemic failures in most attempts at achieving sustainability. We believe that a better economy for Africa and the world is only possible through a continuous integration of knowledge, which will allow policy makers, business leaders and civil society activists to approach development from a holistic perspective. In this perspective, human and ecological wellbeing are not just vague ideals that end up being systematically neglected, but they become the cornerstone of a new prosperous economy.
Africa rising? Rather Africans thriving!