07 Seven shifts for an Abundant Africa

Successful movements drive change across what society expects, what the law allows and what the economy incentivises.

We seek to bring change to social norms, legislation and its enforcement, and the flows of money across our continent. We believe that seven strategic shifts are needed to take Africa closer to the reality of shalom.

We recognise the need for multiple actors to play their part in the shifts towards an Abundant Africa. The primary audience for this report is the church, and so we speak firstly to ourselves. The ideas we have suggested are intended for both Christian leaders serving in secular jobs, such as business or education, as well as the church’s many institutional forms (local churches, movements, national and continental alliances, NGOs, and many more). We have, however, also gone further, and made recommendations for national governments, and for the AU, as representative civil
structures outside the church that are directly responsible to us as citizens. In the future we recognise the need to more deeply engage other stakeholders, such as business and civil society, in seeing an Abundant African economy come to life.

The United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), outlined in its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the AU’s Agenda 2063 together form a global and a continental strategy for sustainable development, as well as spaces for governments and churches to act. Both agendas are implemented through National Development Plans. SDG Councils63 are multi-stakeholder bodies that oversee the implementation of sustainable development plans; the church can engage with these councils to influence national and regional change.

We consulted widely when generating these ideas, but, as a result of circumstances, access and necessity, ultimately leaned more heavily on input from thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds and movements than on genuine grassroots consultations. These ideas are therefore not an exhaustive list, but the first step in a collaborative journey of discerning and following God’s voice together. Some of the proposed ideas are new, but many draw on learning and practices from around the world. Some are initial changes while others will take longer to become reality, and some need further detailed analysis. No one actor can do them all, but if they can start conversations, ignite partnerships and stimulate action we are certain that the experience of journeying together will sharpen our thinking and strengthen our best practice.

1. From valuing growth to valuing wellbeing
How will we know shalom when we see it? We need to start with the end in mind: what gets measured gets implemented. We need measures that look beyond GDP to embody our values of the wellbeing of communities and our natural world.

2. From dependence to innovation
Our broken economic and education systems tell stories of dependence and lost opportunities. They fail our young people, our greatest source of creativity and energy. We long for innovation founded in ubuntu relationships – built on our diversity, committed to community.

3. From extraction to caring for creation
Our land carries our birth and our culture, our history of extraction from the ground and from the people who live and depend on it. We seek to restore the wholeness of people and the health of the earth.

4. From sprawling slums to lifegiving cities
Most of our cities have not yet been built. Those that have are divided between the mega-rich and the destitute. We look to the new Jerusalem as the model for the cities we want to raise and restore: cities that are inclusive, creative and sustainable.

5. From decisions by centralised elites to decisions by active communities

Africa’s future will be determined by the agency of each of her citizens. We are in a season of disruption. This is an opportunity to equip an active citizenry to engage in decision making, to lay claim to the stories of their own lives.

6. From self-interest to ethical leadership
The greatest in the kingdom of God is the servant. We long for leaders and citizens characterised by integrity and accountability. We seek to expose and undo the legacy of corruption and build a culture of openness at every level.

7. From division to connection
Conflict and discord threaten every shift that we seek. But ubuntu is a powerful force. We seek healing for the past. We look to the future, to a bigger ‘us’, to a larger African identity.