The reality of Africa’s grassroots communities is that they are systematically excluded in development processes. Evidence shows that African economies have been systematically shedding jobs in the Agricultural sector for at least the last three decades. At the same time, growth of industry (manufacturing sector) has stagnated, and in parts has dramatically decreased. Learning to cope with this systematic exclusion, grassroots communities have found creative ways to generate their own incomes – largely through the informal sector and subsistence agriculture.
African Monitor has taken time to understand how the poor currently live and survive, hypothesizing that a better understanding of how communities currently survive will lead to improved understanding of how development actors can work with grassroots communities to strengthen and sustain their livelihoods. We at African Monitor learnt that most of the poor survive by engaging actively and creatively in small income generating activities within the informal sector. They consist of the rural poor primarily engaged in agriculture, the isolated urban poor located in slums and shanty towns, and masses of young people excluded from formal economic activity. Realizing this, the question African Monitor is asking is "how does one design development systems and economies which works for grassroots communities?"From the perspective of grassroots communities with which African Monitor works, the message is clear – the African Moment will be realized when all of Africa’s citizens are able to effectively access the continent’s resources and economic opportunities so that they can independently generate and sustain their own livelihoods. It is clear that grassroots communities are largely not seeking handouts – but rather seek the same opportunities afforded to others, which make it possible to survive and thrive. To address this current urgent need, African Monitor has adopted an agenda to Unlock the African Moment for grassroots communities, by promoting policies, approaches and practices that increase grassroots’ "capability to function"; and those that unlock the grassroots potential to be the drivers of Africa’s economic rejuvenation.