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Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world

Articles and Briefings

Africans on Africa

Source: Global Thinking, The FPC Newsletter

In the wake of the Prime Minister's whistle-stop tour of Africa, we canvassed opinion formers across the continent on what the West should be doing, what Africans should be doing themselves, and what the continent will look like in ten years.

MANUEL DE ARAUJO, President of the Mozambican Association

There is no Western solution or blueprint that will solve African problems,

and, unless both Africans and the West realize that, all efforts to address

them will continue to fail. Peace, democracy and stability are the key for

any attempt to 'save' Africa, but they must be rooted in African realities

and traditions. All societies, no matter how poor, have resources. The

trick is to recognize them and harness them effectively. This calls for a

genuinely new development discourse and practice to be adopted and applied.

Then, and only then, can we expect things in Africa to change for the

better. The West can pour into Africa all the money it has, but conflicts,

war, poverty and AIDS will persist unless the West, and indeed Africa

itself, changes the way it looks at Africa. Africa has the potential to

'take off', but it will only do so if it listens to its own beats and its

own logic. The West has to stop pasting its model onto Africa, open its markets, fund education, technology transfer, research & development projects in Africa, promote an ethical foreign policy, promote incentives to companies investing in Africa, and encourage those governments that are reforming, while isolate the ones promoting conflicts and wars.

DOUNIA LOUDIYI, Founder and CEO, Dounia Projects LLC (Morocco)

A New Africa Paradigm is in order. African will and capacity exist to guide the Continent towards sustainable recovery; the challenge – for Africa and he West – is to join voices out of a mutual respect instead of moral imperative or sheer desperation. Honest, steady and vocal African leadership is crucial. To achieve worthy results, African political, social and business processes - public, corporate and NGO - must be deconstructed to reflect local realities, then reframed to respond to local aspirations. The striving 'help Africa' industry in the West will then need to examine its institutional and individual motivations, and reinvent itself within this New Africa Paradigm.

SALIEM FAKIR, Director, IUCN-South Africa (World Conservation Union)

Afro-pessimism of an internal and external kind feed a vicious cycle of despair and anxiety, contributing to the erosion of hope or any long-term horizon. In its place enters the more corrosive and ominous ethic of short-termism that has gained a sort of nobility in our society. Such endemic negativity can only be impugned from the deep recesses of both the internal and external world consciousness by reminding ourselves of the 'good news stories'. The vast world of rapid and diverse voices brought to the fore by the world's media need to bring out the tiny, marginal, and not so silkily clothed success stories. The message is clear: speak too, and many times, of the 'good news' and do not feed the world a daily diet of nostalgia.

GARY COUSINS, Futurist, AmVia Africa (Pty) Ltd (South Africa)

It is with optimism that I observe the growing use of the mobile phone in Africa. Worldwide, subscriber penetration for mobile services in less developed countries is predicted to triple by 2007. The mobile technology revolution, soon to be followed by the mobile Internet revolution, is one of facilitating freedom; and it's the free access to information and communication that will make for a better Africa in 2010. To achieve this vision, Africa requires open telecom markets and affordable mobile internet technology. Telecom regulation, the banning of the voice-over-internet protocol and an adherence to time and distance billing models will all hold African telecommunications back. With Western support Africa can embrace the mobile Internet. A paradigm shift in communications, banking and societal knowledge will result!

PHILIP EMEAGWALI, Internet Pioneer (Nigeria)

Africa must get on board the Internet and leapfrog from the Agricultural Age to the Information Age. It is knowledge and information that will alleviate poverty in Africa and the West must help Africa develop its intellectual capital, ending the knowledge apartheid that forces its children to eat the crumbs from the dinner table of the information-affluent nations. Since the Internet is the escalator that will store and distribute the knowledge of the 21st century, African schools should be connected to the Net.

KOFFI M. KOUAKOU Director, Timbuktu Ventures, South Africa

For business, Africa and Space remain the last frontiers. Africa is the more accessible, rich in people, fauna and natural resources, but it is plagued by atrocious ills which impede its development. The task is to fast-forward this last business outpost, to make the most of these resources. The possibility of African prosperity by 2010 lies in the nurturing of a home-grown talent which is both efficient and attractive to investors, the encouragement of close trading partnerships with other continents, the establishment of a culture of communication which will improve participative development and the sustainable use, both by Africa and the West, of the continent's bonanza of natural resources.

DR ALI BAHAIJOUB Head of Maghreb Arab Press, London Bureau.

The West would render a great service to Africa if debts were written off or reduced, and aid were channelled directly to finance socio-economic projects. The eradication of corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency should be urged of all African governments receiving foreign aid, as well as the implementation of a strict policy of transparency and accountability in the use of public funds. The West can also help in stimulating the private sector, by building domestic financial markets and institutions, and developing an infrastructure through privatisation, investment and private initiatives. Promoting indigenous entrepreneurship through small and mediums sized businesses would undoubtedly encourage individual achievements and create jobs and opportunities desperately needed in most sub-Saharan states. There is an urgent need for African governments to manage public expenditure efficiently, exploit local wealth wisely and invest the proceeds on strategic social and economic priorities. Self-reliance should be highlighted and recognised as a key element to achieve success.

LUCIENNE ABRAHAMS

How can the West best help Africa? Establish plans for partnerships in trade and investment with milestones and a 20-year vision; think African diversity, interact, talk, find out, research, discover, uncover, invest, invent, innovate; develop a philosophy of global futurism and integrate relationships with Africa into your futuristic objectives. How can Africa best help itself? Understand that particular 'African values' (kleptocracy, economic warlordism) are incompatible with development; plod through the clichés – promote excellence in African governance, the rule of law and build a shared value system through uncompromising peer pressure; build strong policy content and policy alignment; take 'mind-leaps' on challenges of economic growth and social problem solving; build a philosophy of global futurism – get the basics right, grow knowledge, grow people, grow leadership: 'green the Sahara'!. Mix in an African crucible! Simmer for ten years!

DR EDDY MALOKA - Executive Director, The Africa Institute of South Africa

We can be optimistic about Africa's future for three reasons. First, the democratisation wave that erupted in 1989 is transforming the African postcolonial state. Second, Africa's new corps of leaders is determined to address the continent's problems and, with the transformation of the OAU into the African Union and the adoption of the New Africa Initiative, they finally have a framework for tackling the key problems of development, peace and security, democracy and governance, and Africa's global standing. Thirdly, measures initiated by the United Nations since the mid-1980s aimed at reinforcing Africa's economic recovery efforts, have been boosted by a number of developed countries taking steps at a bilateral level to enter into partnership with the African continent.

BEN OKRI

What you want for yourself and your

Children, that you must want for Africa.

Africa's future is the future of the West.

Return the rains that were taken

Centuries ago.

Melt the chains.

Equality in the world's marketplace.

A positive image of Africa must now prevail.

Help Africa's own enlightenment to grow.

End corruption.

Sound infrastructure.

Education, order, health, justice.

Fair re-distribution of wealth.

Transcend tribalism.

Politicians with integrity, vision, and

Ability should be guided to the fore.

Give Africa back whatever is illustrious

In its past.

Help Africa be a vital part,

Not of a new world order,

But of a new universal civilisation.

Let Africa develop according to its own

Intrinsic way, from its own deep roots,

Philosophies, wisdom, with its traditions

Renewed in the new ages.

Let Africa be its best self, and it will

Solve its own problems, and bring its

Unique hidden gifts to the world.

All she needs is to get back on her

Feet, and to feel confident, and respected.

Then she can help others in the unpredictable

Cycles of time to come.

A little love goes a long way.

FATHER MATTHEW KUKAH, Nigerian Human Rights Campaigner

Respect (for want of a better word), not money, is what Africa needs. Respect for the ways things are done, which may be different from Western ways. African leaders have often failed to meet the terms of conditionality tied to aid because they do things differently, but African leaders don't need to mimic the West to develop, they can do it in their own way.

Africans have become cynical, they feel that at the end of the day nothing seems to change. But in the last four or five years a lot has changed for Africa. President Clinton and the Labour Government's attitudes have inspired a lot of confidence, and the climate and the actors within Africa have changed. When Clinton or Blair talk about Africa you get a sense of empathy which didn't exist in the time of Reagan and Thatcher.

CHUKWU-EMEKA CHIKEZIE, African Foundation for Development

The issue of remittances and what remittances could do if redirected to more productive uses is absent from NEPAD. Large amounts of money come into Africa from the diasporas, and it seems strange to me that NEPAD and the African Union have failed to engage in a politics that addresses this key constituency that is actually funding a lot of development, at the household and a community level admittedly, but in many cases that is what's real. If you look at places like Nigeria, whilst people who work for the government have no hesitation in abusing resources, when it comes to the home-town association for example, there are very high levels of integrity associated with it because there's a sense of accountability, there's a sense that this really matters and this is addressing real needs. I think it is very important to find out why the African leadership behind NEPAD won't think strategically about this key source of money for development.

AMOBKA WAMEYO, Action Aid

Is there political will to see NEPAD through? I would say yes, because there's a lot of Western or Northern commitment to NEPAD, and everybody in the West is talking about it. But if you ask the average person on the street in Kenya, in Tanzania, in Uganda, in Malawi, including government representatives, they will not have heard of it. For a document as important as NEPAD, a document that purports to speak for the African continent, to be so obscure among the African population is not acceptable. NEPAD doesn't talk enough about women, it doesn't talk about the issue of children or child soldiers: things that we know are a big concern in Africa. NEPAD might be just the beginning of a process, but a document as big as this, written without consultation and proposed as a way forward for the continent, is, I think, a misanalysis.