Andrew Mwenda at PostGlobal

Andrew Mwenda

Kampala, Uganda

Andrew M. Mwenda is an editor at Uganda's Monitor newspaper. He is also a founding member of ACODE, a public policy research think tank in Kampala, Uganda. He was born in Fort Portal, Uganda and became a reporter with Monitor Newspaper in Kampala. In 1999, he won the British Chevening scholarship and did an MSc in Development Studies at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. He is currently a John Knight Fellow at Stanford University. Close.

Andrew Mwenda

Kampala, Uganda

Andrew M. Mwenda is an editor at Uganda's Monitor newspaper. He is also a founding member of ACODE, a public policy research think tank in Kampala, Uganda. more »

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Africa Must Fix Itself (Writer Responds to Readers)

Africa must stop looking outside of the continent for solutions. It needs internal reform before it can benefit from the rest of the world - regardless of what China or anyone else offers.

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All Comments (35)

Otim Michael:

Andrew Mwenda speaks the truth about the institutions and forces that keeps Africa from flourishing.

Get up! Stand up! Stand up for your right! Don’t give up the fight!

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”
Robert F. Kennedy

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Gonzaga Muganwa:

I totaly agree with Mwenda that aid wherever it comes from is not a solution to Africa's problems. But i would say that aid should continue being given for humanitarian reasons. Mwenda expose on the Cotounou Agreement and Agoa prove that we Africans are to blame.
Mwenda by sugesting internal reform is an understatement. Revolution is the way forward.In the current nation-state structure, there is absolutely no incentive that can make the African elite change the status quo to bring about real dev't.
The internal institutional capacity to seize the trade opprtunities is lacking purely because it is not a preriqiusite to holding power.Actually real dev't will be bad news for the ruling elite in Africa since it could empower the masses to demand accountable leaders.
Aid is like the Oil cash which is being mis used in the Gulf of Guinea. What on earth would make a man like Mbasango Nguema or dos Santosto develope his people? A new political order

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hubertus fremerey:

First : Mr.Mwenda is right on this (from his above posting) :
"My argument is that the West, China or anyone else does not owe Africa anything. We should not be looking for the kindness of others for our own development. Instead we should be looking within Africa for the possibilities available to us. External influences work upon internal incoherences or coherences. The ability of any country to benefit from external opportunities depends on its internal dynamics.

Taiwan, S. Korea, Singapore, and now China, India and Vietnam are all developing rapidly within the existing international trading system. Africa is largely retrogressing. The EU and USA are all complaining about cheap Chinese exports which they say are destroying their textile (EU) and leather (for the USA) industries – all despite of the said barriers to trade. "

Second : Bono was speaking of post WW-II help in Germany ("Marshall-Plan"). But Germany, Japan, China, etc. have age old traditions of good government, good education and universities, and of discipline and hard work. This makes most of the difference. Africa has to be modernized.

Third : There are some 50 countries making up Africa. Some are thriving good (Botswana), some are very bad (Simbabwe). We have to see them differently and not tar them all over by the same brush. Question : What makes the difference(s) of the good and the bad African results ?

Fourth : Too many people are speaking of Western subsidies to Western farmers. But this is not convincing. Why can't African people set up a self supporting agrarian industry that is exchanging goods in Africa alone mostly like the EU is trading most of its products among its members ? If African people are starving, this is a problem of African agrarian economies and inconsistencies in its economic structure, not of EU protectionism. And if imported food from Nestle and Unilever and Kelloggs and etc. should be kept out, then African governments should keep them out and not complain about them.

Thus finally : Mr.Mwenda's arguments are right overall, but they need specification of a road map and more detailed analysis of the 50 different cases and causes.

hubertus fremerey:

First : Mr.Mwenda is right on this (from his above posting) :
"My argument is that the West, China or anyone else does not owe Africa anything. We should not be looking for the kindness of others for our own development. Instead we should be looking within Africa for the possibilities available to us. External influences work upon internal incoherences or coherences. The ability of any country to benefit from external opportunities depends on its internal dynamics.

Taiwan, S. Korea, Singapore, and now China, India and Vietnam are all developing rapidly within the existing international trading system. Africa is largely retrogressing. The EU and USA are all complaining about cheap Chinese exports which they say are destroying their textile (EU) and leather (for the USA) industries – all despite of the said barriers to trade. "

Second : Bono was speaking of post WW-II help in Germany ("Marshall-Plan"). But Germany, Japan, China, etc. have age old traditions of good government, good education and universities, and of discipline and hard work. This makes most of the difference. Africa has to be modernized.

Third : There are some 50 countries making up Africa. Some are thriving good (Botswana), some are very bad (Simbabwe). We have to see them differently and not tar them all over by the same brush. Question : What makes the difference(s) of the good and the bad African results ?

Fourth : Too many people are speaking of Western subsidies to Western farmers. But this is not convincing. Why can't African people set up a self supporting agrarian industry that is exchanging goods in Africa alone mostly like the EU is trading most of its products among its members ? If African people are starving, this is a problem of African agrarian economies and inconsistencies in its economic structure, not of EU protectionism. And if imported food from Nestle and Unilever and Kelloggs and etc. should be kept out, then African governments should keep them out and not complain about them.

Thus finally : Mr.Mwenda's arguments are right overall, but they need specification of a road map and more detailed analysis of the 50 different cases and causes.

Hubertus Fremerey:

First : Mr.Mwenda is right on this (from his above posting) :
"My argument is that the West, China or anyone else does not owe Africa anything. We should not be looking for the kindness of others for our own development. Instead we should be looking within Africa for the possibilities available to us. External influences work upon internal incoherences or coherences. The ability of any country to benefit from external opportunities depends on its internal dynamics.

Taiwan, S. Korea, Singapore, and now China, India and Vietnam are all developing rapidly within the existing international trading system. Africa is largely retrogressing. The EU and USA are all complaining about cheap Chinese exports which they say are destroying their textile (EU) and leather (for the USA) industries – all despite of the said barriers to trade. "

Second : Bono was speaking of post WW-II help in Germany ("Marshall-Plan"). But Germany, Japan, China, etc. have age old traditions of good government, good education and universities, and of discipline and hard work. This makes most of the difference. Africa has to be modernized.

Third : There are some 50 countries making up Africa. Some are thriving good (Botswana), some are very bad (Simbabwe). We have to see them differently and not tar them all over by the same brush. Question : What makes the difference(s) of the good and the bad African results ?

Fourth : Too many people are speaking of Western subsidies to Western farmers. But this is not convincing. Why can't African people set up a self supporting agrarian industry that is exchanging goods in Africa alone mostly like the EU is trading most of its products among its members ? If African people are starving, this is a problem of African agrarian economies and inconsistencies in its economic structure, not of EU protectionism. And if imported food from Nestle and Unilever and Kelloggs and etc. should be kept out, then African governments should keep them out and not complain about them.

Thus finally : Mr.Mwenda's arguments are right overall, but they need specification of a road map and more detailed analysis of the 50 different cases and causes.

Hubertus Fremerey:

First : Mr.Mwenda is right on this (from his above posting) :
"My argument is that the West, China or anyone else does not owe Africa anything. We should not be looking for the kindness of others for our own development. Instead we should be looking within Africa for the possibilities available to us. External influences work upon internal incoherences or coherences. The ability of any country to benefit from external opportunities depends on its internal dynamics.

Taiwan, S. Korea, Singapore, and now China, India and Vietnam are all developing rapidly within the existing international trading system. Africa is largely retrogressing. The EU and USA are all complaining about cheap Chinese exports which they say are destroying their textile (EU) and leather (for the USA) industries – all despite of the said barriers to trade. "

Second : Bono was speaking of post WW-II help in Germany ("Marshall-Plan"). But Germany, Japan, China, etc. have age old traditions of good government, good education and universities, and of discipline and hard work. This makes most of the difference. Africa has to be modernized.

Third : There are some 50 countries making up Africa. Some are thriving good (Botswana), some are very bad (Simbabwe). We have to see them differently and not tar them all over by the same brush. Question : What makes the difference(s) of the good and the bad African results ?

Fourth : Too many people are speaking of Western subsidies to Western farmers. But this is not convincing. Why can't African people set up a self supporting agrarian industry that is exchanging goods in Africa alone mostly like the EU is trading most of its products among its members ? If African people are starving, this is a problem of African agrarian economies and inconsistencies in its economic structure, not of EU protectionism. And if imported food from Nestle and Unilever and Kelloggs and etc. should be kept out, then African governments should keep them out and not complain about them.

Thus finally : Mr.Mwenda's arguments are right overall, but they need specification of a road map and more detailed analysis of the 50 different cases and causes.

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Stone Atwine:

While I might not entirely agree with Mr Mwenda, I think he is spot on when he says Africa's internal organizational ability is the continent's biggest undoing. It doesn't really matter how much foreign aid is given to African countries unless corruption and the inability to plan for the said funds are tackled. You could give any amount of money to African states and it will still end up in fixed deposit accounts in Swiss banks instead of taking care of Africa's problems.

Larry Tansinda:

I completely agree with the comments of the author. It is important to note that the new paradigm of events in the African continent should be attempts to create appropriate business partnerships with either industrialized nations or Aid donor organizations. These partnerships in my opinion should create appropriate wealth generating policies and institutions. Today, charity and aid has characterized the African continent making it impossible for governments to clearly separate the private sector functions, law and order and economic development in general.
Without necessarily blaming Aid as a means of fostering poverty and retarding personal initiative, realistic road maps need to be drawn at every level with measurable results through practical matrixes.
Examples of growing economies such as Ghana, Botswana, Nigeria just to name a few, are testimonials of these kinds of positive changes seen to create jobs, hence eradicate poverty and subsequently disease.

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Ofwono Ainea:

Mwenda, that was sure a masterpiece.

Jack Harris:

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PHILBERT ATWENDEZA:


Is Aid to Africa good? Yes it is. Then one wonders why after decades of Africa receiving AID, Africa still faces the same problems. How is this aid being spent? Could it be that this aid is not reaching the people that need it the most? According to economic theory, one would expect that increased expenditure in Africa would lead to increased income which would in turn lead to increased savings and increased investments and the multiplier effect would then come in force to transform Africa to a more modern planet. This economics unfortunately does not fully apply to Africa. This would in a way mean that this AID has little effect on the economies of Africa.
Most People in Africa are poor because they are poor and because they are poor, their mindsets are poor and thus they will remain poor. This might explain why there is alot of brain drain in Africa. Most of the african brains are in the west because they know the influence of their environment.
Is all hope lost for AID to be used in Africa? Well, as mentioned, i believe it might all be about the african leaders charged with the management of this AID. If all these leaders worked with more patriotism and instilled this patriotic culture in their work force till the grass roots, we would see the effect of AID on Africa.

However, i believe Africa can develop on its own without AID. Africa is blessed with vast natural resources and if well put to use with good governance and patriotic leadership, Africa can thus transform itself.
Africa has a challenge to pray for its leaders, to pray that they have wisdom and that they patrotically build systems that will transform their nations. God bless Africa.

Kagaha:

Andrew, You are certainly right to sugest against reliance on aid as avenue for development.
Your point makes me think about Africa, the most unfortunate place where people die of hunger and starvation yet its land remain idle. How can leaders in Africa be motivated, to undertake structural changes that currently frustrate growth. Andrew you really know that much of Uganda's land is a "grave yard" and people have serious cultural attachments which makes land more valuable culturally than economically.

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Charles Ndungu:

Mr.Mwenda raises some important points about Africa and the need to fix some of our institutional and governance issues.

However, a deeper analysis of development should show that Africas’ situation depends not only on what happens inside but also what happens outside the continent. So the issue of subsides to farmers in the West greatly affect the international market for agricultural goods and reduces African farmers incomes.

In addition, trade policies, protectionism, and odious debts provided to African dictators, structural adjustment programs that required cuts in social spending have negatively harmed Africa.

In addition, debates about Foreign Aid never put the issue in the proper perspective. It is but only one vehicle through which Africa can develop. (The Marshall Plan helped Europe get back on its feet after the world war).

Trade is more important than AID. Africa used to control about 6 % of world trade in the 1980s. That proportion has been falling and currently stands at about 3%- due to the internal issues Mr.Mwenda talks about , BUT ALSO due to protectionist policies and subsides in the West. If we were to increase that proportion of trade by just 1%, Africa would have an extra annual income of $70 billion. This is almost three times the proposed doubling of Aid to Africa to $50 by 2010!

Finally, if and where African governments are corrupt (not all are!), foreing assistance can be channeled through other means. Funds can be sent via international development agencies and community organizations.

We know that AID can support an African girl’s education. So lets find a way to get that Aid to do so by cutting out corrupt governments. The problem is not AID it is the process.

James Buchanan:

Can I get an "amen"? Sink or swim, its time the welfare continent took care of itself.

Jo Ann:

I wonder if a great part of the problem for Africa, in all of its several countries, is the growing birth rate in combination with the corruption of governmental entities. It seems to me that, at its core, women have too many children for the countries of Africa to support and therefore destroy their lands in the effort to support those children. I believe the reason women have so many children is based in the patriarchial governments and religions of the countries of Africa, leaving women in poverty, doing the work to try and support their families. Aid to countries of Africa seems to only address the big picture, excluding people from that picture. I suggest that without allowing women to determine the number of children they can support, aid will always be doomed to failure, particularly in combination with the great and seemingly eternal corruption of the governments.

Bernard:

You certainly present strong arguments Mr. Mwenda. There are areas that I agree with you and areas that I do not agree. We agree on what is the fundamental standpoint of this matter. You have succinctly articulated this fundamental standpoint “…we should be looking within Africa for the possibilities available to us. External influences work upon internal incoherencies or coherences. Therefore the ability of any country to benefit from external opportunities depends on its internal dynamics.” There is no question that the internal incoherencies expose Africa to external attacks. Until those internal incoherencies are resolved, Africa remains a weak target for China or the West.

I am not in any way exonerating the African leadership. We all know that they bear a lot of the weight of perpetuating the African problems. However to say that the “The World Bank has offered a helping hand in this tragedy” is completely inaccurate. How has the World Bank helped? The World Bank has proffered to Africa the so called pro-basic education polices that tremendously weakened the African universities. The Bank has argued through these policies and financing that Africa will benefit more if its education policies and resources promote basic education, unfortunately at the expense of higher education.

The 21st century has been proclaimed the knowledge era in which knowledge creation and innovativeness is the center of socio-economic development. How then, in a continent where the majority of the populations are encouraged to acquire basic education, does such a continent generate the intellectual capacity that is necessary for knowledge creation and innovativeness? The Bank has played at the hands of the governments, in that both the Bank and African governments alienated African universities, albeit for different motivations.

The result has been a lack of intellectual capacity to take advantage of the opportunities that you talk about. Africa has been condemned to intellectual infancy by those basic education policies proffered by the World Bank and willingly supported by the African governments who feared the power of educated citizens. Opportunities do not mean much if the capacity to exploit them does not exist. It is necessary to build that capacity. So to say that “We need to stop playing victim and blaming everyone else for our failures but ourselves” ignores the historical facts of the situation. The problems in Africa are very complex and cannot be pinned down easily to a single causal factor. The causes are multifaceted and require multifaceted approach to resolving them. That means laying responsibility at all the multiple sources in a way that is instructive for those who have erred. To let them easily of the hook is not helpful either.

I reiterate then that I am agreeable with you that we should look within Africa for the possibilities available to us. I also emphasize the need to build an endogenous capacity to take advantage of opportunities. At this time that capacity is lacking, opportunity or no opportunity. I thus would not count those opportunities that you mention. They are not opportunities but what some people have referred to as ‘garbage cans’ to divert attention away from the central issues. They only give the impression that something has been done, when in fact nothing has been done. I must say this is a great discussion though. This is the only way that we can unearth the pearls that we need to resolve the African predicament.

Gentry:


Aid to Africa is way too often a total rathole. I'm in my 40's and there has been substantial aid every single year of my life to Africa, with mostly crap for results.

Aid should be tied to good government there firstly, and secondly to results that good government produces.

Aid has been so ongoing, for so long, and has been so much money, that the best solution would be if it were cut off for a few years so that some understanding of the alternative starts to exist there.

While Iraq illustrates that having some civilization for thousands of years is no indication that the people are willing to act in civilized ways, Africa factually buttresses this observation all too well.

I'm quite sick of throwing good money after bad my entire working life at Africa, and quite sick of the constant stream of new ways in which people can behave badly that come from there.

My opinions have nothing to do with race either, in fact one of the things that angers me the most about Africa is the moronic tribalism that goes on. It's beyond stupid and is well into the realm of the culturally criminal, as has been illustrated by the all too many genocidal events that occur there.

Andrew M. Mwenda: Top Commenter

I want to thank everyone for their comments. For those of you who have accused me of intellectual dishonesty, my request is that we should focus the debate on the issues, rather than attempt to shift it to the subjective motivations of the contributors. Otherwise we may degenerate into name calling.

In any case, anyone of you can Google my articles and find them in the Sunday Monitor newspaper of Uganda. Those articles were aimed at a purely Ugandan audience. The views I express in those articles were written long before I ever imagined I would come to Stanford. My views from years ago are similar to those on this interactive forum.

My argument is that the West, China or anyone else does not owe Africa anything. We should not be looking for the kindness of others for our own development. Instead we should be looking within Africa for the possibilities available to us. External influences work upon internal incoherences or coherences. The ability of any country to benefit from external opportunities depends on its internal dynamics.

Taiwan, S. Korea, Singapore, and now China, India and Vietnam are all developing rapidly within the existing international trading system. Africa is largely retrogressing. The EU and USA are all complaining about cheap Chinese exports which they say are destroying their textile (EU) and leather (for the USA) industries – all despite of the said barriers to trade.

I have not suggested that Western aid is good to Africa, or that Chinise aid is bad. My view is that nations pursue their self interest. The West and China are doing what is expected of them. For Africa, the challenge is how to fit itself into the game for the benefit of its people. International trade is not a zero-sum game where one's gain is another's loss. But alas, Africa has failed to take advantage even of the preferential trade arrangements granted to it under the Cotounou Agreement and under AGOA.

Aid is bad as aid - whether it comes from the West or from China or whether it comes with strings attached or not. It changes the incentives of recipients. Instead of developing institutions through which governments can negotiate with the citizens for tax revenues to meet their public expenditure needs, governments look to external patrons for money.

We all know that he who pays the piper calls the tune. Governments that depend on outsiders for revenue will be more inclined to listen to them for the design of policies and for the structure of institutions the country will adopt. This way, aid makes it difficult for recipient nations to evolve policies and institutions that are relevant and sensitive to domestic needs, modes of conduct and beliefs.

Therefore, for Bernard: Africa cannot develop the appropriate policies and institutions when its leaders depend on outsiders for revenue to finance their political survival. Aid is an important political resource that governments use to stay in power by rewarding those who are loyal to them, recruiting new supporters and buying off the opposition.

The mistake people make is to project African leaders as hapless victims of World Bank and IMF manipulations. In fact African leaders are adept and manipulating donors to get money to sustain themselves in power without ever changing their ways. For as long as Africa remains dependant on aid, there will be less incentive to search for internal solutions.

African governments have run down universities. The mismanagement of Africa by Africans has chased the most promising brains out of that continent. The World Bank has offered a helping hand in this tragedy. However, governments in Africa have preferred to finance corrupt militaries, to house rulers in palaces than to invest in universities. We need to stop playing victim and blaming everyone else for our failures but ourselves.

Bernard:


Mr. Mwenda,
The general tone of the responses to your article is that you certainly committed intellectual dishonesty. It is intellectual dishonest because you do not sound like you would be that much misinformed about trade between the West and Africa, but you decided to twist the truth in order to please a certain audience (which makes your readers a little curios). I will not get into the details of intellectual dishonest because they have been articulated by other contributors above.

However, you began an interesting argument that Africa must fix itself, but you did not proceed to explicate what you meant. How should Africa fix itself? What form does that fixing take? Who should do it? There seems to be some meat in the concept if it is explicated fully.

What does it take to conduct and achieve internal reform in Africa? You also hint at the absence of adequate institutional capacity within Africa to initiate and conduct internal reform. Internal reform in Africa will only take place within the bounds of its institutional environment. By institutional environment I mean the symbolic, cultural, regulative and cognitive structures that provide meaning and consistence to social behavior. Institutions provide meaning by giving the appearance of normalcy (and therefore acceptable) in social behavior, the taken-for-granted social behavior - "this is how things are done here".

Now, for Africa, those institutions are found in the West, in the form of the World Bank, and the metropolitan universities. In other words when an African country is making decisions about some development program, the number one question is "How does this fit with the World Bank's guidelines?" The important question is not "How does this fit with the requirements of the country". If the program does not align with the requirements of the World Bank, then it will not be funded.

Certainly the World Bank claims expertise about Africa, which the results of its activities in Africa make questionable. A measure of acceptance of inadequacy of that expertise is the establishment of the poverty reduction strategy papers which foster increased levels of African participation in designing and implementing development programs in Africa.

Such gimmick efforts as the poverty reduction strategy papers do not make genuine institutional environments that reflect African thinking. They only provide local refuge for Western institutions. To test this assertion one only needs to ask what has changed in the outcomes of these 'new institutions'. The tone remains the same. What we need in Africa are African institutions, that is to say we need African symbolic, cultural, regulative and cognitive structures that provide meaning and consistence to social behavior in Africa.

The discounting of African knowledge by the West and subsequently by Africans has made it difficulty to establish legitimate African institutions. The first step to establishing legitimate institutions would be to redefine our universities as legitimate African knowledge centers that understand the African society through learning from it and creating necessary knowledge to guide its evolution. For as long as Africans depend on knowledge created in the West, Africa will be trapped in intellectual infancy that does not provide the critical intellectual capital to resolve the serious problems of poverty, HIV/AIDS, low literacy...

I have only begun to scratch the surface of the argument about Africa fixing itself. I am hoping that more people will contribute to further excavation of this

andrew rullo:

what i know about africa is what i read and hear.
and it is all very confusing,but my feelings are
that africans must first look to themselves,and
thier leaders,and see if they are satisfied with
them before they look to the outside world.

Owusu:

Mr. Mwenda,

You were a bit generous in exonerating the West from the mess that has been created in Africa. Should I assume that because the article was to be published in the West, you were being a bit intellectually dishonest? That has been the attitude of the same leaders you accuse of poor governance. They've continued in the tradition of former slave traders to always betray their continent and their kinsmen in order to gain favor. Don't get me wrong, I am not against the West. I just want us to be truthful.

I will agree with you that the West is not entirely to blame for our plight. They've been generous at times to make up for some of their exploitation. If we weren't vulnerable however, Africans would have been talking about fruitful trade with our friends in the West and not exploitation. We are extremely vulnerable and our so called leaders take us to the slaughter house because they get a few kickbacks to own properties in the West.

We have to fight corruption at home and also develop good policies. We will then earn the respect of our trade partners be it China or the West and we will become full members of the global economic community. The Southeast Asian Tigers earned their respect. India and China are now earning theirs. All of these came about as a result of good economic policies and perhaps good leadership. We need to develop African strategies that will earn the respect of the world. It will take a collective effort - our academics and media will have to be fearless in educating our population. The challenge is that we have large poor rural illiterate populations who are a bit suspicious of the educated and therefore do not listen. The educated must display humility and they will gain credence. As people of faith, we also have to pray for good leadership - leaders who have respect for their poor rural elders and therefore would not exploit them and continue to see them wallow in poverty and disease.

African intellectuals and leaders, where are the homegrown strategies that will earn you international respect? Bring them on!

DR:

The whole "culture" of aid is corrupted and it presents a false notion of west meeting its moral obligations. The end result is, what can we do, we tried our best and will continue to do--for decades?

No it does not work. As Mr. Mwenda pointed, Africa suffers from long and chronic internal mismanagement. It is the "institution stupid" to borrow a word of expression from Bill Clinton.

I think what Africa and the West need is to narrow and specify their goals. First and foremost, codify retail and wholesale open-market economy laws. Second, for assistance purpose, each western country should adopt one or two Africa country and prioritize a list of development of such industries as agriculture, transportation and promote hygiene and setting-up other small scale factories for domestic and export consumption. This way there is some kind of transparency not only on the part of the donor but also on recipient's. Current distribution and mobilization of aid is too vague, inefficient and lacks any specific goal-orientation.

And what makes Africa also so vulnerable is the prevalent of diseases. Most of aid resources are sucked up in treating the sick, most of them dying, than those that are living and deserve a better standard of living.

So, instead of spending most aid on treating the sick, it should be allocated more for prevention.

Africa is a huge continent and its problems are as huge and probably this is the reason why there is no progress in almost anything. Expectations should be lowered and most resources and energy should be focused on narrow goals for solid progress and built upon it as time passes by.


angola:

That's true.Africa has to fix itself.There is no institutional development,no vision.African governments should deal with these projects in an economic and financial perspective,weighing the cost and benefits of them,and they should be able to get the money depending on the capacity that they have to pay in the near future.Financial deals with international institutions like FMI,World Bank and others are the easy way to put in the hands of african governments resources that they don't know how to use.They should be forced to practice transparency when using these funds and demonstrate hability to get profitability from these investments.If this is not hapenning,cut the supply because this is waste,that's somebody's else tax money that is going sometimes to the pocket of these lunatic african leaders.The paternalism and appeasing has to stop,African governments have to realize that they have to compete,that's the global economy,if they owe they need to pay,they need to learn how to evaluate all these offers that come from reach financial institutions , corporations and countries like china, and see if it's in their best interest .They have to learn how to develop their markets,how to promote fairly the participation of the citizens in the economic development and this only can happen if they have GOOD POLICIES.

Bekele:

Mr.Mwenda, your opinion piece is one-sided and overly simplistic. For Africa countries to have any chance of promoting economic growth, it is imperative that value-added commodities have to figure significantly into the export trade equation. See, that's where the evil policies of western countries kick in by imposing prohibitve tariffs on value-added imports from Africa. With such unfair tariffs and huge agricultural subsidies in place, Africa has no fighting chance. None. Zero.

anonymous:

Mr. Mwenda,

A couple of points:

1) If most of the aid to Africa is given as grants, then how in the world did Africa find itself owing up to half a trillion dollars for the 20 year or so period preceding 2004?

2)Talking about trade, would you not acknowledge that the $300 Billion that the U.S., E.U., and Japan jointly spend every year on agricultural subsidies (in addition to their tariff and non-tarrif barriers against African goods) really harm Africa? How can you expect Africa to have scaled up its manufacturing value-added when it faces even higher tarrifs in the west when it tries to add value to its export, e.g. Ghana and the case of manufactured chocolates which were slapped with unbelievably high tarrifs, as opposed to Ghana's raw cocoa exports which did not? Is the west not to blame for keeping Africa down in this regard, i.e. preaching free trade but in reality practicing protectionism of the worst kind?

3) Your point on good governance is well taken, Africa indeed has a lot of work to do. But is it not the same western countries that have installed and supported alot of dictators so long as they have served their interests, case in point Mobutu, Mugabe before 2000, and, yes, surprise surprise! Museveni in your country Uganda? What about the western support of the regimes in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt?

4) What about the devastating role of the Brettonwoods Institutions in dictating flawed economic policy to African countries? Is it not true that western aid has been accompanied by neo-liberal policies being shoved down African throats? Today the same policies are disguised under names such as HIPC or Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility...

5) Are we sure that the Gleneagles promises will in fact be carried out? The west has been known to make grand promises with little action following so if I were you I would be careful about giving them credit for what they SAY unless they actually DELIVER! Have you studied the conditionalities that would accompany that particular debt relief exercise? Also, are you sure about your interest rate figure? Where did you get that from? How come Africa ended up owing so much in interest in its debt crisis?

Witch Docter:

Ah-tik-tok-chook!

Sanag State, Somalia:

"More aid to Africa, whether it comes from the West or China, should not give us too much hope because, at root, foreign aid is an ineffective instrument that distorts recipients' incentives for the worse. Aid is given with the assumption that its recipients lack the necessary resource base to generate tax revenue to meet their public expenditure needs. Yet in many African countries, the problem of insufficient tax revenue is caused by poor tax administration, bad policies, and institutions that undermine growth. Then, once taxes come in, there is poor prioritization of expenditures."

My last comment refers to this paragraph.

Sanag state, Somalia:

The only method African leaders and states should apply in its pursuit to compete with the rest of the world economically is to have bilateral or regional trade agreements within the continent. African nations have both the human and natural resources to be very productive and prosperous. I agree with the author that our government should not take or accept loan or grant, for that would facilitate entrance into their capital market by giant MNCs. It also restricts the loan recipient nation(s) the freedom to trade with another country. As we know, giant multinational corporations of the west employ economics of scale that eliminates competition, and it is hard for us Africans to compete with these giant corporations who have been in business for thousands of years. Let us learn from the model China and Vietnam use and invite more investments inro our respective countries that take into account 50% of local ownership, employment, and procurement.

Anonymous:

OK, the whites teache Africans to fight for their political right before feeding themselves. During these fighting, they pick good candidates to serve the interet of the west. They get the resources in the continent, and they make the African countries paying loan interests to them forever.
Chinese are there for the resources, they are not hiding this intention. But at the same time, at least they are building infrastructures which can enable the Africans to stand up on their own. They build roads, schools, hospitals, and train the Africans in production activities, not FIGHTing for democracy.
Any difference? The Chinese think the most important part of human right is to survive first. All talking about democracy when people are starving to death is Bu..sh...

Madula Umlamgata:

Whites were removed from power in Africa to reduce the black population through starvation. The white farmers produced an unwanted black population explosion with their increased, surplus food supply. These genes could not be allowed to excape Africa into the world gene pool.

Using the media, the bankers convinced the black natives that the whites were devils that "exploited" black labor to become rich.

Worked into a frenzy,the natives murdered the white farmers and their entire families. Now, the blacks are starving to death. This was planned and was no accident.

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