Africa must take the lead
At Glenglades in Scotland 2005, the G8 nations under the leadership of former Prime minister of Britain, Mr. Blair proposed to increase foreign aid to African countries to the tune of $50 billions in the next decades. The G8 nations pledged to effectuate debt remission for most highly indebted nations in the developing nations. Fourteen nations in African benefitted from the program after completing austere structural programs and having graduated to completion points approved by their creditors and International Monetary Fund (IMF). But many African countries were left behind because they cannot meet the difficult requirements and structural modalities for the program.
The G8 nations at that point mapped out modalities for the proposed foreign aid, and Tony Blair formed an organization of eminent personalities including Bono, President Obasanjo, Geldof, Kofi Annan with Bill Gates as the chairman - to monitor G8 nations in their pursuit of redeeming the pledge.
The G8 has not absolutely fulfilled her pledge to Africa. But the level of Africa’s ills cannot ordinarily be wished away by mere increase in aid support. Aid is not an engine of development, rather its impact is short term and sometimes it can be a barrier to economic development because of the attached strings. Africa needs to trade and industrialize her economy for effective participation on international stage.
First and foremost, the procedural disbursement of aid from government to government does encourage corruption. Financial aid disbursement must be modified to go directly to the poor citizens and wealth creating enterprise and small businesses. As for debt remission, Africa received $540 billion loans between 1970-2002, she paid back $550 billion (i.e. principal with interest inclusive) and she still owned $295 billion as at the end of 2002.
AFRIPOL to this end is canvassing and looking forward to having a situation where the entire Africa‘s foreign debt will be written off unconditionally in order to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving global poverty by 2015. There is no gainsaying that Africa has not paid enough dues even with all the litany of problems confronting the continent.
Beyond aid and debt remission, the West should ask, what does Africa really need from us?
Empowerment to foster Freedom and Liberty:
Africans must live in the system of government that encourages freedom and justice. The respect for fundamental human rights must be instituted and adhered to; an environment that provides self-help, self-improvement and self-innovation must be encouraged. Only freedom can make these things possible and make free enterprise a reality, so that free people can create wealth and advance human dignity.
The West must encourage and support governance that accommodates checks and balances in Africa. This will in turn provide accountability and respect for the populace. What Africa needs mostly include, elimination of dictators and socialist regimes, establishment of virile/free political platform and economy, rule of law and respect for individual rights. All these things do border on fundamental issues which foreign aid alone cannot redress. Until these issues are properly put right, the story of the optimum utilization of these billions of dollars from foreign aid will always remain a mirage.
The responsibility of fighting corruption is too complex and gigantic to be left for one party. Both Africa and West must partake in the fight against corruption. The West must enact banking laws that will fish out bankers that accept laundered money and tainted wealth from corrupt African leaders and bureaucrats. Ill-gotten wealth must be returned to Africa without much ado, while the culprits must be exposed and prosecuted.
The West must work together with African governments on the war against corruption and bribery. Corporations and Transnational companies operating in Africa must not induce politicians and bureaucrats by bribes in their quest for contracts.
“African Union estimates that the continent loses as much as $148 billion a year to corruption. This money is rarely invested in Africa but finds its way into the international banking system and often into western banks. The proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa, (which the African experts group recommended in 2002 should be classified as a ‘crime against humanity’ because of its impact on ordinary people), are often laundered and made respectable by some of the most well known banks in the City of London or the discreet personal bankers of Geneva and Zurich."
Elimination of wars and Promotion of Peace and conflict resolutions:
The West can work with African union in finding solutions to the cessation of conflicts and wars. Wars (especially internal strife) are ubiquitous in the continent. Some African governments and warmongers commit their resources to executing endless wars. The West must frown upon the sell of arms to these parties by checkmating their native’s arms industries.
Fair and Balance Trade:
The West must encourage fair and equitable trade with Africa. The giving of aid must not be the only means to defeat poverty and alleviate quality of life in Africa. The promotion of trade can be possible when concessions are made to infant industries in Africa. The West can improve technological developments by investing in areas of science and technology that can sharpen the technical-know-how in the continent. The West must stand for fair trade at the World trade organization by conscientiously removing agricultural subsidies given to their own agricultural sectors that adversely affect the traffic of commodities from Africa. Only trade can be the panacea to poverty in Africa, this will by and large booster a higher GDP and a decent standard of living.
Africa must embark on the area of trade specialization where she has the greatest comparative advantage. It seems that agriculture is the best possible for Africa. The Western World must take the initiative of reducing trade tariffs and removal of agricultural subsidies. By this, developing nations and poor countries especially in Africa can participate and compete favorably with the West. In practice, free trade must be made to work for every nation. World trade Organization must implement trade policies that are doable, workable and all-inclusive. Foreign aid is good and dandy, though on the contrary, history has always proven that aid has slightly or insignificantly improvement on recipient nations nor ameliorate the well-beings of the fabric of the needy class at the long run. Foreign aid can be given via reduction in prices of medicine, pharmaceutical equipment and of essential commodities needed for survival in the less technological nations. We cannot downplay the role of foreign aid when fully utilized, when it goes to the required projects that ought to impact the needy positively. But Africa core need is beyond these immediate measures.
August 28, 2009