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Africa Must Prepare

May 20, 2009, 7:25 AM

It is great that the 11th Pan African Parliament has opened with concern over Africa's readiness to respond to the Global Financial Crisis. Usually, Africans tend to wait until the Eleventh Hour or even after an event before responding. It is fondly known in some quarters as the 'Fire Brigade Approach'. But that approach seems to be giving way to a proactive approach. This is a welcome departure from the conventional way of doing things.

It is the president of the Pan African Parliament Dr Gertrude I. Mongella who has raised the stake for the continent. In her thinking, Africa should not wait to until the last minute before scrambling around to shake off the dire consequences of the ongoing global financial crisis. She, like every one else, knows that Africa and Africans are not immune to the financial crisis that has gripped the rest of the world. Many African countries, for instance, depend on tourism. So if Europeans who are the usual tourists are cash-strapped, it is only natural that they would do without tourism and concentrate on the basics. And who suffers? It is the tourist destinations which are mostly in Africa. Again, most African countries are highly dependent on the West for all sorts of assistance, ranging from aid, Direct Foreign Investment, to grants, and many others in between. The result is that if their economies are in bad shape, ours will as a matter of course nosedive. It is for this reason that the Mongella clarion call must be taken seriously. "We heard of the G20 putting up mechanisms to salvage themselves but do we expect them to come and help us do our work for us? We cannot say that this is a crisis of the developed world but we have to revisit and seriously debate and come up with recommendations for the African people who will be suffering because of this crisis," she said.

What Dr Mongella is saying is that Africans must break away from the shackles of the dependence syndrome and be self-reliant, though they have to make allowance for the fact that we live in a mutually interdependent world. Only Africans can make Africa what it should be. That is, the initiative for Africa's development has to be taken by Africans themselves. Nobody else is going to do it for us as well as we would like it to be.

The current global financial crisis therefore offers Africans a unique opportunity to prove to the entire world that they have what it takes to look after themselves in the face of imminent danger. Rather than resigning to fate, the search for the African solution to the global financial crisis must begin now in earnest. It is time for Africans to look more inwards for their own economic redemption. The big question now is: How prepared is Africa for the consequence of the economic meltdown?

"Everybody is always in favour of general economy and particular expenditure".

Anthoney Eden