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It's Time for Action

Aug 19, 2009, 6:22 AM

There is no shortage of expert opinion on how to lift Africa out of poverty and make it prosperous. Every year, experts converge at many and varied forums across the world to discuss Africa and its myriad problems. It looks as though academics, journalists, development workers, political leaders etc are all jostling to draw up the most workable antidote to Africa's ills - disease, disaster, destitution and death. All of this is summed up in one word - poverty.

Latching onto the poverty theme, the Africa Progressive Panel chaired by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has put the responsibility for Africa's development squarely on the doorsteps of the continent's leaders. The APP would like to see leadership that is development-driven, with a clear agenda of what they want for the continent. Self-serving leadership will never take the continent anywhere.

This has always been the position of this paper; that the only way forward for the continent is for its leadership to take responsibility for its progress. Nobody else is going to do it for Africa and Africans. The APP for instance called for greater investment in the continent's "real economy", particularly infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture and communications. But they left out education; arguably illiteracy or inadequate education is at the root of Africa's woes. A well educated people are not easy to take for a ride. Investment in education should go together with a proportionate investment in agriculture. African leaders should take it as a prime challenge to mechanize agriculture across the continent. The deserts should be irrigated for abundant yield. Apart from that, there is overabundance of arable land on the continent that if well utilized could put an end to the overdependence on food import.

It is now time for Africans to wake up to the realization that as long as they are not able to feed themselves, they will ever remain pawns in the global market place. "Africa has transformed in my lifetime and the progress reached so far is proof that concrete achievements are possible amidst adversity," said Kofi Annan. Africans and their leaders must take this observation to heart and make it their daily guide as they try to find their own rhythm in the world. They have to learn that the struggle for the real emancipation of the continent will have to go with a lot of sacrifice, as against the flight mentality - escape to Europe or North America where living conditions are clearly better.

The lesson for Africans in all of this is that Europe and North America, as they are today, are not God-made; on the contrary, they are man-made. If the Caucasian race can will itself to succeed, the Black race can do likewise. Believe it or not, wealth or poverty is a condition of the mind.