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On the Africa Progress Report

May 14, 2013, 9:34 AM

Africa is one of the richest continents in the world, yet the poorest. African countries are trapped in wars and conflicts for one or more reasons.

Sometimes greed is responsible for this situation. At other times, the situation is not far removed from self-perpetuation on the part of political leaders, or poor governance.

Statistics have shown that African countries are prone to wars for reasons pretty similar to those that make them prone to coups.

Once a country is shackled into this situation, development does not seem to matter any longer.

That is why Africa is the epicenter of unwarranted coups and rebellions.

Africa does not have peace, because it is Africa.

Africa does not become rich and developed, because most Africans do not apply their intelligence to make the optimum use of its economic resources.

Our focus today is the Africa Progress Report released last week, which among others revealed that tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom.

Headed by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the report is produced every May by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela.

Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, the report said.

Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors,” Mr Annan told the BBC. It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said.

African countries needed to improve governance and the world’s richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said.

“Transparency is a powerful tool,” he said, adding that the report was urging African leaders to put “accountability centre-stage”.

Mr Annan said African governments needed to insist that local companies became involved in mining deals, and manage them in “such a way that it also creates employment”.

It is, therefore, incumbent on African leaders to spearhead initiatives designed to take the continent out of this unfortunate and unwarranted situation.

Indeed, Africa can do better than this if there is political will and a genuine commitment by leaders.

Africa is poor and prone to all these problems because we tend to underrate the risk factors that control the above-mentioned problems. This is also true for peace and development.

If wars and coups that continue to bedevil the continent can be avoided by observing best practices, promoting human rights and democratic freedoms, then these courses of action should be pursued faithfully and vigorously.

The same course would also point to the attainment of peace and development. The final result will always, however, depend on which way we want to go.

Each man is the architect of his own destiny”
Appius Claudius Caecus