May 4, 2010, 2:43 PM
It looks as though academics, journalists, development workers, political leaders, etc., are all jostling to draw up the most workable solutions to Africa’s problems - disease, disaster, destitution and death - all summed up in one word, “poverty”.
Most Africans have put the responsibility for Africa’s development squarely on the doorsteps of the continent’s leaders.
Africans would like to see a leadership that is development-driven, with a clear agenda of what they want for the continent.
On the regional front, as leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are gathered in Cote D’Ivoire for the 42nd ordinary summit of ECOWAS, which opened yesterday, we would like to remind them that self-serving leadership will never take the continent anywhere.
As they gather, our leaders must understand that the only way forward for the region and the continent, in general, is for them to take responsibility for its progress.
Nobody else is going to do it for Africa and Africans. The African continent and the West African region, in particular, needs greater investment in the continent’s “real economy”, particularly infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture and communications.
While peace and security especially in Mali and Guinea Bissau is expected to top the agenda, education also needs to be given priority, because 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.
Our leaders should take it as a prime challenge to mechanize agriculture across the continent.
The deserts should be irrigated for abundant yields. 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 imports and food aid.
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 forever remain pawns in the global marketplace.
The continent has, no doubt, seen some transformation, and the progress reached so far is proof that concrete achievements are possible.
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.
The lesson for Africans in all of this is that Europe and other parts of the world, as they are today, are not God-made; on the contrary, they are man-made.
If others around the world can succeed, the Black race can do likewise.
Believe it or not, wealth or poverty is a condition of the mind.
“I am working to make sure we don’t only protect the environment, we also improve governance.”