New Malawian Political Party formed in South Africa

A new Malawian Political Party has been formed in South Africa.

Confederate-letterThe Party, appropriately called Confederate Action Party of Malawi (CAPM) was founded by businessman and political activist Mr Joshua Chisa Mbele, and promises to do away with the old politics of corruption and mediocrity which has been largely responsible for many of Malawi’s recent woes and which has plagued our politics and economy. Targeting the 2019 general election, the party promises to revolutionise the way politics and economic development is conducted in Malawi and Southern Africa in general. The Party’s flag is symptomatic of this revolutionary spirit, in that:

Gold represents Industrialization of the Economy. Manufacturing. Information Technology. Financial Services. Service Industries & Tourism.

Green represents the quest to revamp Agriculture Sector. Commercialization of Farming. Mechanization of Farming. Creation of modern farming community. Resettlement of our communities.

White stands for Transparency in everything. Market Economy is better served by an open and transparent government. Triumph of the Rule of Law.

The Eagle tells of the Resolve to Defend the Building of the Nation with precision, using all the resources available fight and defeat the dark forces who may attempt to thwart the efforts to build a better Malawi for narrow selfish reasons.

While the party’s manifesto has not yet been drafted, among the ideas adopted by the party are a few which I think are very interesting. According to the party’s Facebook page, CAPM will:

(1) Abolish the Presidency in favour of:

“.. Collective Leadership at Federal Council Level and Bicameral Legislative Assembly.
State Power back to the people.”

(2) Adopt Federalism

“Not based on tribe but economic factors. Five Federal Districts will emerge. Many leaders will emerge.”

(3) To Revamp the economy with industrialisation and commercial agriculture.

“We must build a modern society. Education and Skills Development. Liberalization of the Economy in its fullest sense. Malawi to be the Switzerland of Africa.”

What is curious is that unlike previous patterns, this Party forms a whole 5 years before the next election. This is itself in sharp contrast to the usual practice, when political parties begin to pop-up or reassert themselves only close to the election.

I can only hope that discerning and enlightened Malawians all over the world will embrace this initiative and support this new political party because from what I know, and can see, even if CAPM achieves one-third of its aims, Malawi will not be the same.



Global 100 Voices: No 5


My next guest describes himself as the proprietor of a recently opened media company(AGM Media).The company offers photography, audio and video services, amongst other services. He’s also undertaking International studies with the Open University. Mr MKOTAMA KATENGA-KAUNDA, thank you for doing the 100 Voices Interview!

  1. As a Malawian, how important is Malawi’s Socio-Economic stability to you and your family?

It is important because as a human being, one always aspires to have a better life for one self and his/her family. Socio-economic stability gives a better chance for someone with a dream to have a better quality life in a developing country.

    2. After nearly 50 years since independence, what visible progress do you think Malawi has made since independence, and in your view, what pressing challenges remain? In view of those challenges, what do you think is the role of government and the people in tackling those challenges?

It is really difficult to pinpoint any visible progress Malawi has made since independence. It is the same scenario of ‘the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer’. It is sad that Malawi has not developed as it should have because the majority of visible structures in our country were built by Kamuzu Banda about twenty-plus years ago. It has been 19 years since we became a democratic country and not much has really changed in Malawi. In my view, I fail to register any visible progress that Malawi has made since independence because we have destroyed the very foundation which our nation once built (electricity and water supply is erratic, refuse collection is non-existent, our postal services are inefficient, Malawian-owned industries have been sold off etc). The most pressing challenge is ‘corruption’ at all levels of society in Malawi. For things to change, the government, starting with the executive, need to be exemplary by being tough on corruption at all levels in society. If the government is serious about such issues, then it is inevitable that citizens will follow suit.

  3. As someone who lived(or has lived) outside Malawi for some time, and has been exposed to modern and progressive ideas, what symbols of development in the foreign country in which you lived have had the greatest impact on you, and why?

I lived in the UK for 12 years and there are a lot of symbols of development in the UK that have had the greatest impact on me. My view is that, anybody that works hard in the UK has the chance to live life above the poverty line. Their social welfare is admirable in that it manages to help those citizens who are unemployed, homeless, sick and disabled etc. The roads, universities, transnational corporations, manufacturing industries and many more are all symbols of development that are prevalent in the UK. These symbols of development have had the greatest impact on me simply because my country of origin, Malawi, is lagging behind as one of the poorest countries in the world.

   4. What lessons do you think Malawians and the Malawian leadership can learn from those ideas?

As this is a globalised world, a lot of Malawians have travelled and are still travelling. When we travel, it broadens our horizons and whatever we see in developed countries, always inspires us that we can also develop to the level of western countries. The lesson to be learnt is that as a nation, we should be resilient and ambitious with our developmental plans, because it is possible for third world nations to become developed nations. We should study and analyse those countries that have developed and try to figure out where we have gone wrong to strengthen our weaknesses on our path to development.

   5. When you last returned to Malawi, what struck you the most as the greatest sign of improvement or development since the last time you left?

I think the most clear sign of improvement that struck me was the number of better cars in Malawi.

   6. What struck you the most as the biggest sign of stagnation or regression?

The biggest sign of stagnation was corruption because everywhere i went, people preferred to do things through the back door.

frgl7. Malawians will be going to the polls in 2014, to elect a new president. In your view what kind of leader does Malawi NEED, considering the country’s current challenges? And specifically, how should that leader approach the top job in terms of creating sustainable development and foreign reducing aid dependency?

The biggest challenge Malawi has, is that we are dependent on foreign exchange for economic stability. As we approach the elections, Malawi needs an innovative leader that’s ready to initiate an ambitious blueprint to try to become self-sufficient. Malawi needs a frugal, transparent and incorruptible leader who is willing to make sacrifices for the future of our nation. This means that we need to utilise all our natural resources in a meaningful way where we get full returns that in turn spark developmental pathways for our nation.

   8. As you know, Tobacco is Malawi’s biggest source of export revenue. Looking at the problems that have plagued the tobacco industry in recent times, what alternatives do you think Malawi has besides Tobacco, and why are they viable alternatives?

Malawi’s alternatives to acquiring foreign revenue apart from Tobacco, is through natural resources. We have uranium in the northern region which is a sought after mineral in nuclear energy physics. Lake Malawi is rumoured to have gas and oil deposits underneath its seabed, which is believed to have caused tension between Malawi and Tanzania. However if the prospect is true, the returns from natural resources are always rewarding to countries with natural resources.

   9. Considering our troubled history with donors and funders such as the IMF and World Bank, most recently when  Bingu Wa Mutharika was president, how do you see Malawi progressing from this relationship in view of the criticisms these organisations have received in the media across the world?

The only way to progress from such a relationship is by becoming self-sufficient. Countries like Malawi are in a vicious cycle where they have become used to being dependants of the IMF and the World Bank. To come out of the reach of the IMF or the World Bank, Malawi needs to utilise its natural resources by channelling monetary gains into improving our social welfare.

   10. We know that Malawi has some precious minerals, including uranium, possibly oil and other natural resources. How do you think the present government is doing regarding managing Malawi’s natural resources?

The present government’s management of natural resources is poor. Rumours were rife in the previous administration that they signed a weak contract with Paladin an Australian company that was given concessions to mine uranium in Malawi. The current government has also kept the nation in the dark about the contract and no one really knows whether Malawi is gaining from it or not.

   11. In your view, can the government do better to manage natural resources? If so, how can it do better?

Yes, the government can do better by becoming transparent in its dealings with foreign companies that are given concessions to extract minerals from Malawi. Contracts should be negotiated for the benefit of the nation and not for just a select elite few. There is need for our government to realise that natural resources are for the benefit of all the people of the country, and not just for the leaders in the executive.

12. What is your answer to increasing transparency and eradicating corruption which is plaguing most governments across Africa?

The answer is to have a strong constitution without any loopholes, a constitution that punishes anyone in contempt of the law. There is also a need to separate the police from the state so they can work independently without government interferences.

   13. Any famous words?

Running a government is very serious business – Bakili Muluzi

 100 Voices is a collection of reflections, views, opinions, ideas and thoughts by Malawians across the world, regarding the past, present and future of Malawi.

The relationship between Human Safety and security (Physical security) and Economic Development


When I was searching for articles that had been written and other research undertaken about the above topic, I hit two small obstacles:-
1. The first is that it seems Google prefers to highlight material on ‘food security‘ or ‘ social security’ and economic growth more than that on ‘human safety and public security’ (or physical security) and economic growth. So I had to sift through quite a lot of stuff to get the references below… which wasn’t much fun!
2. Secondly, there seems to be two major and opposing schools of thought within the research on the issue of safety and economic development. The first group believes that when seeking to improve physical security or public safety of a population, more emphasis should be placed on how the peoples’ lives can be improved, and not on economic outcomes or developmental agendas. And the second group seems to think that economic progress or development is inexplicably linked to human safety and security. That it is impossible to achieve economic development without physical security or public safety, which if you think about it, sounds like a sensible enough hypothesis. Both groups may be right.

However, after considering what has been written, I’m more inclined to side with the second group, in that while the first group has a point in stating that Human Security must be addressed for security’s sake alone, in most parts of Africa, we are quite interested in the security of our people for more than just one reason. And that may be because we have experienced first hand the devastation insufficient security can have (Kidnappings; and the fear it causes, the effect it has on tourism –Somalia, Kenya etc; underinvestment — ask any well seasoned investor what ‘political stability’ means;). In fact if some of the articles below are to go by, I suspect it is truly the case that Economic Development of any serious sort is extremely difficult, or unachievable unless an acceptable level of public safety and security is firmly in place in the country (or possibly even the region) in which such development is to occur. This also suggests that the more secure a place is, the more likely that it will be a favourable place to invest or do business in, although I’m not entirely sure of this second part. My guess is that it is probably a hyperbolic relationship that levels off slightly after acertain point (that point is not fixed and varies from one jurisdiction to the next).

And there are other inter-relationships. For example the ease of dealing with government officials, or the confidence which people have in the court system ( i.e. if people have no confidence over the competence of the court system, few investors will leap to invest in such an environment.); the level of corruption (recently a public official I’m acquainted with suggested that one of the reasons as to why the British closed their embassy in Malawi, was because of the level of corruption in Malawi)….but if there is insufficient security from the start, the insufficient security alone can negatively affect other areas of a society.

fearA survey carried out by Gallup Inc. in 2012 suggested that Freedom from fear of bodily harm is vital not just for economic growth and development, but more fundamentally for the wellbeing of a populace. In that study, Malawi features 30th out of 134 on where less than 50% of people felt safe walking in their neighborhoods at night. Surely that couldn’t be a good thing. The government and the people ought to work together to ensure that criminality, and thuggery are curbed, and that safety is significantly increased.

Among the stories from my childhood, one in particular stands out. When I was younger, I was told by my eldest sister that before I was born, my father never used to lock his car.  He would park it on the driveway, unlocked, and would even go as far as leaving the keys within the ignition slot, It was normal back then. Over the years, even though I’m aware that there were fewer licensed drivers then than is the case now,  I’ve come to appreciate what a great deal this level of personal security was. That in barely 30 years, the security Malawi used to enjoy has deteriorated so much, such that simple acts of confidence of the people would today be considered foolhardy.

Speaking at the 41st Munich Security Conference on “Economic Development and Security” in February 2005 , the German President Horst Köhler said that “…Unless we tackle global poverty, long-term security will remain elusive. A strategy for development is by far the best form of conflict prevention!  Those words are true today as they were then. But in whose best interest is this long-term security? Should Europeans and Americans really continue to take a leading role in combatting Africa’s problems? It may seem like a small adjustment, but in the current financial climate of cuts and receding budgets, why can’t resources be diverted from salary increases or lavish motor vehicle expenses to increased spending on security?

And this idea that security is linked to economic growth is not new, but has been around for years. 18 years ago, in November 1995, Stephen Knack and Philip Keefer published a paper titled Institutions and Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Indicators that found that the quality of institutions, operationalised as the security of property rights and the level of contract enforcement, is crucial to growth and investment.(see more here)

Historically, a desire for national security has had a profound effect on developmental strides in countries across the world. For example, in Japan, it is said that the automotive industry has its origins in the demand for trucks for the Imperial Army (Odigari and Gota 1993).

It all points to the same thing, get your security in place (be it ensuring that goods sent in from abroad get to their destination safe and untempered with, or whether it’s reducing the prevalence of burglaries, or increasing the numbers of policemen on the street) and economic development has a much greater chance of happening and growth thriving!

Similar Links and sources:

100 Voices: No 2

My next guest is a Lecturer and Academic, writer, news media & communications scholar. His interests include political and social changes in Sub Saharan Africa including Malawi. You can find out more about him on his website Spirit of Umunthu.

Jimmy Kainja, thank you very much for taking the time to do the 100 Voices interview.

Q 1: As a Malawian, how important is Malawi’s Socio-Economic stability to you and your family?

Who wants socioeconomic instability? Can anyone succeed in anything where there is no socioeconomic stability?

Q 2: After nearly 50 years since independence, what visible progress do you think Malawi has made since independence, and in your view, what pressing challenges remain? In view of those challenges, what do you think is the role of government and the people in tackling those challenges?

Nearly 50 years of independence Malawi remain donor dependent country. About 40% of its annual budget come this donors, this is huge and its impact on Malawi economy was laid bare 2 years ago when Bingu wa Mutharika decided to chase off the donors. The economy nosedived in a blink of an aye. So political independence, yes, the battle now is for economic independence.

I am 1980s baby so it will be hard for me to analyse “visible” progress of the whole 50 years of independence. But I am sure everyone would agree that Malawi is much better than it was when it attained independence in 1964. More doctors, more schools, more universities, more roads, better communications services etc. However, all these fall way short of what would be expected of a country in its 50th year of independence. If there is a country in afrika that can objectively be used as a yardstick for Malawi, than its Zambia. Zambia has now graduated to a middle-income country while Malawi has not. In fact all development indicators show that countries surrounding Malawi are doing much better than Malawi.

Both government and private sector have a role to play in tackling the persisting problems. BUT the government is a prime and a key player. It needs to provide conducive environment for this to happen. It has an autonomy of what happens with the national boundaries, the influence of private sector is limited and in many cases secondary to the government.

Q 3: As someone who lived(or has lived) outside Malawi for some time, and has been exposed to modern and progressive ideas, what symbols of development in the foreign country in which you lived have had the greatest impact on you, and why?

Efficiency in public service delivery; people’s love for their country; and a shared national vision which ensures that national policies are priorities over personal and political party interests. In Malawi a change of ruling party means dismantling everything starting all over again. In developed democracies it is the civil service that is tasked with ensuring continuation of national policies, regardless who is in power. Malawi civil service needs to be independent of political influence. This is important.

Q 4: What lessons do you think Malawians and the Malawian leadership can learn from those ideas?

I don’t think it’s the lack of knowledge, I know a lot of people with brilliant ideas but they act otherwise. I think its the mind-set and the system that needs to change. People in positions of power do things with impunity, they do things simply because they can. This has to stop. Due process ought to be valued and respected

Q 5: When you last returned to Malawi, what struck you the most as the greatest sign of improvement or development since the last time you left?

I would say the younger generation. There are a lot of young, ambitious and determined Malawians to do and achieve things. Malawi’s ICTs industry has also taken off and most Malawians aware and they keep up with global events than they did a decade ago.  That said, I also noticed a huge and growing gulf between the haves and have nots. Urban poverty is a massive and grown problem, especially in the two major cities – Blantyre and Lilongwe.

Q 6: What struck you the most as the biggest sign of stagnation or regression?

Lack of opportunities for young educated population, both urban and poor; poor governance; lack of vision and lack of clear policies to lift Malawi from the poverty trap, most important wean itself from donor dependency.

Q 7: Malawians will be going to the polls in 2014, to elect a new president. In your view what kind of leader does Malawi NEED, considering the country’s current challenges? And specifically, how should that leader approach the top job in terms of creating sustainable development and foreign reducing aid dependency?

Everything I have said above, especially point 6. Also I don’t really think it’s the leadership he/herself that matter. We are past the age of charismatic leadership; you can’t replace charismatic leadership, what is need is proper structures and institutions in place. Leaders only need to be able to work and respect those institutions/structure. These are better guiders of development. Can you imagine one of the big talking points being the president’s refusal to declare assets?

Q 8: As you know, Tobacco is Malawi’s biggest source of export revenue. Looking at the problems that have plagued the tobacco industry in recent times, what alternatives do you think Malawi has besides Tobacco, and why are they viable alternatives?

These are kind of issues that should have been dominating public discourse by now but we are fixated on personal egos and endeavours. Malawi is a second largest producer of tea in Afrika, after Kenya, I don’t know why we have not encouraged more of that. Recently, the country has started paying more attention into extractive industry, I don’t know the amount of such commodities that Malawi holds, The Financial Times recently said Malawi could hold the largest deposits of rare earths in Afrika. So maybe there’s something, but it needs to be handled with care, to avoid environmental disasters and also because these are none renewable. Malawi is also seriously lacking expertise in this industry.

Another way of boosting the economy is to boost cross-boarder trade. We need better communication. This is a serious problem in Afrika. It is easier for me to catch a flight to London than Tanzania or Mozambique, yet these two are our neighbours.

Q 9: Considering our troubled history with donors and funders such as the IMF and World Bank, most recently when Bingu Wa Mutharika was president, how do you see Malawi progressing from this relationship in view of the criticisms these organisations have received in the media across the world?

Mutharika’s experiment has left a disaster for Malawi. Everyone who witnessed what happened when Mutharika rubbed donors the wrong way would not want to repeat that. This means leaders becoming subservient to donors, like Joyce Banda is at the moment. It’s easy to blame her but the fact is almost everyone in her shoes would have done it. Malawi needs a national policy, a clear direction to weaning ourselves off aid dependency. I am sure donors themselves would support such initiative. What happened to vision 2020? We need it revived. Malawi need it as early as yesterday! Read it if you haven’t.

Q 10: We now know that Malawi has some precious minerals, including Uranium, possibly oil and other natural resources. How do you think the present government is doing regarding managing Malawi’s natural resources?

Appalling. Paladin Africa was given “tax incentive” deal to operate at Keyekera mine, the result is that Malawi is losing huge sums of money. I don’t have figures on top of my head but annually, it is enough to pay for our cash-strapped university education system. As I have said, Malawi is seriously lacking experts in this area. I hear the ministry concerned have engaged experts from a Scottish University and one other to help establish courses/training on these issues at universities of Malawi and Mzuzu.

Q 11: In your view, can the government do better to manage natural resources? If so, how can it do better?

Engage experts, people that actually know what they are doing. Government knows it, hence the efforts to involve the above-said institutions. I think government should be commended for the idea but it needs to be implemented. There have been a lot of promises in this country that never materialise.

Q12: What is your answer to increasing transparency and eradicating corruption which is plaguing most governments across Africa?

Transparency is a key prerequisite for any development effort, it is the case in any given institution; it encourages trust and work ethic. Even at a family level, couples that talk and share stuff openly are happier and more effective.  But I don’t think corruption in Afrika is a sole cause of the persistent problems on the continent. In many cases I think it is a product of it. It differs from one place to another. It is easier to discuss Afrika the country, not Afrika the continent with 54 distinct countries.

Q13: Any famous last words


100 Voices: No 1

The idea of 100 Voices came when I realised that I couldn’t remember encountering an interactive global map (online or otherwise) that had ever profiled Malawians across the world over their views, aspirations, hopes and visions for their country. So, convinced that it couldn’t possibly be a bad thing, I decided, together with my colleagues, to create something that was a first step into such a direction. At that precise moment 100 Voices was born.

My first guest is a Malawian who works as a Developer / Digital Strategist in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mr Pempho Kafoteka, welcome to 100 Voices.

Q1: As a Malawian, how important is Malawi’s Socio-Economic stability to you and your family?

Very important, I not only think about now, but also in about 5-10 years from now and how what we are doing today will impact the lives of the children and those that live in Malawi, stability helps in knowing that you at least can survive past the few days and also that there is a bright future ahead, I think it removes uncertainty

Q2: After nearly 50 years since independence, what visible progress do you think Malawi has made since independence?

I don’t think we have gained much, mainly post 1994, I think our infrastructure is still the one Kamuzu built and we are failing to even maintain that. We are not as independent as we would like to think; where we can be self sustaining. We still rely on help from the outside to deal with things on the inside and this at times puts us in compromising situations where we have to dance to things that might not prove popular with the people and in the long run might not prove to be better for the country

Q3: In your view, what pressing challenges remain and what should Malawi aspire towards?

I think education still remains a challenge, not only being in class but knowing our land and our issues. Malawi could also move away from politics such that it is not a government ruled by parties but by Malawians. I hope that one day we will look at Malawi a Malawi government that is of the people and not necessarily label it as government of DPP or PP or UDF

Q4: In view of those challenges, what do you think is the role of government in tackling those challenges?

I think more could be done to educate the people on what is happening in the world and how this in turn affects us  as Malawi as we are all in a global village, I think the media could really do a lot to help with that also, by showing our people how economic problems in the west also come back to impact us in the end.

Q5: As someone who has lived outside Malawi for a few years and hopefully been exposed to modern and progressive ideas, what things in South Africa have had the greatest impact on you, and why?

Unity, I have seen that as far as people might have opposing views as to who should be in government, they are united towards a common goal of a better life for all and this forces the leaders to work towards improving the lives of the people. People might differ in their political views but i think most still see things from the same perspective.

Q6: What lessons do you think Malawians and the Malawian leadership can learn from those ideas?

Malawians need to work towards a common goal instead of always tearing each other down because of political affiliation. Leaders need to show that they can work and support each other towards a better Malawi and in turn be leaders that are role models. It is only in showing that there is a common interest in making Malawi better then will there ever be change.

Q7: If you have recently visited Malawi, what struck you most as the greatest sign of improvement or development?

I think the communication sector has grown a lot, you see a lot more people with cell phones etc.

Q8: What struck you most as the biggest sign of stagnation or regression?

Infrastructure, the core Malawi is still the old Malawi and I think government and the private sector has done very little to expand towns and improve on spreading the congested townships. Blantyre is bigger than where everyone is living for example and there is a lot of land that is still under-used. You could say for example that the CBD of Blantyre is only between 2 roads that are not so far from each other.

Q9: Malawians will be going to the polls in 2014, to elect a president. In your view what kind of leader does Malawi NEED, considering the country’s current challenges?

I think we need a leader who is bold and has a vision; bold meaning that he will be able to make the difficult decisions that need to be made in order to steer Malawi out of the troubled waters and also be able to withstand the criticism that comes with making difficult choices, and vision is clearly the goal and idea of what Malawi must become. Those aspiring to be leaders must say how they will help in driving progress forward.

Q10: Specifically, how should that leader approach the top job in terms of sustainable development and reducing aid dependency?

I don’t think that is up to the leader alone, that is for the whole of Malawi to develop Malawi, I don’t think it will take one person to develop Malawi, they can certainly be an inspiration but when you have 15 million people I think each one of those people can do their part in developing Malawi and reducing donor dependency. If we have enough food and become an exporting nation then we can be able to have enough money to become truly independent; That is not the job of one person

Q11: Looking at the problems that have plagued the tobacco industry – which is our biggest source of export revenue– in recent times, what alternatives do you think Malawi has besides Tobacco, and why are they viable alternatives?

Tourism and mining. We need to explore our land. The market has changed and we are relying on something that Kamuzu taught us. We need to be able to adapt our economy to the market demands. We need to look at what we have that we can offer the world. The world is not revolving around farming anymore.  We must operate businesses that will utilize Malawi as a whole

Q12: Considering our troubled history with donors and funders such as the IMF and World Bank, how do you see Malawi progressing from this relationship in view of the criticisms these organisations have received in the media across the world?

I think only by becoming financially independent, then will Malawi stop being desperate to be getting loans with conditions that might see us being desperate forever. There is no progression, just debt.

Q13: How do you think the government is doing regarding managing Malawi’s natural resources?

That is a tricky subject, I don’t think Malawi has reached its peak in terms of industrialization where it has used its natural resources the way everyone is talking about resources. We have been a farming nation all this time and the only mining that we have done is Mchenga coal mine in the north and uranium and all of a sudden we are talking about resources.  We don’t really use our water resources, we still rely on rain for crops, we are not really a mining nation.  We have forests  and we don’t really export wood like that.

Q14: Can the government do better to manage natural resources? If so how?

I think now is the time government puts in place rules to do with managing resources then brings in investors who will be able to work with the natural resources that we have and then government can be judged on how well it is managing natural resources. But so far with things like Kayelekera mining maybe it could do better.

Q15: What is your answer to increasing transparency and eradicating corruption which is plaguing most governments across Africa?

I think corruption has come in because of hardships that people are facing and pure lack of knowledge. If the overall conditions n Africa were to be improved and people were living in better conditions than they are now, and there was better life for all then corruption might decrease.

Q16:Any famous last words?


Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.

© 2013, Malawi Ace.

Airports and their importance to Economic growth – lessons from Mozambique, Switzerland and Norway

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The images above show sketches of the new Nacala International airport  designed by Brazilian Architects Fernandes Arquitetos (who own the copyright to the images)  [More here]. According to the above Wikipedia entry,  “Once the airport is open people will not have to go to Maputo to get in to the country “. In other words, this will open up the North of Mozambique to the world, essentially removing the bottleneck that necessitated international passengers travelling by plane from the North, to go all the way to Maputo, which is ~1500km South west of Nacala, even when such passengers were destined for the north part of the country.

The impact of such an upgrade must not be underestimated. According to Laurie Price, Director of Aviation Strategy at Mott MacDonald, airports not only create employment and act as business getaways, but they are the main driver for tourism growth. He goes on to map a graph that lists aviation trips in countries in terms of their Propensity to Fly against Economic Strength (GDP).  Norway, a country with the highest Human Development Index features at the top with the highest propensity to fly, and interestingly, the highest GDP:

table on trips per capita against gdp - norway at top

He also makes reference to  an Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) September 2005 study that revealed that “25% of all companies sales are dependent on air transport.” and “70% of businesses report that serving a bigger market is a key benefit of using air services.”

Categorising Africa & Middle east, Russia & China and part of South America as restricted by regulation, Price appears to suggest that liberalised airline transport industries of Europe and North America make the greatest contribution to GDP.


While the links between economic growth and air transport may not be welcomed news for the pro-green lobby who would have us each drive a Toyota Prius (or better, not drive at all),  similar views as those of Laurie Price have been reflected elsewhere; James Cherry, President and CEO Aéroports de Montréal, called airports

“..economic engines and most of all a reflection of the communities they represent “ [See here]

He gives an example of Canada where he says

“… airports generate an estimated $34 billion in economic activity and are responsible for 300,000 direct and indirect jobs “

This probably suggests that a thriving air transport industry that interconnects a country to the outside world is essential for economic development. For landlocked countries not receiving supplies directly via their own ports, one would imagine that the air transport industry (including Cargo services) becomes a much more crucial factor to their economic activity.

Looking at the airports of the countries on the above graph, it appears that most countries with thriving tourist industries either have an extensive airline communication network or have many international airports within them, for some an  international airport connecting each of their major cities (or tourist centres) to the outside world. Even Switzerland, a landlocked country smaller than Malawi in size (at  15,940 sq miles – roughly one-third of Malawi’s total area [~ 45,560 sq miles]) has at least 7 airports that appear to be international airports, with flights by the local carrier serving over 70 destinations in 38 countries.

The Mozambican project was made possible by a loan of $80 million from the Brazilian government via the Brazilian development bank, Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economice Social (BNDES), as part of a $300 million credit line opened up to support projects in Mozambique.

While the airline industry in southern Africa currently appears chaotic and in tatters, with Malawi having recently flogged 49% of its airline to Ethiopian airlines,  it may be time to try different tactics. When some people have complained of unfair treatment and lack of understanding [See the sad story of Nyasa Express here] on the part of Malawian politicians regarding opening up Malawi to international travel, it would probably be wise, in my view to reconsider this issue, and abandon protectionist measures.

If Mzuzu airport, Chileka airport in Blantyre, Karonga airport and Salima airport were expanded and upgraded, to handle international flights, following a similar approach to what has happened in Mozambique with Nacala airport, it is not inconceivable to see how such measures  would create employment, begin to stimulate industry, attract investment and open up the Malawi to global trade.


1. Importance of Airports – Los Angeles Times

2. Artist Trinta says tourism ministry “dull”

3. Propeller Planes Come Back Amid High Fuel Prices

4. Aviation in Africa: Going south

5. List of Airports in Ethiopia

6. King Shaka Airport, Durban

7. Economic Growth | Aviation: Benefits Beyond Borders

Time for Africa to go back to its roots

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[Republished with Permission from the author: Vusi Gumede, PhD,  Professor & Head: Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, University of South Africa. Profile here]

As a point of departure, it is important to acknowledge that we know a lot about the challenges confronting the African continent today. Equally, we know more about the world today. It is in this context that a call to rethink Africa’s political economy is made.

Such a rethink is timely because the world economy and geopolitical affairs suggest that a different socioeconomic development model is needed. Also, as Africa celebrates 50 years since the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, it is fitting to ask and answer the ­questions pertaining to Africa’s post-independence development.

Three salient characteristics of Africa – south of the Sahara specifically – are worth ­noting. First, socioeconomic development has largely been a function of the repulsive political history of the continent. Walter Rodney, Bade Onimode and Claude Ake are among the scholars who have written extensively about the extent to which the West impoverished Africa. Thandika Mkandawire has, furthermore, demonstrated how the West and its institutions (the Bretton Woods family and the Washington Consensus) slowed socioeconomic progress in sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, as Asongazoh Alemazung would argue, there are internal factors that have also constrained progress in Africa.

A philosophy of pan-Africanism and a hope of African renaissance should shape Africa’s approach to development and global affairs. Given glaring tendencies towards neocolonialism and neoimperialism, the project of decolonisation and Afrocentricity is ever more critical. This does not mean an anti-West stance. It simply means, as Molefi Asante puts it, that Africans are (to be) fully conscious of their Africanity and always cognisant of the ground they are standing on.

In the recent past, Africa has been performing relatively well economically.

After significant setbacks caused by the structural-adjustment programmes of the Bretton Woods institutions, Africa has pulled through. Yet the recent global ­economic crisis and the ongoing eurozone crisis are affecting the continent’s economic growth – currently around 5% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Arguably, Africa’s overall economy remains relatively robust because of the resilience of Africans. This as the so-called advanced economies are  projected to rebound by a mediocre 1.5% of GDP this year – and that is probably optimistic.

The last key issue is that, politically, Africa remains divided. The unity that Nkrumah, Nyerere, Pixley Seme and others pursued is elusive. The external hand of the West, in concert with the majority of Africa’s leaders, is ensuring that the vision of a united Africa remains a dream.

The heterogeneity and diversity of the continent are a challenge that only Africans can address, even though the challenge is in part a creation of the colonialists and continues to benefit the West. To address this challenge we may have to go back to Afrocentric or pan-Africanist approaches, as articulated in the works of Archie Mafeje, Molefi Asante, Amilcar Cabral, Tiyambe Zeleza, Samir Amin and others. Mahmood Mamdani’s new book, Define and Rule, also offers useful insights.

I argue that the start should be to embrace authentic African approaches to social and economic development, for instance communalism: Africans functioning as a ­single entity to address pertinent challenges. Indigenous knowledge – a source of Africa’s resilience – could be the basis for the Afrocentricity or pan-Africanism that should be the framework shaping Africa’s affairs.

On a practical level Africa owes herself a robust developmental paradigm that is authentically and indigenously African. The current economic system has failed the world and constrained Africa’s ­development. A peculiarly African socioeconomic developmental model is needed. Africa should reject outright advice from the West and those captured by the West. The West developed through an interventionist economic development approach, as Ha-joon Chang recounts, but today the West tells Africa to follow an economic system in which the state is hands-off; a system prone to further impoverishing Africa.

It is clear that Africa needs leaders different from those we currently have (with some exceptions). All Africans need to go back to the drawing board. To embrace Afrocentricity or pan-Africanism or black consciousness, the frame of reference and the point of reference for Africa and Africans must be changed.

Robust public policies
Africa and Africans need to go back to their roots, so to speak. This might mean that Africa disengages from the rest of the world temporarily as she gets her house in order. The pre-colonial African economy, disrupted by colonialism and imperialism, was vibrant and served Africans well.

What might a social and economic development model for Africa contain? A major component should be social policy – broadly, robust public policies. The second major component is economic policy.

Many African countries do not seem to have visions for their economies. Many African economies have not transformed themselves: economic transformation must mean that the majority takes part in the economy and that all Africans benefit. At the core of this model should be effective social-protection systems, quality education and healthcare. Africa should reconsider its social pacts in the context of the new (and old) challenges confronting the continent. Without a single vision shared by all of African society and the diaspora, and owned by every member of society, development will remain a pipe dream.

We owe it to ourselves as Africans and to our forefathers and foremothers to make Africa work. To make Africa work better African cohesion is paramount.

The African Union, working with all Africans, must ensure both renaissance and unity. Leadership is critical lest, in Ayi Kwei Armah’s words, we still cry that the “beautyful ones are not yet born”.

Professor Vusi Gumede is head of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute at Unisa

Mauritius ‘not an act of divinity’


[Published with permission from the author: Professor Roman Grynberg]
Original content Source

The fact that the small island nation is relatively prosperous is the product of a fortunate history.

The world-famous Nobel Laureate in economics and former vice-president of the World Bank, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, flew a great deal and his feet rarely ever touched the ground—and when they did, it was only for brief moments to advise the great and the good, and sometimes the not-so good. The intensity of the lifestyle that such people have usually gives rise to two dangerous effects—cardiac arrest and superficiality.

Earlier this year the professor paid a visit to Mauritius and wrote a piece about “the Mauritius miracle”. In economics there have been so many “miracles”—indeed, Botswana has often been referred to as just such a miracle economy and even Japan was considered a miracle economy in the 1980s. But miracle economies, like items of fashion, come and go.

Stiglitz’s article pointed out the fact that Mauritius not only had excellent, free education and universal healthcare, but also high economic growth rates of above 5%. For a United States economist, high growth rates appear to be like a distant Asian mirage or something that, more properly, belongs in the previous century.

Americans are accustomed to a first-class but patently unfair healthcare system: until President Barack Obama’s reform it was not universally available to all working citizens. They are also used to an education system that works only if you live in a good area or are rich enough to afford a private school.

For Americans, Mauritius must seem like something of a miracle, but it is man-made. If Stiglitz had stayed just a bit longer on the beach and read about Mauritius’s economic history, he would have discovered that the country, since 1975, could sell almost every tonne of sugar it produced to the European Union at prices normally between two and three times higher than the world price. No other country in the world was ever granted such a rich and generous commercial legacy by its former colonial masters, and nothing is as important as the EU sugar ­protocol in explaining why Mauritius has the surpluses it does to invest in its own people.

The sugar protocol created massive surpluses in the hands of the sugar plantation owners, the so-called “sugar barons”, as they are known in Mauritius. After 1980 these mostly European and mixed-race planters were handed a business environment that allowed them to diversify rather than hide their surpluses in Swiss bank accounts, as happened in so many other developing countries. Being only a night’s flight from London and Paris, the sugar barons developed a successful tourism product and used their Asian connections to develop a garment industry prior to the liberalisation of the world garment trading system in 2005.

They also used their abundant tuna resources to develop a canning industry, using the high EU preferential market access of 24% for canned tuna from countries such as Mauritius and Namibia. Because Mauritius is a small island state and therefore has a very high cost structure compared with its Asian or even African neighbours, everything it produced for export was under one trade preference system or another, and even its tourism sector was geared towards high-end travellers who could afford its high prices.

Mauritius’s relative prosperity is no act of divine intervention – it is the product of a fortunate history and clever leaders who took advantage of what little a small, remote island could offer. They then invested it, as Stiglitz rightly pointed out, in their one real, renewable resource—the people.

But the generosity of the former colonial powers in providing surpluses in this equation cannot be overlooked. Although it may have made no difference in some of the strife-torn countries of Africa, one can only wonder: if the EU and US had agreed to pay overly high prices for African maize or cotton for an entire generation, instead of providing aeroplane loads of $1 000-a-day consultants while subsidising their own farmers, would there not be more countries on the continent that looked a bit more like Mauritius?

Professor Roman Grynberg is employed at the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis. He writes in his personal capacity.

Stocktaking: 24 pressing problems impeding Africa’s Economic Development


It is an obvious fact that Africa’s problems are bigger for one country, government or corporation to tackle. That although much has been done over the years in way of addressing some of the problems Africans have to live with every day, including efforts (some of which involved pouring hundreds of millions of dollars of aid into governments, causes, charities and other concerns within Africa) by numerous individuals, leaders, companies and countries, the mantle of developing Africa  was always going to be heavier, the task rather gargantuan and complex, requiring a creative approach.

Neither the Gates Foundation, nor several other high-profile billionaires and millionaires, or for that matter anybody else who over the years has/had expressed strong desire and acted to help Africa, would be able to tackle African problems alone. Not without concerted and determined effort from Africans themselves. Which minimally probably shows that tackling the problems was never a linear equation: You couldn’t pour in loads of cash, then presto! –  a developed Africa comes out the other end.

Thankfully, most of these people and organisations working for the advancement of Africa are smart enough to acknowledge that. Knowing that the problems are deeper, often multi-faceted and complex, giving a challenge that is probably as tricky to resolve as it is inviting. Philanthropists are also practical enough to realise that while essentially it’s a ‘war’ against a long list of challenges, they may never win all the ‘battles’ in that war.

However, what is surprising is that few Africans realise the extent and level of effort that is required to transform their continent, and many take it for granted that civil wars, corruption, HIV/Aids and poverty are the main problems in Africa. In addition, it is disconcerting to note that some philanthropists continue on the same aid path or approach which hasn’t worked the last 50+ years.

There have been many books written about African development [1,  234 and 5 to name a few], many articles too [including 1,  23 and 4 ], numerous videos [like 1, 2, 3], speeches, all of which are informative and worthwhile their time and content. But even they seem to have received a coy reception, certainly have not been given the attention they deserve, their advice not widely embraced by most political leaders and other stake holders on the continent, which begs the question: If the techniques of the past haven’t worked, and the new one’s being suggested are not being adopted, or at least not tried out, why should the old tactics somehow produce different results this time around? Proponents of the old aid model argue that Africa is now at a different place, where factors such as improved telecommunications and transportation links have empowered local people, meaning the old methods of disbursement of aid have a better chance of being effective now than they previously did before – when the integers were absent. This to an extent is true.

But what does bringing development to Africa actually mean? Is increasing the numbers of people living on $2 or more a day development? Or is it eradicating Malaria, Tuberculosis, H.I.V, Cholera, typhoid and other health threats? Is supplying truckloads of pharmaceutical equipment a form of development? Or is building a pharmaceutical company to synthesize drugs within Africa a form of development? What about reducing unemployment and providing more opportunities for further education? Or achieving the kind of relative peacetime  prosperity seen in North America or Europe in recent times? As you can see, all these could be said to be tenets of Development.

What makes the task of ushering in economic development more complex is that not only are the many obstacles impeding the implementation of policies that could transform Africa inter-related, but some of those obstacles do not appear to be obvious to those who have the power to effect change. To put it figuratively, it’s difficult to fight a war, any war, unless all, or at least most of your generals AND soldiers clearly understand the enemy (and their tactics).

Thus, in my view, Africa’s 24 most pressing problems (in no particular order) include:

1 – Far too many imports from outside of Africa and not enough high value Exports to balance the trade deficits. Not only is there a reluctance to delve in to hi-tech industries with potentially large earnings, but it appears like African countries are content to import things from Asia, Europe and the US and few people are asking the questions of:-

(i) whether it is possible to make some of these products within Africa?

(ii) Whether there may be an alternative product on the continent, which can be used in place of a foreign product?

In contrast, most European countries have large volumes of inter-trade amongst themselves, and when the EU has  set carbon emission targets, there’s a growing trend in some countries that something is to be imported from afar only if it can’t be cost-effectively produced locally, if it can’t be shipped, or if it can’t be imported from a nearby country. This point is related to the next point:-

2 – There is not enough trade amongst African countries. Consider this statement:

“…These costs are most acute for landlocked countries, which are heavily reliant on neighbour states to reach international export markets. The World Bank has estimated that upgrading road linkages between the Central African Republic and the DRC could increase intra-African trade by between $10 billion and $30 billion a year.” and here “…At the moment, the vast majority of goods are being imported from abroad. So if anything, rather import those goods from South Africa, and lock in some of the revenue in the region, than import them from abroad.” (Africa’s grand free trade area and what it will mean for business, by Jaco Maritz, )

3 – Archaic agricultural practices in much need of efficiency vectors  (i.e. Trucks, ploughing, planting and harvesting machinery, pesticides, availability of cheap manure / fertilisers, modern Silos (not the thatched ones made from sticks, string and mud- which arguably results in loss of a high % of the harvest / yield through rotting and attack from pests [mice,termites, etc]), widespread adoption of irrigation  and such like,  all of which will have significant benefits to African agricultural capacity and the quality of yield–> potentially ending hunger/ food shortages within Africa) [New farming practices grow healthier children]

4 – Bad and underdeveloped infrastructure:

” Distances in Africa are usually great, with rivers seldom being navigable, making long railroads the most efficient alternative. However, many companies have had difficulty maintaining output on the limited system. Rio Tinto, the third largest mining company in the world, has recently demonstrated the effect a lack of infrastructure can have on mining operations. This month it was revealed that the company had to devaluate its coal exploiting operation in the Tete province of Mozambique by 3 Billion US$. All in all, Rio Tinto carried out write-downs amounting to 14 Billion US$, forcing its boss, Tom Albenese, to step down. An insufficient transport infrastructure has been mentioned several times as the central reason for the company’s losses. While Rio Tinto’s coal operations in that area have production capacities of about 10 million tons a year, the respective railway connection to the sea can only cope with between 3 and 4 million tons a year.” – Fabian Scherer, Political Analysis South Africa.

Africa needs bigger, longer, better Roads & Railway lines:- why isn’t Johannesburg connected to Nairobi by high speed rail? Or Addis Ababa to Kinshasa via Kampala by high speed rail? Who is going to create this infrastructure that could prove pivotal in transforming Africa’s fortunes, if not Africans themselves? Isn’t it obvious that creating transportation links [which would provide thousands of people with jobs] between the big cities of Africa will improve trade [opening up national markets to local traders, reduce turnaround times]  and reduce the cost of travel [thereby encouraging tourism and movement of ideas], all of which are positives for spurring economic development?

Africa needs 21st Century Airports [of the standard of King Shaka]  to allow travel between Africa and major international cities and give a positive first impression to international visitors. Not only airports, but modern hotels fit for the 21st century, upgrading the archaic and run-down buildings that define most African cities and constructing newer, more suitable buildings to attract business; we should put an end to unreliable power supply, water cuts and build business centres equipped with modern facilities as those found in western countries; Real investment into the Tourism industry – why should African tourism be expected to be mediocre? Below average and generally not up to scratch? A few years ago, a family friend who had visited Mozambique and Tanzania hinted of her displeasure when she found cockroaches and spiders in some of the rooms in the resorts she and her friend stayed in; the brown stains in the bathrooms, and scents in the rooms. This is even before we get to the aircon. Talk of ‘African standards’, which is really an excuse for not maintaining high standards.

We have to upgrade our infrastructure and facilities to a high standard, only then will we be confident to compete with cities in Asia and South America and other emerging business destinations which are fast becoming popular places of investment. In any case, just because we have been resigned to living with pot-holes, experiencing intermittent power cuts and working in buildings without air conditioning doesn’t mean that investors / visitors will tolerate the absence of such basic things, and return / recommend us to their friends.

5 – Under-educated, incompetent, power-hungry, corrupt and spineless leaders: Africa has too many leaders with no vision, who are extravagant, out of touch with the people and having no sense of urgency regarding the gravity of the problems their countries face and their far-reaching effects. It appears as though there is lack of understanding as to how economies develop within the leadership of some countries in Africa. The reasons for this may include stubbornness, and ignorance of the developmental histories of countries such as Russia, the US, Britain, Germany, China, Canada and Brazil. It may also be because of political pressure from donors, whose aid has strings attached, and arguably restricts the kind of sustainable development policies which are much in need.

Often it appears as though trying to remain in power and acquire wealth are much greater priorities than good governance, and there are few examples of cross-party inclusion in governments. Also, I doubt how many African politicians know the real meaning of good governance.

Unless Africans unite to put their leaders to task, so that they deliver what the continent needs, or else be shown the door out, development will struggle to come by. This point is also related to point 13 below–which is related to points 15 and 19.

This is because it is difficult for Africans to vote out their corrupt politicians when most people in the rural areas -who form the majority in most African countries – live in poverty, and are often ‘palm greased‘ with handouts (including free food [maize], livestock and money) in an attempt to seduce them into voting for the same corrupt officials the continent does not need.

6 – Security: If I can’t send a smartphone via ordinary post from Manchester to Lilongwe without it going missing, what does that say of our security? Irrespective of where in Africa it went off the radar, is that good enough for Africa? How come electronic products destined to the US (or coming from Asia) get to their destinations? Will that be good enough for investors? Doesn’t such influence postage prices to be high — which in itself pushes up the cost of doing business? Africa must improve its security on all levels to attract investment. From ensuring that visitors feel safe to safeguarding our borders against infiltration of terrorists and drugs, there are no two ways about this.

7 – Low self-confidence and lack of assertiveness. If it is true that the oil troubles in Nigeria are costing Nigeria over $1 billion each month,  and have much to do with opposition to foreign corporations, why doesn’t the Nigerian government task the local oil companies to join forces with the foreign corporations under joint ventures to collectively exploit Nigeria’s resources? And in the midst of such theft, why is the increased security to prevent and stop the wastage – and bring to book those who are responsible for theft  – not forthcoming?

8 – Ageism and under-investment in Young people

9 –Lack of sufficient Capital Investment for major projects with potentially large yields [Why Africa May Never Produce a Facebook Groupon Zynga or Google]

10 – Electoral processes that are not free and that are prone to abuse

11 – Media that is not free and that is not representative

12 – Poor Healthcare  and under-investment in Women’s Health: If investors are to invest in your continent/ country, do you have hospitals of a good standard for them to use if they, their families or their staff fall sick? Or are you expecting them to build their own hospitals??? Maybe their own schools and shops?? What is the general state of your country’s  maternity health? Do you have medicines and safe surgery facilities in your hospitals? Competent doctors and nurses?

How can economic development occur when the basic health facilities are not firmly in place?

13 – RegionalismRacism, Nepotism and ethnic discrimination.

14 –   Leaders obsessed with  luxury items

15 – Low standard of Education and low investment in high-quality Education. And it’s not just education for African children. If we send our children to learn in Europe, America, Asia, Russia, Japan and other places,  why couldn’t we create Universities and schools to attract ‘International’ students–those from outside of Africa? Maybe firstly partnerships or collaborations with European and US Universities (Univ of Nottingham in MalaysiaWeill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Virginia Tech University-India, Technische Universität Berlin – Egypt ) could pave the way for speclialist learning institutions on African soil?  In any case, in an information age as we live in, employing and training teachers / lecturers from across the globe wouldn’t be an issue. Further, African born professors are teaching in some of the world’s top Universities across the world, why couldn’t we attract some of them, or at least use their services to train lecturers/ teachers of the same calibre, to provide educational instruction to African and non-African students, within Africa?

In addition, when webcasting technology is relatively cheap and accessible, surely there must be some lecturers around the world who for a set fee, would be open to providing an hour or two long lectures every week, in their subject of specialisation, during term time. This means it may be possible to run a University level course partly using ‘remote’ lecturers who are infact not physically present in the classroom, but are miles away, at MIT, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge, etc.

16 – Export Trade barriers (including protectionist measures by not only Western countries [who are buyers of African raw materials such as agricultural produce and precious metals] but also within regions in Africa). Unfortunately this factor is not entirely of our doing. Use of diplomatic channels or filing complaints at the WTO/ AU could go some way to resolve some of these obstructionist barriers to trade, but there are no guarantees that such would have any success, and essentially it boils down to diplomacy. However, bilateral treaties and widespread membership of organisations such as Fairtrade, including encouraging ‘supply chain ownership’ in certain industries may be viable alternatives. In addition, African companies should aim to have a presence in major cities such as London, New York, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Paris, Tokyo, Rome,  Berlin, Frankfurt, Madrid, and Moscow and aim to float on the stock markets. Another suggestion is the establishment of Trade and Industry organisations (like UKTI) whose sole aim would be to represent African companies in these cities, assisting them with finding markets, vetting of suppliers, etc.

17 – Weak and under-resourced civil society organisations. This point is related to point 19 below. [A practitioner’s view of the UK social investment market ]

18 – Low proliferation/ penetration of information technology including TV’s, Computers and Internet connected mobile phones. While a lot of progress has been made in this regard, there’s still a long way to go.

19 – Misdirected Aid: Instead of providing aid only to charities, or to buy food and medicines for governments, philanthropists must begin to invest comparable sums in sustainable projects across Africa. This factor is related to point 9 above. Entrepreneurs who have the ideas, but not the capital need to be sought and those with sustainable ideas that have a market must be financed. This factor has the added advantage in that you are supporting independent trade (not linked by political ties) and ensuring that if corruption does occur in government — which 9/10 times it will, entrepreneurs are sufficiently resourced to continue providing jobs and creating infrastructure, and are not being victimized on ethnic or political lines. The opposite of this, which is common in Africa, is skilled and experienced entreprenuers being sidelined for not supporting a particular political party, or for not being of the same ethnicity, or clan as the ruling elite.

20 – Jealousy and lack of patronage for home-grown brands: It’s not only hundreds of thousands of people living in Manchester who support Manchester United. Even thousands of those who live in Nottingham, support Nottingham County, or Nottingham Forest. Probably not a perfect example, but in Britain (and many parts of  the developed world), home-grown is considered good. The local pub –not the one in town, the one just around the corner — is often  the place to wind down and have a drink. Irrespective of whether a yorkshire man, or an Irish chap owns the place. It’s the local pub, so a considerable proportion of people who live local will frequent it every now and again. And it’s not just about nationalities. Even the local curry (which will most likely be owned by an Asian) or the local Chinese (owned by a Chinese) is embraced, and favorited,  it’s about buying local. If there are  more than one local Asian takeaway / Chinese, some people take turns to visit each one every so often, or will patronise the one or two who appeal to their culinary tastes. One effect of supporting home-gown is that money is circulated within the local economy.

Unfortunately, in some parts of Africa, especially Southern Africa, this is not always the case. It is more likely that if a lakeshore resort is owned by a European, it will attract more business from Africans than if it is owned by a fellow African. While the reasons for such may be a lot more complicated, its effects couldn’t possibly be positive for African industry. In my view, Africans need to change this mindset.

21 – African achievers are not as visible, even in the internet age. Few high-profile role-models have been resourced or are willing to carry the flag of Africa across Africa with a positive message not only about their achievements, but about Africa itself. Often it’s left to celebrities, a handful of activists, some aid organisations, European rock stars and the foreign media to portray Africa’s reformed image- which they rarely do.

If you need evidence for this, you don’t have to do much: Ask any sample of young people aged between  14 – 18 in any  Town or village across Africa who they have heard of on this list: Koffi Annan, Kanye West, Dambisa Moyo, Will Smith, Youssou N’dour, Didier Drogba, Mo Ibrahim, David Beckham, Bob Marley, Femi Kuti, Haile Gebrselassie, Samuel Eto’o, Alek Wek, Wole Soyinka, K’Naan, Chimamanda Adichie, Omar al-Bashir, and Aliko Dangote.

The answers you get will be revealing, but probably not entirely surprising. It is more likely than not that most young people would have heard of a politician, British celebrity,  American actor/ musician or sports personality than an African businessman who had established a business empire in Africa. So Samuel Eto’o, or al-Bashir would probably be much more well-known than Mo Ibrahim. Further, young people are more likely to listen to Kanye West, K’Naan and Bob Marley, but have probably never heard of Dangote. Which probably means few young Africans know of the achievements of fellow-African outside politics, sports, music or the film industries.

In my view this is not a desirable scenario because it gives a false impression of African success. That the only professions or fields in which an African can truly excel is in the world of Sports, Music or Acting. Also, it deprives young Africans of the story as to how people like Dangote and Mo Ibrahim made their wealth.

Ideally if African achievers spoke out more of their success, and the large media houses broadcasted more of such stories, frequently, there’s probably a higher possibility that such could have an effect on the career choices more Young Africans make later in life, a factor that could influence development on the continent.

22 – Declining work ethic and lack of discipline.

23 – Religious Fundamentalism: Why are Al-shabab and Boko Haram which are terrorist organisations passed off as ‘islamic’ militant groups? And what of the Lord’s Resistance Army, why the semi-religious veneer? Or to put it differently, is it surprising that Mali, Nigeria, Uganda and Somalia, countries who have notorious militant groups also share common denominators of ethnic or religious divisions and extreme poverty? [see here] African leaders must address religious fundamentalism. One solution may be to encourage education and have more educational endeavours in the villages / rural areas. Thus, this point is related to point 15 above, in that as more people in the rural areas become educated, it is likely that acts of religious fanaticsm will greatly reduce.

24. Foreign Corporations:

Dozens of Western multinationals have made millions of pounds in profits from exploiting African bio-resources taken from some of the poorest nations on earth, with not a penny offered in return.” declared Andrew Buncome in the Independent.

It’s impossible to overemphasize this point:- Foreign corporations do not come to Africa to develop the continent. They come to make a profit, and often a very large profit. Usually, this money does not remain in Africa, to be used for development purposes or suchlike, but instead it is wired out to be paid to their own investors and shareholders, eventually trickling into their own economies in Europe, the US, etc. Yet the resource that makes the profits possible is African, belonging to Africans. Why then don’t Africans benefit from it? Because foreign corporations -who have the  technology to exploit those natural resources – do not come to Africa to develop the continent. But to make themselves a Profit. Ask anyone with half a Brain about this sorry fact, and they’ll tell you the same thing.

Africans must learn this simple yet obvious fact. It must be ‘engraved on the palms of every African’

Just as the Chinese (the list is long and includes South Koreans, Brazil, Argentina and others) are now developing their own natural resources and those of other countries, using their own companies, and controversially in the case of China, their own labour, Africans have no option but to gain the much-needed confidence to exploit their own resources using African companies and African labour. There is no other way around this if economic development is to be effected, and you can return to this article in 20 years time, and this fact will most certainly not have changed.

Further, lack of expertise, equipment or experience are not excuses. Equipment can be bought, trainers with experience sought and hired to provide training, and experience obtained through practice in industries as diverse as Mining, Oil extraction and Bio-technology. To put it in a different way, what can African industry learn from National Iranian Oil Company which is run by Iranians, for the benefit of Iran?

Another similar view:

“Africa has lost significant revenue over the years through its failure to adequately capture proceeds from resource extraction on the continent.” – Annie Chikwanha, Resource Nationalism in Africa and Beyond, Africa Protal

And here:

The corporations use the labor and land, the people pay the price. It is absolutely modern day slavery. It is exploitation and makes you think about a 500 year history of exploitation of the African continent from its people during the days of slavery and now its resources”  – Emira Woods, director of Foreign Policy in Focus, Institute for Policy Studies.

What more can one say.

Yet if all of the above were addressed, it is not difficult to see how life on the continent could be significantly improved. But that’s not to say that all problems can be resolved overnight. Not at all, but when some of Africa’s problems have been around for over 50 years, surely if the right approach was being undertaken, it would have borne some kind of tangible fruit in all those years?

While an idyllic state of wealth, health and comfort is not achievable anywhere (even Europe has a fair share of ailing economies, let alone Eastern Europe), with even rich countries having sections of their population who languish in debt and poverty, but wouldn’t you say that if most of the above problems were addressed,  most African economies would have achieved some admirable form of economic development?

Similar links:

1. The BRICS and Africa’s growth dilemma

2. Lack Of Clean Water In Africa Documentary

3. Meet The 14-Year-Old Girl Who Developed A Low-Cost Water Purification System