Thursday, January 15, 2009

Africa's Balance Sheet

Africa is the most resourceful continent on earth as highlighted by our balance sheet. Ironically, it is the most problematic continent in the world from development perspective.

What explains this salient contrast? Possible causes include colonisation, backward technology, and unskilled workforce. But most of Africa’s woes, in my view, stem from bad governance.

Bad governance is often equated to corruption, which means the “use of public office for private gain” according to Transparency International. However, the definition of bad governance can be extended to include any abuse of public authority and misuse of public resources by government officials.

There is strong empirical evidence today to support the impact of good governance on a country’s prosperity. For example, one study published by the University of Michigan in 2007 indicates that Indonesia’s per capita GDP was lower than Nigeria’s in 1965, but in 2000 Indonesia’s per capita GDP was five times higher than Nigeria’s. Another example to illustrate the importance of good governance is Botswana. The country sustained high economic growth over three decades despite the HIV AIDS pandemic that is now taking a toll on its population. Development specialists are unanimous that the outstanding success of Botswana is due, in large part, to the quality of the country’s leadership.

Africa needs development leaders. Only Africans with a clear development vision for Africa can succeed in improving the current economic and political situation of the continent.

Future Africa Gateway is created to encourage debate on various policy issues in Africa. We intend particularly to enhance young people’s interest in African leadership and governance issues through policy analysis and information sharing on training and professional development opportunities.

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