Africa Image Live


Grab the widget  Tech Dreams

Friday, 24 April 2009

Fulfilling Africa’s Economic Dreams

Part I: Africa Must Achieve Political Stability First Before Economic Development

The greatest threat to the economic development of Africa is political instability. Political stability is the foundation of economic development; it is the magic bullet and the magnet that holds all other activities in a country together; and provides the avenue for investment, job creation and raise the necessary revenue needed to fight poverty and diseases. It is an indisputable fact that Economic development thrives well in atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. 

However, since independence many of the countries in Africa have known only wars, coups, dictatorships and violence. This cycle of wars, coups, dictatorships, violence and political instabilities has established the continent as a no go area for investors. Africa scores badly among investors as a place where the risk of investment is high and where businesses are done contrary to norm. Such concerns are largely informed by the anarchy in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Northern Uganda, Guinea, Mauritania and the dictatorships in Gabon, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe and many other places. 

It is also informed by the violence in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the tensions in Ivory Coast. Such instabilities, wars and election violence seen in Africa are the major reasons why investors shy away from the continent; capital flight is high and the confidence of those with investment in the continent continue to wane. At the moment about $150b leave the continent annually due in part to the political stalemate in Sudan, Chad, DRC, Niger Delta, Northern Uganda, and the Great Lake Region. 
The chaos, confusion and violence that always characterise elections create an atmosphere that only work to isolate the continent as attractive destination for investment and are the reasons why the continent is seen as the most expensive place in the world to do business. All these instabilities do not help the image of the continent and is a factor why endemic poverty is rampant.

Therefore to ensure investor confidence, promote and sustain economic development and growth, there should be a complete political stability in the whole of the continent. Without political stability it is impossible to achieve any economic development and fight poverty. It is a fact that you cannot rebuild your house while it is still in flames and so African countries must ensure they get stability first before talking about economic development. How do you construct roads in war zones or build a factory in militarised territories? Political stability is the homework African countries must do in order to achieve economic development. Establishing political stability through a democratic process is the magic bullet needed to defeat poverty. 

To achieve political stability there area a number of tough decisions Africans must make. First the leadership in the continent must realise that instability anywhere is a threat to stability everywhere. Therefore they must work together to eliminate all those factors that act as magnet to engineer and fuel the instabilities. 

Tyrannical rule, civil wars, and military adventurism must give way to democratic governance. It is the only way that can bring stability to the continent and prepare her for the economic development that has eluded her peoples for decades. Political stability is highly compatible with economic development; a disruption of one is a disruption of the other. Democratic governance is the political path Africa must chart if it is to prepare itself for economic development and social progress in this 21st Century and beyond. 

This therefore calls for an end to dictatorial rule in all parts of the continent especially in Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Congo, Libya, Egypt and Zimbabwe where few people, their families and cronies have hijacked their countries and taken the people hostage. 

All undemocratic leaders and tyrants must be made to understand that the days of unchecked power and despotic rule are over. The current situation where Gaddafi, a dictator is calling for a federal Africa is totally unacceptable. The only acceptable way is for all leaders including Gaddafi, Obiang Nguema, and Blaise Campore to make themselves available for free and elections if they wish to serve the people and I mean serve the people not to be served by the people. All leaders in the continent must be reminded that they do not own their countries and the resources in them. The claim by Mugabe that “Zimbabwe is mine” should be condemned unequivocally. 

The stability also calls for an end to all civil conflicts, military interventions and armed rebellious currently seen in Sudan, Uganda, DRC, Guinea, Mauritania, Chad, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Use must be made of the few Africa role models in the continent like Joachim Chissano, Kofi Annan and Desmond Tutu to mediate to bring an end to the conflicts in Darfur, Somalia, Northern Uganda, DRC and all the troubled parts of the continent. They should also encouraged the dictators and kleptocrats to loose their grip on power; allow free and fair elections and return all the funds they have looted. All parties including individuals and groups with grievances must be encouraged to seek redress from the Africa Court of Justice instead of rushing to take up arms. 

The current state of political unrest in Africa is in nobody’s interest not governments, opposition parties or the people and that is the more reason why democratic reforms must be spearheaded in countries where people have fewer political rights and cannot democratically change their leaders. People must be given the chance to elect their own leaders. 

There should be a level playing field for the ruling governments and opposition parties so as to avoid allegations of vote rigging that are major cause of instabilities and violence in Ivory Coast, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Somalia among others. To ensure this there should be financial support to political parties and all must have unrestricted access the state media. Again election observers must be allowed without any restriction to observe elections and make their own assessments without pressure from any quarters. 

The AU and the sub regional bodies such as ECOWAS, SADC, EADC, COMESA, AMU and ECCA have a major role to play in ensuring the stability. The AU leaders must be reminded that instability anywhere is a threat to stability everywhere. The days where few individuals take over power and do what they like without the AU or sub-regional bodies saying or doing anything must end. Therefore, the Charters of AU and sub regional bodies should be implemented to the letter and all those who violate the charters should be punished severely. All clauses that limit the bodies from criticising or having greater role to play in times of crisis should be removed. The democratic countries in the continent should work closely together and encourage the less democratic ones to adopt reforms with the aim that Africa stands to gain more from being democratic than being under dictatorships. Therefore all nations must be encouraged to ratify and implement the New Partnership for
Africa Development (NEPAD) charter. 
In addition each country should have a constitution that caps or stipulates a fixed term of office for political office holders and that fixed term should be adhered to even if a candidate is a messiah.

The current situation in Algeria and Tunisia where both presidents have changed the constitution in order to run for a third term of office and in Nigeria where Olusegun Obasanjo tried unsuccessfully to run for a third term is very unfortunate for and must be discouraged at all a cost for it is such actions by African rulers that have brought wars, coups and mayhem to however a peaceful people. Such actions only fuel corruption, nepotism, cronyism, abuse of power and mistrust between the ruling and opposition parties and serve as breeding ground for coups, civil unrest and political instabilities.

Even though the number of armed conflicts has gone down compared to a decade ago, the continent is still prone to instabilities and giving such a political climate, it is obvious that political stability will not be possible without an African Military High Command with powers to crisis, emergencies and crash any rebellion, arms insurgence that may show its ugly head in the Africa political scene. The establishment of AMHC should be done on condition that all leaders will submit themselves to the rigour of elections and allow their people to choose whoever they want to lead them without intimidation, threats or whatsoever. 

Tyrannical rule and military regimes are highly incompatible with the establishment AMHC and therefore all effort must be made to ensure that democracy is respected and that leaders are not forced on the people. Already the Southern Africa Development Community has created what they call SADC Brigade and it is beginning to make impact in the region.

The Pan-Africa Parliament should be fully resourced to deal with issues affecting the continent more importantly corruption, poverty, environmental degradation and political instabilities. Laws enacted by parliament must be binding on all members and countries that frown on the laws must be severely sanctioned. 

The Africa Court of Justice must be made the highest in the continent with powers to settle disputes between and within countries. It must be a court of last resort in the continent. Africans cannot build a just society without a strong media and without contribution of civil society organisations. The media, civil society organisations must be allowed to operate freely without fear of intimidation or attack and under no circumstances should a media house, NGO, and CBO be barred from operating in a country. Therefore in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea and in many other countries where the media and NGOs have been banned governments must be forced by the AU to let them in. 

Western political and business leaders must stop doing business with all the dictators, and coup makers the likes of Bongo, Obiang Nguema, Gaddafi, Mugabe and all those who have used undemocratic means to hold on to power. Sanctions and embargo targeting these leaders (not their people) should be enforced so as to force them to loose their grip on power. Western and Asia defence companies and contractors who illegally and irresponsibly ship arms to the continent to fuel the conflict and create instabilities for their own selfish interests must be identified and barred from doing any business in the continent. 

A democratic Africa free from tyrants, coups, civil wars is the single most important ingredient necessary for attaining economic development because it is an undisputable fact that development thrives in atmosphere of peace and tranquillity not hostilities, instabilities and tyrannical rule. There is no way Gaddafi who doubles as Chairman of AU and head of state of Libya could advice Mugabe or Mwai Kibaki to accept election defeat when he (Gaddafi) has been a dictator for 39 years. There is no way Omar Bongo could advice Obiang Nguema when Bongo is the longest ruling head of state in the world. For Gaddafi and Bongo to offer any genuine advice they must relinquish power and allow free and fair elections to take place. 

Tyrannical rule, civil wars, and military adventurism must give way to democratic governance. It is the only way that can bring stability to the continent and prepare her for the economic development that has eluded her peoples for decades. Political stability is highly compatible with economic development; a disruption of one is a disruption of the other. This is the political path Africa must chart if it is to prepare itself for economic development and social progress in this 21st Century and beyond.

By Lord Aikins Adusei 
The Author is a Political Activist and Anti-Corruption Campaigner

1 comment:

Ghana Pundit said...

well articulated message. I hope it finds its way to the inner rooms of those who control power in Africa

AllAfrica News: Latest

Pambazuka News :Comment & analysis