President Paul Kagame’s visit to the United Kingdom, and his addresses both to the London School of Economics and the Conservative Party Annual Conference, Blackpool, could easily be adapted as a blueprint for development by poor brother African governments struggling to find decent and sustainable livelihoods for their people.
Ranging widely and richly on many topics, President Kagame opined that Africa should break the dependence syndrome from developed countries that comes as aid, and shift to investment.
There is no space for analysing the president’s speeches, but it is worth noting that his call for minimising exporting only raw materials, and turn to processing them before export thus adding value first, should not be taken lightly.
Instead of exporting coffee beans for example, we export coffee as a finished product.
Of course it might not be wholly up to us to export what we want, but the statement must be made.
The West’s market protectionist policies are the major enemies, and as long as these are not dismantled so that Africa tastes equal market economics everywhere in the world, our efforts, and conversely, their millions of dollars in aid, will not answer sustainable development principles that both are seeking.
There are countries in Africa that threw off the dependency syndrome in a small measure, when in the 80s they declined any more food aid for schools from the World Food Programme.
At the request of some governments, WFP stopped feeding school children, because the argument was, schools have enough human and financial resource to at least generate enough food reserves for themselves. Since then they have never looked back.
This falls in pretty well with the president’s call for having policies that are developed for a particular situation or country, and not a one-size-fits-all.
African nations should seriously consider uniting without a single dissent, to fight for a free global market. That is when we shall successfully develop, when we are growing, and then later selling our own processed products.