Thursday, May 05, 2005

Solutions for Africa


In his opinion article in the Daily Telegraph, Franklin Cudjoe of the Ghanese institute Imani states that “the solutions for Africa are not aid, debt relief or fair trade. It is to adopt institutions to harness the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in every African country, to enable Africans to trade with each other and anyone else in the world.”

I think this is absolutely true. Even more than anywhere else, the problem of Africa is the State itself. Even more than anywhere else, it is not an institution to protect people’s rights. It is rather an institution used for robbing the people.

In the West, the old nation states do a better job, they are not that harmfull. Nevertheless, they don’t really differ from the African states. But they had to legitimize themselves through a long historical process. People, cities and counties, used to the medieval freedoms, didn’t allow the state to serve for any other purpose than protecting people’s rights. Let’s say, they managed to a certain extent. This didn’t happen in Africa. States were installed there without any historical context, not rooted in any culture.

How to achieve good institutions? Well, in the first place, it are the people of Africa who shouldn’t just accept their leaders any more if they don’t do their job well. The internet and the global culture can play a big role in that. At the end, a cultural change by everyone is needed in Africa.

Secondly, the Western states shouldn’t just legitimize too much corrupt politicians in Africa. I think it was a brave statement of the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karel De Gucht, to say “he hadn’t yet met any Congolese politician that impressed him”. The whole Congolese political class started to fear they‘d lose their positions. But at the end, it is of course better to do business with them, not to punish the country by sanctions, and to lift all trade barriers for Africa. To start with abolishing the EU its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

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For the article, see

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