Africa ready to get rid of dependance
(Busiweek)-- The three-day conference of the World Economic Forum for Africa (WEF) that was held in Dar es Salaam last week, attended by 12 heads of State and government, the World Bank, development partners and over 1000 other delegates, marked a great start for a prosperous economic future for Africa.
Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, who fired the first shot saying Africa has all necessary natural resources, human resources and land, chaired the forum. He, however, added that what the continent lacked to make economic progress was investments to exploit the resources for mutual benefit, new technologies and a new determination to grow adequate food.
He said it was time Africa discarded the mindset that foreign aid is necessary for economic progress because aid is temporary, unsustainable and demeaning to recipients.
The debate progressed in the same vein for the full length of the conference discussing various aspects of this new focal point. One by one, leaders decried donor-dependence even on such things as controlling malaria because that was within the continent’s ability. To date, many countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia depend heavily on global financial resources to combat the disease that is claiming millions of lives annually.
Like many other African countries, Tanzania depends extensively on donors to fund development budget when in fact it could have sourced the money from within by cutting tax exemptions, dealing blows to corruption, and ensure that mineral resources benefit the citizens not just the foreign investors.
The idea of partnership in development was underscored by Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who jetted into Dar es Salaam, uninvited as two of his deputies, Arthur Mutambala and Morgan Tsvangirai were already in attendance. He took advantage of the huge gathering to invite foreign investors to go to Zimbabwe and partner with Zimbabweans for economic progress.
In a bid to foster the spirit of non-dependence on foreign aid, President Kikwete announced that apart from launching the ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ (agriculture first), he has invited serious commercial farmers worldwide to a meeting with him on 1 June 2010 to discuss on how to engage them in commercial farming in Tanzania. The government has earmarked five southern regions, hitherto known as the ‘bread basket’, for such large-scale farming as a pilot programme.
Kikwete said he was confident Africa can and should become food sufficient within a short time if governments committed themselves to investing in farming. The vast arable lands, river valleys, swamps and lakes provide ready resources for sustained irrigation farming and distancing themselves from rain-fed agriculture which has no assurance of harvests.
The WEF was indeed an opportune occasion to re-direct Africa’s mindset away from foreign aid dependence because it is unsustainable and dehumanising when Africa has capacity to become net exporters of minerals, oil and natural gas, food and human resources.
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