By: Africa 2 africa By: dave AFRICA – What the future entails – GARY SUTTON – At the top of the social hierarchy is a small minority of the population living in luxury, followed by a small middle class, and a sea of squalor, in which the vast majority of Africans are mired. Such social imbalance is the cornerstone for the fiscal and monetary crisis that has plagued Africa. It is not for a lack of talent, ambition, or intelligence. It is not a lack of resources, either. Africa has a vast supply agricultural, forest, mineral, and human resources. It is because of poverty, corruption, and the legacy of colonialism that Africa has come to the terrible state in which it is.

It is in some respects the legacy of a colonial past that Africa s economy is in such a poor state. The colonial rule robbed Africans of their native value systems, and failed to replace those values with anything useful. Unfortunately, the solution is as complex as the problem, however, it is a solution the Africans must develop the solutions themselves. We have all seen pictures of starving Africans on television, and have heard the pleas for help, only to be greeted with more pictures of disaster in yet another corner of Africa.

The rest of the world has seen so much and tried so hard, only to see that work, well intentioned as it may have been, fail in the end. In order for Africans to salvage their countries, they need to understand exactly what the problems are, stripped of local cultural biases, and prejudices about the past. They must study the problems, and set aside their differences to look toward a common future. Africans must give up the belief that all their problems lie with the actions of others. Political colonialism ended thirty years ago; Africa remains poor not because of the heavy hands of colonial governments. Africans need to take responsibilities for their own problems into their own hands, and stop asking foreign governments for monetary aid.

Democracy in the western style may not be what Africans need to govern themselves. The style of government they choose must be their own choice, not the choice of foreign governments. The style of government must take into consideration the unique cultural history, attitudes, and values of African cultures. The native cultures, with their strong tendency to deference for those in power, need to adapt. They need to understand that government should be the servant of the people, rather than the people servants of the government.

Africans need to understand the nature of the corruption problem, and how seriously it damages their lives. The corruption of both public and private life has enabled the tiny oligarchies in African countries to entrench themselves in power. Such corruption has ensured that Africans will remain poor, because the oligarchies refuse to share the wealth that poor Africans have labored so hard to create. Any African government that works to solve the problems of the poor will have to take into consideration the selfishness of the oligarchy and rein in its power. Obviously, this will not be an easy task, but it can start by convincing the oligarchy that it is in the long-term, it is in the best interests of that oligarchy to work for the development of the country. Oligarchies get rich by selling what their companies have produced, but you cannot sell something to someone who does not have any money.

The oligarchies need to help build the markets that build their companies. The United States was founded as a third-world backwater of the English Empire, but it became a world power by the recognition of this basic fact by its oligarchy. When an African engages in an act of corruption, he helps seal his fate and the fate of his children to lives of poverty and misery. A proper business enterprise cannot flourish in an atmosphere of corruption. Without proper business activity, economies cannot grow. Africans need to eradicate corruption, starting within their own governments and proceeding to all aspects of African life.

A nation cannot progress until those who have properly earned wealth are allowed to keep it. Corruption is one of the principal problems impeding African development, and African nations must accept the responsibility for dealing with this problem. Many people believe that Africa is unable to grow because of overpopulation. The nations of Southeast Asia have shown that success is possible despite overpopulation. By developing the economies of African nations, the economies can grow at a rate faster than population. When economic growth is faster than population growth, population growth begins to slow, and the economies can become stabilized.

While developing in the manner of Southeast Asia, Africa needs to avoid the mistake the Asians have made that created a fragile prosperity. The Asians allowed too close of a relationship between business and government, which has fostered a corrupt regulatory system, particularly in the financial sector. African governments must maintain an arms-length relationship between business and government, and ensure that the government regulated. The solutions to the problems of Africa's problems do not lie in capital cities, but in the villages themselves. African villagers are accustomed to begging and pleading with governments for increasingly meager amounts of help, usually given in charity by foreigners, however, they have given up and begun to take matters into their own hands. They have begun to sink their own tube wells, form their own farm-to-market cooperatives, built their own grain mills and organized their own schools.

The results have been remarkable. Africa's economic growth rate has now gone from negative to positive, and that number is rising. Some African countries have achieved double-digit growth rates for the first time in their histories. What has made this possible is that African governments are increasingly recognizing that the real entrepreneurial spirit and developmental ingenuity in Africa is local. Successful governments are encouraging local ingenuity, and are doing everything they can to foster it. There is a great deal of potential in Africa.

It is the last truly undeveloped continent. Its wealth of resources could make it fabulously rich, but Africa must evolve common political values, and use its abundance of natural resources. The rest of the world has largely given up on Africa, and so it is to self-help that Africans must look. There is hope, however.

After decades of stagnation and decline, African economies are finally beginning to grow. For growth to become sustainable, Africans must put their dependency on living with corruption and short-term gain behind them. Africans must look to the future, and take their destiny into their own hands. I believe that if Africa can develop policies to eliminate obstacles in the movement of goods and services, develop mechanisms for the mobilization of natural resources, and improve economic management throughout the countries, Africa will achieve development and economic growth. These actions will alleviate poverty, and enhance the standard of living for millions of Africans.

Gary Sutton 318.