Let’s stop wanting to save Africa


December, time to take stock! Without dwelling on the past too much or underlining the heavy burden placed on the performances of the ACP-countries in general and those of Africa in particular by the perils of the global economy, it is safe to say that 2017 has – notwithstanding a brief and fragile upward curve at the end of the year- prolonged the bleak outlook already prevailing in previous years.

Yet the Continent has a dynamic private sector at its disposal, a population with an entrepreneurial talent, and an abundance of raw materials; in short, assets aplenty. Which is why it could have, should have achieved a more substantial and sustained growth than it has done. Then why is it that every time an improvement is lurking around the corner they simply fail to materialize?

One of the mechanics behind this inertia is probably due to decennia of “good” intentions, i.e. state-to-state development aid, support (not to use the word “intervention”) of major institutions, or actions of thousands of charity organisations heaped upon the Continent by the West in general and particularly Europe. This condescending influx of aid has above all numbed the creative spirit of the Africans.

No wonder that ever since the seventies the national revenue of the African countries has systematically been inferior to their domestic production. This proves that a significant part of the local capital is in foreign hands in exchange for the aid mentioned above. Which de facto and in situ leads to reiterating and hardly suppressible foreign calls for expropriation. It isn’t hard to understand that these repeated threats of confiscation are a major obstacle for any economic growth. As a result, countries often succumb to endless changes of government, some administrations calling for nationalizing foreign assets, others protecting them.

We can find still other reasons behind the limited economic growth related to the colonial past and hence no longer in play, but it is not necessary to list them here for us to realize it is high time to change tack, it is high time to reconsider our basic premises, it is high time to stop wanting to save Africa! Africa is perfectly able to save itself! As long as the rest of the planet treats the Continent on a basis of equality, Africa possesses the means to do so, whatever is said and whatever the “confusion” on the subject may be.

Following the example of the Asian countries, who caught up with more developed countries without massive foreign investment but by auto-financing their physical and human potential and by raising their education levels, why would Africa not be able to do the same and take the road to a long term economic growth, as for instance Botswana currently exemplifies? The entrepreneurial frame of mind is alive and kicking in Africa, up to us to go and find it to create the world of tomorrow, together and in partnership. That is my wish for all of you come 2018!