Dambisa Moyo Discusses Future Models for Africa

Question: Is an African Union economically viable?

Moyo:    Is yet to be seen, I think the immediate issue is economics.  I’m an economist and so my advice is towards economics as a prerequisite to any political system.  I do not think that having…spending time on issues of democracy per se or political systems is necessary at the time when people are starving and dying from the failure of the economic system on a daily basis.  I believe and my approach is we first want to ensure that you have the economic systems and place it.  People can actually provide for themselves.  They can get jobs and they’re correctly incentivized.  So that, you can actually build up and generate the middle class with vested interests like anywhere else in the world and it’s that middle class that will force the government to deliver on it’s promises which is like is the way it works anywhere else in the world including in the United States.  So, any conversation about the political frame up to me is moot until you actually have an economic, a sustainable economic strategy in place where people feel it’s alleviating poverty and actually generating long-term economic policy, opportunities for Africans.

Question: Which African countries can serve as economic models?

Moyo:    There is good news and this is what I was talking about earlier.  We tend to dwell on the negative things in Africa and that’s what we, as the international committee seems to have a lot appetite for that and the people who have ostensively become the face of Africa seem to want to focus on the negative aspects, but let’s just take a look at what’s happening in the last five to seven years.  Africa now has 15 stock markets with 500 stock exchanges, excuse me, 500 shares at trade on the stock exchanges.  We’ve seen actually improvement in infrastructure largely because of the Chinese and Africa.  We’re seeing also job creation.  We’ve seen African countries achieved and sometimes past 7% growth rates and even now, at the height of the credit crisis, the IMF is forecasting that Africa could grow by about 3 1/2% between 3 and 3 ½%.  This is the time when many countries around the world are posting, expecting to post negative growth rates and the world as a whole likely to grow around 0.5%.  So, there is good news.

Question: What is the extent of China’s presence in Africa?

Moyo:    I think what the Chinese have done in Africa in the last 10 years has been amazing.  They have brought in infrastructure word has not existed before and they provided jobs where we’ve not been able to get jobs in the past 60 years.  Overall, I would say that they’ve been a positive force towards economic development in Africa.  They have even diversified their approach to Africa initially was very heavily dependent on the mining and mineral sector in oil and gas.  They now become much more focused on things like agriculture, banking sectors in much more diversified.  Now, this is not to say that the Chinese are perfect and that they should come to Africa carte blanche.  I think that the many issues at the media for certain the Western media has picked up on and there’s a lot of scope for trying to actually improved that this course the alliances between African countries and the Chinese.  But that is not the responsibility of the international community to police that. It’s the responsibility of African governments were they accountable to their people to actually ensure that the Chinese are behaving in the best interest of Africa.  So, I think that there’s a lot of scope there and I think that it really boils down again to the notion of incentives.  When the Chinese come to Africa, they look at Africans as equals or at least as business partners and a basis partner which to engage is all commercial.  Whereas, when lesson has come to Africa its 2/3 relationship, their coming in as the superior donor and the African are always viewed as the junior partner or the inferior recipient.

Moyo argues that any political restructuring is moot until there is a program of sustainable growth.

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