Tag: Africa

29 Jun 2016

Redefining Mo Ibrahim’s Prize For African Leaders

The Mo Ibrahim’s prize for achievement in African leadership was announced few weeks ago and for the umpteenth time there was no clear cut winner for the coveted prize among past African leaders.

After reading the news, I remembered a discussion with a colleague at work recently on the personality of Mo himself and how best he could channel his God-given wealth to develop his home of descent – Sudan.

My colleague had argued that instead of Mo investing so much as high as 5 million dollars on African leaders, it would not be out of place if he directly spend or invest it in Sudan or some countries battling with economic challenges within the continent.

Since I was a novice about what he is saying I had to keep quiet but was quick to marshal out my point as well and told him I have heard so much about him and that he was at the anti-corruption conference held in London of recent alongside Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari among others.

So, who is Mo Ibrahim?

After the announcement that there was no winner in this year’s edition of the award, I was further challenged to do some googling about his personality and his rationale for setting up the African Leadership Achievement Prize.

There I found out that Mo is a Sudanese-British Billionaire with investment majorly in telecommunication and one of the most powerful persons in the United Kingdom.

The foundation he set up has been in the fore-front of sponsoring the African Leadership Prize which is geared towards celebrating leaders from the continent who had contributed immensely to the growth of their country.

From my research, one of the objectives of the prize is to ensure that Africa continues to benefit from the experience and expertise of exceptional leaders when they leave national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent.

Aside the 5 million dollars prize, it is expected that such Leader will earn 200,000 dollars monthly for the rest of his or her life.

That’s breathtaking you will say? Well, it was borne out of the free will of the donor which aims at encouraging African Leaders to invest vigorously in the countries they govern while also ensuring that such legacies are sustainable.

That the monetary value of the Ibrahim’s Prize is higher than the coveted Nobel Prize for Peace is also an indication that Mo meant well for Leaders from his continent of origin.

Since the Prize commenced in 2007, it has been won by four African Leaders, the last being former President of Namibia, Mr Hifikepunye Pohamba, .

In 2007, President Joaquim Chissano from Mozambique won the inaugural Prize while South African Leader, Nelson Mandela was an honorary awardee for that year. The award was not given to any Leader in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and of late, 2015.

Will it elude past African leaders in 2016 as well? Only time will tell.

So what’s my concern about someone’s else intention to reward African leaders for their achievements? The answer is not farfetched.

Most of these leaders are rich already while some of them will get life pensions and allowances after leaving the office. Why I am not saying leaders who have contributed immensely to the development of their countries should not be celebrated, what the sponsors of the Ibrahim’s Prize need to do is to look at sectors in which such huge amount of money can be invested.

Sectors like Science and Technology, Universal Health Coverage, Water Supply, Electricity, Education, Agriculture and Research among others can be prioritized, thus taking the continent out of the quagmire facing it in terms of funding these sectors.

Some specialized higher institutions on the continent have been established for the purpose of research in Medicine, Agriculture and Science and Technology. Such institutions are lacking adequate funds and they need grants to further consolidate on the mandate of establishing them.

Mo Ibrahim need to review his mandate on the 5 million dollars African Leadership Prize by channeling it to the development of countries and institutions on the continent rather than her leaders.

Africa need more philanthropists like the Sudanese-British billionaire at the moment in order to take her rightful place among the comity of nations.

Ours is a continent that is rich with abundant resources and talents which will take up the world in the near future. Suffice it to say that most innovations and inventions we see in America and the West today were developed by African brains.

29 Apr 2016

A Review of Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid, by Semiu A. Akanmu

Aid, “a sum total of both concessional loans and grants”, from donors – mainly Western, to African countries has “hampered, stifled and retarded Africa’s development” is the thesis of Dambisa’s Dead Aid.  It is a tightly-argued book, combative, deep, factual, and above all, problem-solving.

Dead Aid – a 187-page, 2-part, and 10-chapter book – is an army on its own in the ranks of anti-aid dependency model for African development. It attacks the moralist and the liberal developmental narrative of Africa’s needs of aid to fight its plague of diseases, build its social and physical infrastructure, and alleviate the poverty of its people. Contrary to that, Dambisa argues, aid kills economic growth, stifles African entrepreneurship, promotes corruption, encourages coup and leadership despondency, and plagues African countries to more socioeconomic crisis.

“Sub-Saharan Africa remains the poorest region in the world with an average per capita income of roughly $1 a day…  Life expectancy has stagnated, adult literacy has plummeted, diseases ranging from bilharzia to cholera are on the rise, the income inequality is worrisome, political instability is raging”, she laments, and asks rhetorically, “Why is it that Africa, alone among the continents of the world seems to be locked into cycle of dysfunction? Why is it that out of all continents of the world, Africa seems unable to convincingly get its foot on the economic ladder?”  “The answer has its roots in aid,” she posits.

Dead Aid draws on a historical background to explain the rationale behind the constitution of aid development, and what would later translate to three organisations: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known as World Bank), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Trade Organisation. It explains that, even though the concept helped in reconstructing Europe after the World War II, same cannot be said of Africa because: (a) no institutional framework, (b) no transparency and accountability, (c) no exit plan for aid injection, and more pathetic (d) not really meant for African development.

Dambisa listed the supporting proofs (Marshall plan, IDA graduates, with conditionalities, and a micro-macro paradox) of aid proponents, and dismantled each with potent empirical evidences and logical counter-explanation. She enumerated how “culture of dependency” naturally kills creativity, its casual effect on corruption because freebies are normally recklessly spent, and civil war. She lamented the civil society’s commodification of poverty to ensure tap of grants continues flowing, the inflationary effect of aid, among others.

What stand Dead Aid out are its alternative provisions. It strongly suggests viable and result-oriented routes that can be taken instead of the aid-dependency developmental model. It elicited capital market, foreign direct investment (FDI), trade, micro-financing and lending, remittances, and savings – with respective systematic planning and application. It, however, does not suggest an instantaneous shutoff of aid door. Rather, a planned phasing-out timeline is suggested so that African countries can explore and implement other dependable options. Likewise, it supports humanitarian aid which is occasionally meant as relief in times of natural disaster and epidemic.

What remains a debatable hypothesis, in the absence of empirical evidences, is whether aid moderates/correlates economic retrogression or causes it. Dambisa, knowing the strength of such assertions, tactically avoids it. However, she made veiled attribution of that when she writes “…where private capital trumps aid every time is on the question of governance”, “Good governance trumps all”, and  “…in a world of good governance, which will naturally emerge in the absence of the glut of aid…” What the above portends is that, good governance causes economic development, and it naturally exists in the absence of aid. We can rewrite it, as a pseudo-conceptual model, that: Aid (antecedent) leads to bad governance (mediator), then leads to economic retrogression.

Even though the question of what measures “bad governance” is open-ended, one is tempted to agree with the hypothesised linkage between aid, bad governance, and economic retrogression. In all African countries, South Africa and Botswana are most economically viable, according to Dambisa, and they took a non-aid-dependency developmental model.

Citation(s): Moyo, Dambisa. Dead aid : why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009, 188 p.


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