Thank you for responding to my invitation.
I have been away for three weeks on distinct missions whose sum total point
in one direction in terms of Africa's future.
I was in the US between October 8 and 11 for a series of engagements in Yale University to highlight the developments that have taken place in Africa in the last ten years and put them in perspective
for the youthful global community in the University.
Some of these changes in the areas of democracy and economy have occurred
between March 2000 when Economist declared Africa "a Hopeless Continent”
and 2010. By December 2011, the same magazine proclaimed “Africa Rising.”
That is why Yale asked me to speak on Afro Optimism; has the pendulum swung
We discussed the acceptance of multi-party politics, improvements in health
and education, explosion in telecommunication, discovery of mineral
resources and the unprecedented economic growth that has seen six of the
ten fastest growing economies in the last ten years being African.
It is agreed that these positives have not occurred in a vacuum or on their own.
They are Africa’s democracy dividend for which our citizens who stood up against grim faced and clenched fist dictators should feel vindicated. But we also agreed that monumental challenges remain, including need to invest in value addition so that we can export finished products, need to convert regular multi-party elections and economic progress into good governments and respect for rule of law, ensure freer societies, separation
of powers, independence of the media and the judiciary, devolution of power and resources, restriction on presidential power and respect for term limits.
More important on the economic front, we need to share the proceeds of this growth fairly and equitably. As some areas and some people have benefitted immensely from this growth, others have remained
stuck at the bottom of the ladder.
Worries also persist over corruption through which Africa loses $148 billion annually, an amount equivalent to 25 percent of its GDP. So it is an ironic twist of sorts to arrive here and find the country in the middle of a massive land scam right here in the city that has roped in government officials in a manner that only says that in Kenya, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Land has been our most abused resource. To paraphrase our economist David Ndii, land is the thing that most divides the haves and have-nots. Those who have it can leverage it to borrow money to invest
on it and prosper.
Those who don’t can suddenly find themselves squatters on their own land at
any time because a powerful person went and got a title deed for it. It is the ultimate index of greed, illegitimate wealth and
Land has seen people move from hustler to entrepreneur status without breaking a sweat. As the government makes harambee the official vehicle for development, we can only expect more of this stealing of land.
From Yale, I travelled to Mozambique as head of the joint EISA/ Carter Centre Election Observation Mission. Mozambique polls ended peacefully and
all is well that ends well. They provided lessons to be learnt on conduct
From Maputo, I travelled to South Africa for a conference on interventionism in emergencies, political crisis and disputes that dot the Continent. In the three forums; Yale University, Mozambique Elections and conference on interventions, three issues clearly emerged, all of which I concur with and all of which we, as Coalition for Reforms and Democracy have been advocating.
Electoral reforms, equitable sharing of wealth and respect for presidential
term limits are emerging as the next big challenges Africa must brace
itself for. We have embraced multi-partism and most of our nations now hold regular elections. The next question we have to deal with is whether those elections mee