That is the core point made by Dr. Mo Ibrahim on how to develop the economies of all 57 African countries. He explains his ideas at: Mo Ibrahim On How (And Why) Africa Should Solve Its Own Problems.
(Why am I cross-posting this article from my other blog, Nonprofit Update? Because the core of the comments from Dr. Ibrahim are related to the idea that economic freedom and political freedom are more moral than any alternatives and provide the best results for the people living in a country. Back to his comments.)
He wonders why African people are so poor. He thinks of where Ghana, Egypt, China, India, and Singapore were 50 years ago. Then, Ghana and Egypt were the richest countries of those five. Look how far the other three have advanced.
The problem is bad governance in both the public and private sectors.
We are poor because of misrule, because we are badly governed. I don’t subscribe to the narrative that Africa is backward because of colonialism. Africa has been independent for 50 years now. Let’s forget the past, we need to get up and dust-off ourselves and get on with life.
He says the continent doesn’t need more development aid:
Not any amount of aid is going to move Africa forward. The only way for us to move forward is to ensure good governance – the way we manage our economy, our social life, our legal structures and institutions – that is the basis for development.
He suggests that all of those areas need to be addressed in terms of governance. It is not just a single issue, but a range of areas: Not just corruption, but also democracy, roads, transparency, leadership, effective taxation, removing trade barriers, and human rights all simultaneously.
Effective trade is also a major issue. He travels in Africa on a British passport. Getting visas on his Sudanese passport takes too long to do anything.
Trade barriers create more distance than geography:
It is more difficult to pass goods from East Africa to West Africa than taking it from China to West Africa and is more expensive.
That trade barrier slows development.
He emphasizes that governance and transparency are needed in the private sector as well. He points out the public sector gets lots of help getting corrupt from the private sector.
Dr. Ibrahim is another powerful voice on how to lift people up. Check out the full article and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation website.
Confirmation bias is a major risk I’m taking in highlighting this article. That means there is a danger I like Dr. Ibrahim’s ideas because they reinforce my ideas. Of course I don’t think that is so, but that is the danger of confirmation bias. If that is the case, take my comments with a grain of salt if you wish. On the other hand, perhaps I like Dr. Ibrahim’s article because he is right.