George Ayittey replies to VIII:
I shook my head when I read your response. It amounted to trying to
score debating points. It was getting too personal too. It was not very
useful. It is such academic debates that make us, African scholars and
intellectuals, irrelevant to Africa's needs. There was NOTHING,
absolutely nothing, in that write-up of yours that helps us move Africa
forward. You have no solution for the resolution of any of Africa's
crises except for the naïve and vague call for "foreign involvement."
Like I said, if this is your position, good luck. I won't debate you on
If, on the other hand, you are "willing to accept solutions to Africa's
many problems regardless of their source (and whether they are local or
foreign) AS LONG AS THEY WORK and have the potential or proven capacity
to bring some relief to Africa's trouble spots," then what is wrong with
me suggesting that an indigenous African approach to conflict resolution
might work better than the Western approach?
Re: Sudan Crisis and Africa's Crises
You wrote that: "The Sudan crisis is not representative of African
crises. In fact in many ways it is unique in that it is a racial crisis
in which the traditional alliance between Arab and Negroid Africa and
between Africa and the Arab world and their powerful allies in the UN
Security Council, has come under increasing strain. It is thus not
surprising that there is such schism in deliberations on the crises."
Moses, you are wrong on this. Sudan's crisis IS representative of
Africa's crises. It is no different from the crisis in Ivory Coast,
Rwanda or Somalia. The basic cause of most of these crises is the
POLITICS OF EXCLUSION. In country after country in Africa, the story has
been the same: the monopolization of both economic and political power
by a tiny group (racial, ethnic, or professional), which uses its
governing authority to extract resources from the peasantry and spend
them to enrich itself. All others, the majority, are excluded.
Under South Africa's abominable system of apartheid, whites captured
political and economic power while blacks were excluded from
participation in government and the spoils system. But similar systems
of political and economic apartheid pervade the rest of Africa. In Sudan
and Mauritania, Arabs held power and blacks were excluded (Arab
apartheid); in Rwanda and Burundi, the Hutus and Tutsis alternatively
usurped power; in Nigeria the Hausa-Fulani ran the government (tribal
apartheid) until 1999; Togo, Zaire, and Uganda were overtaken by the
military (stratocracy); and Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Mozambique, Kenya,
and Tanzania were run by one political party (one-party state).
Time and time again, it is always the politically excluded group that
rise up in a rebellion that degenerates into civil war. Sudan's war is
Re: Traditional Africa
I disagree with what you, Kissi, and Emetulu wrote. Rather than you
continuously quoting them, let them respond to clarify their positions.
The colonialists signed numerous treaties with traditional African
rulers. If you, Kissi and Emetulu claim that "village government was a
minority among the several political arrangements we had in pre-colonial
Africa," I won't waste time debating this. You must know your own
African heritage. You claim that "different degrees of despotism and
one-man rules were more prevalent." Explain what you mean by different
degrees of despotism and one-man rules? In which African states? Your
ignorance of indigenous African political systems is stultifying.
Re: Foreign Aid
I have NEVER said Africa should spurn foreign aid or help out of "an
emotional need for African pride and honor." But before any such help
can be effective, Africa must put its own house in order. Marshall Aid
to West Germany and Western aid to South Korea, and Japan were effective
because they already had in place what economists call "absorptive
capacity" or the requisite institutions. In Africa, such absorptive
capacity does not exist because we, the elites, have corrupted and
rendered our institutions dysfunctional. The West has poured in more
than $500 billion in foreign aid and credits but all that aid has been
ineffective. If the main issue is that aid monies and logistical
assistance are often embezzled by local politicians, as you claim, why
don't you put a stop to the embezzlement? Why do we constantly have to
call for "foreign involvement" in resolving a LOCAL problem? Are we
Re: Resources and Logistics
A persistent theme in your response was Africa does not have the
resources nor the logistics to resolve many of its current crises.
Therefore, there is the need for "foreign intervention." This, I am
afraid, reflects "intellectual astigmatism" - the programmatic tendency
to look only one way - outside Africa -- for resources to solve Africa's
problems, which has resulted in hopeless aid dependency. Moses, have you
ever bothered to look WITHIN AFRICA?
Moses, for your information, Africa's begging bowl leaks horribly,
geopolitical realities notwithstanding. Has it occurred to you that
Africa can find MORE resources by plugging the holes in its begging
At a workshop organized for the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Foreign
Affairs at Ho, Ghana, Dr. Yaw Dzobe Gebe, a fellow at the Legon Center
for International Affairs at the University of Ghana, stressed the need
for the African Union to look within the continent for capital formation
to build a viable continental union with less dependency on foreign aid.
AWith an accumulated foreign debt of nearly $350 billion and estimated
capital requirement of more than $50 billion annually for capacity
building, it is time Africa begins to look within for capital formation.
Experience in the last 40 years or more of independence and association
with Europe and America should alert African leaders of the fact that
there are very limited benefits to be derived from benevolence of the
development partners@ (Daily Graphic, July 24, 2004; p.16).
I know that as a historian you are not a "big fan of statistical
discourses or crude empiricism because they are simplistic and
reductive" but economists deal with statistics. Africa's investment
process may be compared to a "leaky bucket@. The level of the water
therein C GNP per capita C is determined by inflows of foreign aid,
investment, and export earnings relative to outflows or leakages of
imports (food, luxury consumer items), corruption, and civil wars.
Africa=s balance of payment situation in 1998 showed a balance of
payment deficit of $17.9 billion. This had to be financed by new
borrowing, which would increase Africa=s foreign debt, or by the use of
reserve, which were nonexistent for most African countries. This number,
however, does not tell the full story. Hidden from view is a much
grimmer story- the other more serious leakages.
According to one UN estimate, A$200 billion or 90 percent of the
sub-Saharan part of the continent's gross domestic product (much of it
illicitly earned), was shipped to foreign banks in 1991 alone" (The New
York Times (Feb 4, 1996; p.A4). Capital flight out of Africa is at least
$20 billion annually. Part of the capital flight out of Africa
represents wealth created legitimately by business owners who have
little faith in keeping it in Africa. The rest represents loot stolen by
corrupt African leaders and politicians. Nigeria's President, Olusegun
Obasanjo, claimed that corrupt African leaders have stolen at least $140
billion (,95 billion) from their people in the decades since
independence (London Independent, June 14, 2002. Web posted at www.
Foreign aid has not been spared, either. Says The Economist (Jan 17,
2004): AFor every dollar that foolish northerners lent Africa between
1970 and 1996, 80 cents flowed out as capital flight in the same year,
typically into Swiss bank accounts or to buy mansions on the Cote
d=Azur@ (Survey; p.12). At the Commonwealth Summit in Abuja, Nigeria on
December 3, 2003, former British secretary of state for international
development, Rt. Hon Lynda Chalker, revealed that 40 per cent of wealth
created in Africa is invested outside the continent. Chalker said
African economies would have fared better if the wealth created on the
continent were retained within. "If you can get your kith and kin to
bring the funds back and have it invested in infrastructure, the
economies of African countries would be much better than what there are
today, she said (This Day [Lagos], Dec 4, 2003). On October 13, 2003,
Laolu Akande, a veteran Nigerian freelance journalist, wrote that:
"Nigeria's foreign debt profile is now in the region of $25-$30 billion,
but the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria,
ICAN, Chief Jaiye K. Randle, himself an eminent accountant and social
commentator has now revealed that individual Nigerians are currently
lodging far more than Nigeria owes in foreign banks. With an estimate he
put at $170 billion it becomes immediately clear why the quest for debt
forgiveness would remain a far fetched dream"
In August 2004, an African Union report claimed that Africa loses an
estimated $148 billion annually to corrupt practices, a figure which
represents 25 percent of the continent's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
"Mr. Babatunde Olugboji, Chairman, Independent Advocacy Project, made
this revelation in Lagos while addressing the press on the survey
scheduled to be embarked upon by the body to determine the level of
corruption in the country even though Transparency International has
rated Nigeria as the second most corrupt nation in the world" (Vanguard,
Lagos, Aug 6, 2004. Web posted at www.allafrica.com).
Back in the late 1980s, Sammy Kum Buo, director of the U.N. Center for
Peace and Disarmament, lamented that "Africa spends about $12 billion a
year on the purchase of arms and the maintenance of the armed forces, an
amount which is equal to what Africa was requesting in financial aid
over the next 5 years" (West Africa, May 11, 1987; p. 912). Since then,
this amount has increased for all of Africa: AExcluding South Africa,
spending on arms in sub-Saharan Africa totaled nearly $11 billion in
1998, if military assistance and funding of opposition groups and
mercenaries are taken into account. This was an annual increase of about
14 percent at a time when the regions economic growth rose by less than
1 percent in real terms@ (The Washington Times, Nov 8, 1999; p.A16).
Total expenditures on arms and militaries exceed $15 billion annually
and are already included in total imports.
Civil wars continue to wreak devastation on African economies. They cost
Africa at least $15 billion annually in lost output, wreckage of
infrastructure, and refugee crises. The crisis in Zimbabwe, for example,
has cost Africa dearly. Foreign investors have fled the region and the
South African rand has lost 25 percent of its value since 2000. Recall
that more than 2 million Zimbabwean refugees have fled to settle in
South Africa, and the South African government is preparing a military
base at Messina to house as many as 70,000 refugees. Since 2000 almost
60,000 physicians and other professionals have left Zimbabwe (The
Washington Post, March 3, 2002; p. A20). According to The Observer
[London] (Sept 30, 2001), Zimbabwe's economic collapse had caused $37
billion worth of damage to South Africa and other neighboring countries.
South Africa has been worst affected, while Botswana, Malawi,
Mozambique, and Zambia have also suffered severely.
As we have seen, neglect of peasant agriculture, the uprooting of
farmers by civil wars, devastated infrastructure, and misguided
agricultural policies have made it difficult for Africa to feed itself.
Therefore, Africa must resort to food imports, spending $15 billion in
1998 (World Ban 2000a; p.107). By 2000, food imports had reached $18.7
billion, slightly more than donor assistance of $18.6 billion to Africa
in 2000 (Africa Recovery, Jan 2004; p.16).
Here is a breakdown of how Africa loses money:
Corruption $148 billion
Capital Flight $20 billion
Expenditures on Arms and Military $15 billion
Civil War Damage $15 billion
Food Imports $18 billion
Total Other Leakages $216 billion
Recall that NEPAD seeks $64 billion from the West in investments.
However, from the table, if Africa could feed itself, if the senseless
wars raging on the continent would cease, if the elites would invest
their wealth -B legitimate or ill-gotten C in Africa, and if
expenditures on arms and the military are reduced, Africa could find
with itself the resources it needs for investment. In fact, more
resources can be found if corrupt leaders would disgorge the loot they
have stashed abroad -B a condition we previously established for debt
relief. This constitutes the new way of looking at the investment issue:
Plugging the leakages and repatriating booty hoarded abroad.
Moses, foreign aid from all sources amount to $19 billion a year.
Foreign investment into Africa totals $5 billion. Total leakages from
Africa's begging bowl amount to $216 billion. Where and how should
Africa get more resources to resolve conflicts and develop?