December 05, 2016

Source: Bigstock

Pro-American sentiment among ordinary black Africans has been fueled by the massive influx of Chinese into the continent. They have been welcomed in their droves by corrupt national leaders because they are not squeamish about human rights and related trivia and they are happy to cut deals that suit the hierarchy. In return they have a license to plunder in many countries, which they perform with alacrity in the extraction of natural resources from minerals to timber to ivory and rhino horn. Unsurprisingly, the people of Africa generally loathe them.

Hundreds of millions of people living in wretched poverty desperately want to see a higher American profile closer to home, but their leaders are less enthusiastic. They have become very used to large dollops of unconditional “€œaid,”€ which is then siphoned off to pay the bloated bureaucracies and the security services that buttress their positions of power.

Also disinclined to see change are their “€œpartners in crime,”€ the mandarins of the “€œaid business,”€ who certainly will not embrace any messing with the status quo. Global charities like Oxfam, whose well-paid officials “€œat home”€ and in Africa have developed well-salaried careers on the backs of the starving and brutalized tribespeople of Africa, seem comfortable with chronic poverty.

Armed with the prospect that American intervention will be welcomed by the masses,
Trump needs to be bold, bust the old mold, fly the Union flag high, and tell the autocrats presently despoiling the continent that the days of unconditional largesse fueled by misplaced guilt are over. He must tell the leaders of Africa it is they who have made a monumental mess of governing the place, and the only way to effect real change is to put capable people in place in both the public and private sectors. The short answer to the next despot who arrives in Washington looking for some cash to pay his bloated civil service is to tell them the gravy train has hit a wall and from now on they can have help in the form of humanitarian expertise and money on the strictest of terms, tied tightly to good governance.

He needs to remind them and the world that Americans, along with their institutions, have built the greatest country in history, and they have boundless potential to replicate this feat in foreign lands. In short, what Africa desperately needs is American acumen and energy deployed into the public and private sectors, and recovery will commence as the plunder of resources and revenues starts to be reversed. His administration must insist on infusing skilled officials into organs of state with specific mandates and tasks, and a critical first step to recovery is reached through improving the civil service.

The second and equally important target is the private sector. In Africa it is really only the mammoth multinationals that can afford to buy the needed political patronage to break through the rigorous red tape and graft that go with it and manage to function. But in return for mining and other concessions, much of the revenue is externalized, bringing marginal benefit to the country. The “€œlittle guy,”€ the small-time entrepreneur who wants to start a business in Africa, usually finds himself in the suffocating clutches of corrupt bureaucrats who present a regulatory minefield that sucks the zeal out of the endeavor. The potential investor loses, the country loses, and so do the people who may have gained employment. America is awash with skilled people who could contribute and prosper in Africa given the chance, and they hold the key to economic growth. The new administration has to break this barrier and find a formula to make access easier for these people, giving them the protection they need to have a decent chance of success and security regarding the rewards of their labors.

The new president’s job will not be easy, and he will have to be both bold and firm, but the rewards could be staggering. The tragedy of Africa is that so much talent and energy, combined with a deep desire to have a chance to work, is wasted almost entirely because of egregious misrule, and this has to stop.

America needs to be blunt and explain to Africans that they cannot all come to the United States, but some of America can come to them. Africans everywhere will rejoice, and the first flush of a golden dawn will signal hope for the emergence of the Continent from its long, dark night.


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