31.10.2009 Feature Article

“Bad Governance” The Bane of Africa’s Underdevelopment

Bad Governance The Bane of Africas Underdevelopment
31.10.2009 LISTEN

Recognizing the need to assist impoverished nations move vigorously in the area of development member states of the UN, on the 18th of September 2000, adopted the MDGs aimed at improving the social and economic conditions of the world's poorest countries. With only six years until the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDGs, there are clear and vivid evidence that Africa has been outpaced in the pursuit of these goals. Indeed, Africa has been left behind in the realization of these goals with poverty, disease and conflicts ravaging the continent.

It is beyond disputes that Africa's inability to realize these goals stems from the quality of governance in the continent. If in the face of this current global economic challenge, where governments and global leaders are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the sustainability, growth and development of their economies, Africa could not identify a single distinguished leader who has governed according to the principles of good governance, shown commitments to improving the economic and social prospects of his people and lead an exemplary government worthy of emulation to pick one of the prestigious awards of the continent, the Mo Ibrahim Award, then the issue of governance must be seriously revisited. No wonder, In President Obama maiden speech in sub-Saharan Africa he stressed that good governance is the change that can unlock Africa's potential and emphasized that it is the ingredient which has been missing in many places for far too long.

Good governance has become a catchword and has steadily entrenched itself in the development discourse that few bother to consider its implication. According to the World Bank governance is “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country's economic and social resources for development”. Africa has a large quantity of natural resources including oil, diamonds, gold, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite but bad governance has tainted these opportunities and potentials.Being the leading area for diamonds, cobalt, uranium, and many other rare minerals the continent is still wallowing in the dungeons of poverty and plague of underdevelopment. Nigeria with all the oil deposits has not inched up significantly in its developmental goals and objectives.DRC is one of the richest countries in diamonds, gold, timber cobalt yet it has little to show for them. Talk of the gold mines of Ghana, Oil fields of Sudan, Angola but yet the continent has failed to make significant impact in improving the living standards of its people. Despite the Continent's seemingly abundant resources bad governance has raided the continent of its colorful destiny. By this, the people of Ghana should know that the current oil finds will have little bearing on the socioeconomic development of the country if the present government and future governments do not embrace the tenets of good governance.

One can understand that, the enormity and complexity of, the challenges confronting the continent demands a multifaceted approach in dealing with them but the question is where exactly do we start from? Faced with all these daunting challenges; illiteracy, poverty, instability, where do we take off? The foundation of all the economic policies, poverty reduction strategies and development goals rest on good governance. Ensuring environmental sustainability requires effective and efficient governance. The key to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, rest on good governance, the catalyst to achieving universal primary education, Promoting gender equality and empowering women is good governance.

Our governments and leaders must recognize that, faced with the same economic constraints and economic marginalization in the global economic system, countries like China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea just to mention a few have spurred their economies to appreciable height even though there is still some room for improvement. Today the progress of these countries has shifted the development paradigm and the hegemony in the global economic system has taken a twist. Little did the world know that these countries could emerge economic giants, flex their economic muscles and rival the dominance of the west in the global economic system.

Africa's socioeconomic fortunes have hope but this hope will only experience result and witness development on the principles of good governance.

Credit: Daniel Akwasi Kanyam
Ohio University
Email: [email protected]