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29.04.2004 Business & Finance

Foreign investment not solution to Africa's problems

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Accra, April 28, GNA - Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Chief Executive of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Wednesday, said 400 years of foreign investment in developing African countries had only made African economies and peoples worse off and poorer.

He likened Africa's development partners to "poultry farmers, who only feed the fowls to be fat and healthy enough for dinner and not for the fowls own survival."

"The so-called development partners have for the past 400 years given poor African countries only enough aid to keep us in shape enough for them to continue milking us of our natural resources and riches," he said.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, who is also the President of the Ghana Heart Foundation, was speaking in the first of a series of three lectures in the maiden "Excellence in Leadership Lecture", organised by a team of Christian organisations led by the Accra Chapel Trust. The lecture, on the theme: "Contemporary Leadership Crisis within the African Continent, the Ghanaian Experience," was to elaborate on the leadership crisis facing African countries and to evolve possible solutions to them. The topic for the first lecture was Leadership Crisis in Africa.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said after 400 years of the failure of foreign investment not aid to lift African countries out of the doldrums of poverty, it was sad that African leaders continued to believe that foreign investment was the solution to Africa's problems. He said the so-called development partners had consistently come up with strategies under names like Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), HIPC, New Partnership for Africa's Developments (NEPAD) and others, only to continue to make African countries forever indebted to them and forever their economic slaves.

He said, "NEPAD is worse than the SAP" adding that, "NEPAD is the beginning of the total enslavement of African countries."

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng noted that there were several safety nets provide in the SAP, which did not exist in the NEPAD, adding that NEPAD was also silent on very vital issues of concern to African countries, which was indicative of it diabolic intentions.

"Under NEPAD, for instance, a vital utility like water is supposed to be supplied with private partnership and there is no way that private partnership would be pre-dominantly for Africans," he said. "Since Africans lack the technology and the funds to be partners in water supply, it is obvious that, that condition in the NEPAD would only favour foreign companies who would takeover our water supply systems and make life unbearable for our people."

He noted that Ghana for instance spends four billion cedis to pay 100,000 foreign expatriates every year for services they render to the country, "and yet there are over 250,000 Ghanaian experts working outside the country, who can do what the expatriates do better for less, but our leaders are not interested in our own peoples' prosperity." He said in recent times, the strategy of developed countries was to use what they called "credit worthiness", as a criterion for giving loans to poor African countries, adding that that condition actually was meant to find countries where they could easily invest and make more than they invested.

"Whatever they give to us as loans and grant are only a fraction of the million they make from us every year," he said "In Tanzania for instance, the biggest mineral resource earns the country only 14 million dollars a year, but foreign investors who mine that mineral earn as much as 300 million dollars per year from it."

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said it was sad that in Africa today, citizens rated the performance or non-performance of governments on the grounds of how much foreign investment a particular government was able to attract during its term of office.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said the prosperity of African countries did not lie in foreign investment, but in the technology, knowledge and effective leadership.

"We need leaders who would put the economic survival of our people ahead of the economic survival of some development partners like we have in African countries now," he said.

He said unless the problems of institutionalised corruption, the lack of technology and selfish leadership were addressed "there is no way we can be on the road to wealth creation."

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng noted that African leader had not lived up to expectation, as far as their political campaign promises were concerned, adding that more often than not, when such leaders realised that time was running out on them, the resorted to embezzling public funds to enrich themselves before leaving office.

"Our people have come to a point to realise that it is not worth sacrificing anymore for the future of one's country, because the very leaders who tell us to sacrifice, end up enriching themselves and their families at the expense of the masses," he said. "For all the time African peoples have sacrificed, their lives have been worse off." He said it was high time African leaders looked beyond the next elections and worked to put their respective countries on the road to wealth creation.

"In Ghana, we have to realise that the survival of our economy and of our people goes beyond NPP and NDC," he said' "We need more than political independence to survive." 28 April 04