Absence of political infrastructure bane of Africa’s development – Retired Diplomat

Accra, Sept. 7, GNA – Although African countries have the prerogative to innovate development models that suit their peculiar circumstances, it is important they remain mindful of universal principles such as equality of all before the law, press freedom, human rights, free and fair elections and good governance.

Ambassador Dr Mahmoud Farghal, a former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Egypt who made the observation explained that those ideals/principles were essential not only for the sustenance of peace and stability, but also for the establishment of a just society.

The retired diplomat was delivering a lecture on the topic, ‘Management of Peace and Security in Africa’ at a training course on Media and Conflict held in Cairo, Egypt for 20 journalists drawn from 12 African countries.

The programme was organised by the Cairo Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa with funding from the Government of Japan through the office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Egypt.

Ambassador Farghal attributed Africa’s seemingly incessant conflicts to the lack of political maturity stemming from the absence of political infrastructure, among other factors.

Political maturity has to do with the stability and effectiveness of state institutions, as well as a nation’s ability to deal with internal problems before they degenerate into open conflicts, he explained.

Other causes include the absence of vibrant civil society organisations, vibrant free press regime, strong private sector and an efficient public sector.

‘Political parties in most African countries have become more powerful than civil society institutions and corruption has become difficult to tackle, all because of the absence of the requisite political infrastructure both to prevent and to prosecute it’, he stated.

Ambassador Farghal traced the absence of political infrastructure in African countries to events in the immediate post-independence era, indicating that the torch-bearers of Africa’s independence were mainly charismatic leaders who spent the time in office trying to consolidate their newly won freedom and were therefore unable to lay down structures for long-term development before they left the scene.

Then came a string of military coups and dictatorship that destabilised those countries and rendered the development of political infrastructure impossible.

On the contrary, he said, the leaders of Asian countries including India, Malaysia, China, and Singapore were able to build strong institutions that catapulted those states to socio-economic development.

As to the way forward, Ambassador Farghal urged governments in Africa to focus on the building of ‘strong institutions that work’ and the developing of checks and balance systems that would promote good governance.

The retired diplomat pointed out that every nation on the continent had its own peculiar circumstances and went through different challenges in the pursuit of development, with the exception of a few similarities here and there.

He further indicated that the development challenges of industrialised nations may not necessarily be the same as those experienced by African countries, so there could be no single ‘one-size fits all’ avenue to development for everyone.

‘However, Africa and the West need each other to be able to realise their developmental aspirations’, he emphasised.

By Mohammed Nurudeen Issahaq (Back from Cairo, Egypt)


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