(Week 4): Emerging Africa and the End of Poverty

PART I

George Ayittey is a noted Ghanian scholar and the person who coined the phrase “Cheetah Generation” when describing Africa’s next generation.  Ayittey says that the “cheetah generation” is “not defined by age, gender, education, or location” (Radlet, 126). What he argues sets this generation apart is “their commitment and their drive to break from the past and move their countries in a new direction..who look at African issues and problems from a totally unique perspective” (126).The older “hippo generation”  in contrast is seen as “stuck in the past complaining about colonialism and imperialism (127). Where as the newer cheetah generation is an “emerging class of entrepreneurs and leaders” they are focused on “transparency, accountability, good governance, respect for basic human rights, and private sector economic opportunities (127).  The Cheetah generation is working to “position Africa as uniquely Africa” not held back by Western mandates or tied to nationalist pedagogy. 

The “Big Man Generation”  is not a phrase uncommon to many African countries’s recent history.  “Big Men” in this context means leaders that were elected in Africa promising accountable democratic governments, but once these leaders were elected they used and abused the system and did not fulfill any of the promises they made previous to their election.  Often the governments under these “Big Man” leaders turned toward into dictatorships or militant governments. 

This new Cheetah Generation holds a lot of promise for Africa’s future. In this new generation there are successful leaders and entrepreneurs. Many people of the Cheetah Generation “combine fresh ideas, entrepreneurship, technology, and just plain energy” (Radlet, 129).

Cheetahs are particular important to demonstrating a difference in democracy and civil society in many African countries.  Amadou Ba of Senegal is one example of a up-and-coming leader of the Cheetah Generation.

He is the president and co-founder of AllAfrica.com, which is the largest online aggregator and distributor of news from sub-Saharan Africa, and is currently affiliated with over 140 news organizations from around the world. Ba also works as the acting executive director of the African Media Initiative, and hopes that the Initiative plays a prominent role in the future of African media.

Amara Koneh is an example of the Cheetah Generation’s involvement in forming sustainable, accountable, and strong governments.  When he was 20 years old he became a refugee of the Liberian civil war. He was able to attend University in the United States, but wanted to get involved in the 2005 presidential election in Liberia, after the end of the Civil War.  After working on a presidential campaign he eventually became the minister of planning in Liberia, one of the youngest ministers in all of Africa at the age of 38.

His staff is young and smart and they are working to develop “strategies for growth and poverty reduction and to change relationships with donors, NGOs and others supporting those strategies”  (131).Konneh’s involvement and strategy are just one example of how many sub-Saharan African countries are helping national development and working towards strengthening and making good use of NGOs through the leadership of the Cheetah Generation.

In the Cheetah Generation gender biases of the past are changing, women are becoming more able and likely to move into higher-profile public and private positions. A crucial aspect of the Cheetah Generation has been the shifting gender paradigms, and an increased focus on women and girls which has allowed more opportunities for women to enter into traditionally “masculine” occupations and roles.  “The education and professionalization of women adds a whole new dimension to the available skilled workforce” effectively doubling Africa’s human capital potential.

PART II

In “The End of Poverty”  Jeffrey Sachs discusses major issues and problems plaguing developing/emerging countries.  Among these issues he discusses the following:

Cover of The End of Poverty by Jeffrey D. Sachs (source: amazon.com)

Cover of The End of Poverty by Jeffrey D. Sachs (source: amazon.com)

Natural Resource Decline: Goods cannot be produced by villages when the people are unable to afford or sustain fertilizer for their farms.  Proper fertilizer and nutrients are needed to replenish the ground to be able to sustain plants because the ground/soil loses nutrients.

Adverse Productivity Shock: Sub-Saharan Africa is liable to extreme, dry weather which can include heat waves, droughts, and dangerous weather that might increase the harm of malaria.  If any of the above occur because of the lack of infrastructure and preparedness an Sub-Saharan African country may experience the effects of one of these disasters for an extended period of time years if not decades.

Lack of Savings : People cannot save their money because they are trying to survive by any means, especially difficult if a household is suffering from food insecurity, illness, or chronic hunger.

Absence of Trade: Areas of extreme poverty are often remote in location or are locked in because of nearby violence and lack the infrastructure to support basic functions.  Because of this lack of infrastructure and isolation the people in this area might not be able to trade with surrounding areas for goods.

Technological Reversal:  In many Sub-Saharan African countries the oldest children are responsible for taking care of the rest of the family, especially since HIV/AIDS has caused so much death in the region.  However, it is not uncommon for the oldest child to not have been taught or properly trained to farm depending on the goods the village produces. This lack of education in farming procedures and technology reverses the progress of the village since more people are dependent on the crop than productive.

Using data and profiles provided by the World Bank I have chosen three of Sachs diagnostic checks from the diagnostics checklist in the End of Poverty to evaluate current conditions in Kenya and Rwanda.

Kenya

Kenya Map and Flag (source: wikipedia.org)

Kenya Map and Flag (source: wikipedia.org)

Physical Geography: Kenya faces potential risks in natural disasters due to their physical geography.  These include landslides and mudslides experienced in the long rainy season in the central province of Kenya.  The country’s inland areas are largely arid. Two-thirds of the country receive less than 500 mm of rainfall in a year this leaves the country susceptible to drought and with limited use of agriculture.

Governance Patterns: The World’s Bank work in Kenya supports the government’s Vision 2030 development strategy which focuses on the aim to accelerate sustainable growth, reduce inequality, and manage resource scarcity.

Infrastructure: Kenya’ current infrastructure is poor with impassable roads, poor telecommunication lines, and inaccessible regions that hamper the transportation of food (both for commercial distribution or relief aid).

Rwanda

Rwanda Flag and Map (source: wikipedia.org)

Rwanda Flag and Map (source: wikipedia.org)

Physical Geography:  Rwanda is susceptible to both extreme rains and droughts.

Governance Patterns and Failures: Since the 1994 genocide and civil war Rwanda has achieved impressive development gains.  The World Bank supports the energy, agriculture, and transport sectors.

Infrastructure: there has been increased development and efficiency of information systems, early waning systems, and rapid intervention mechanisms in Rwanda, in part because of its high susceptibility to extreme rains.  Although further work is needed especially concerning national land and forest development plans in lowering Rwanda’s vulnerability to the effect of extreme rainfall.  To address issues with droughts, drought tolerant crop species and promotion of non-agricultural activities have been implemented in Rwanda.  Need an increase in the accessibility to health services, urban planning for housing in flood prone areas, and increased capacity of the community to subscribe to health insurance, as well for education and training program for communities.

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