is bright, provided there is constructive and sustainable change
in strategic areas of political and economic development.
This view was expressed by Dr. Constance Berry Newman, Assistant
Administrator (Africa) in the United States Agency for International
Development. Dr. Newman delivered the 2002 Patricia Roberts Harris
Lecture, before a capacity audience, in the School of Business Auditorium
on April 11.
In her address, titled "Africas Future: Dark, Dim or
Bright," the U.S. government chief economic assistance official
for Africa discussed several "myths" commonly associated
with Africa and then outlined three "imperatives" to dispel
the myths and bring about constructive change on the continent.
Myths, Dr. Newman said, include notions of unending poverty and
corruption, lack of leadership and cultural heritage; tribal, ethnic,
and religious differences that are irreconcilable; the total absence
of democracy on the continent; and the total lack of economic growth
anywhere in Africa over the past decade.
Point by point, Dr. Newman
refuted these notions,
pointing, for example, to differences among various countries; citing
the existence of natural resources that make Africa "rich,
not poor," and highlighting cultural traditions "all too
often overlooked." She also observed that "the best and
fastest strategy to reduce the prevalence of civil war in Africa
and prevent future civil wars is to institute democratic reforms
that effectively manage the challenges facing diverse societies."
The USAID official cited several indices of economic growth in
Africa over the past decade, identifying Botswana in particular
as "a success story" and indicating significant developments
in American trade in recent years with such countries as Uganda,
Ghana, and Botswana.
USAID, she said, was encouraging these trends with support to agriculture,
basic education, and democratization. The Africa Bureaus economic
assistance budget at one billion dollars is the largest ever, Newman
asserted, and it is designed to enable Americans to work with African
leaders "who have a common vision that it is their duty to
and to place their
countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable
growth and development."
Newmans three "imperatives" included African leaders
taking responsibility for the continents future; substantial
additional funds from developed countries to aid development; and
recognition by donors of African countries as "full partners"
in all areas, foreign affairs trade, and generally "as respected
equals." If Africa is to have a bright future, she concluded,
"we must discredit the myths and fulfill the imperatives."
Dr. Constance Berry Newman, Assistant
Administrator (Africa) of the U.S. Agency for
International Development, delivers the
Annual Patricia Roberts Harris Lecture in
Public Affairs on April 11, 2002.