Andrew Mwenda is a hard hitting in-your-face kind of journalist. He is currently on a year-long John S. Knight fellowship at Stanford University in the United States. So one of the things he immediately brought to our attention is that Sub-Saharan Africa received aid to the tune of 13% of GDP while the Marshall plan after World War 2 only gave about 2.5% to countries like Germany. One suggestion I can certainly agree with wholeheartedly is that there should be more support of research into Africa. The funding of research will allow for a much better understanding of African issues from the ground up and not speculation from a distance. According to Andrew some African countries are allowed duty free exports into the European Union for goods like sugar and beef but to date none has taken advantage of this.
What is sorely lacking is a institutional and policy framework. The problems are reinforced in that governments find it easier to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund rather then their own citizens! And all of this continues to lead to tension. It’s difficult to capture the full range of what was discussed by Andrew because of his breath of knowledge and the deep conviction with which he elucidates his points.
The first session ended with a short video message from the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, just before her G8 meeting, thanks to U2’s Bono. She is current the president of the G8.