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“Africa: The New Chapter” Talks in TED Radio Hour

All speakers at the TED-talks highlighted the major issues of the African continent that are detaining its growth and development. These issues include poor infrastructure and immature institutions, the influence of aid industry and low quality of trading relations. Nevertheless, the speakers suggest their views on possible solutions to the stated problems, and their ideas definitely should not be underestimated.

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To begin with, Elena Gabre-Madhin (2007) discusses one aspect of the problem of freedom. From her point of view, lack of choice equals to the lack of freedom, and Africans suffer from not having trading opportunities and, hence, choices at the market. The core of the problem is in the absence of essential market institutions, standards, and trustworthy communication system between buyers and sellers. As a result, Africa has the highest transaction costs for goods, the highest price volatility of food crops, and only a third of agricultural output produced locally even reaches the market.

The most reasonable solution now is in the reorganization of the African trading industry. Gabre-Madhin (2007) claims that Africa is learning and is about to change, and offers an exchange trading system that will suit the current African ecosystem. Of course, various conditions are necessary to build a healthy and growing market. However, the idea of exchange trading might be successful, as it has precedent positive experience in other continents. Besides, it is extremely important that it is Africans, not the foreign experts, who work on this development program. Only they can adjust the innovations to the needs of the society.

Other speakers also emphasized the importance of asking Africans about their opinion, instead of consulting international specialists. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (2007) made a point that African countries do not have public opinion institutions or opinion research centers. Without knowing what people want the reforms cannot be made effectively. Working out this gap might be useful to understand what kind of private investment flows is necessary and what does the society need to create a productive environment.

Moreover, the job issue remains among the most critical ones. Governments do not manage to provide people with an adequate number of jobs at the market, and this is exactly what leads to the greater problems, such as famine and poverty, that are usually covered by media. All speakers underlined the necessity of improving the organization of governmental institutions, as now they suffer from “poor institutional and policy framework” (Andrew Mwenda, 2007).

Another important point was stressed by Andrew Mwenda, who believes that international aid is currently of no help for African countries. Media coverage appeals to sympathy and pity, which leads to massive charity. However, Mwenda (2007) states that there is “a challenge of creating wealth, not the challenge of poverty reduction.” Wealth comes from income, which is based on having a trading opportunity or a job. Hence, we see the need to support entrepreneurs and research institutions. Besides, effective application of aid is possible only when cooperation exists and corresponds to the demands of people. Without it, the problem of African unproductivity will keep existing.

To sum up, businesses in Africa are seeking an opportunity, not charity. General cooperation problem is in the center of this failing public administration system, and it is up to the Africans to find solutions that would fit their environment and would forward the aid industry in the right direction. Thus, the combination of all the factors mentioned can lead to prosperity.

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Mwenda, A. (2007). Andrew Mwenda: Aid for Africa? No thanks.

Gabre-Madhin, E. (2007). Elena Gabre-Madhin: A commodities exchange for Ethiopia .

Okonjo-Iweala, N. (2007). Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Aid versus trade.

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