Good governance crucial for African countries to succeed: Blair
If African countries individually governed themselves well‚ they can succeed‚ former UK prime minister Tony Blair said on Tuesday.
Blair‚ who was prime minister between 1997 and 2007‚ said the world was globalising like never before and the question was how Africa can get connected to the world.
Presenting an address at Monash South Africa where he was speaking about internationalisation and Africa‚ Blair said the biggest challenge depended on how well individual countries were governed.
“The countries governing themselves well and effectively‚ they can succeed. If they don’t they can’t.”
Blair looked at some examples of countries that were side by side with each other‚ roughly the same population‚ roughly the same resources and roughly the same potential.
He said one succeeded and the other failed.
Blair cited Colombia and Venezuela‚ Poland and Ukraine‚ Rwanda and Burundi‚ Botswana and Zimbabwe and North Korea and South Korea.
“All the countries which are now first world countries have reformed their systems of governance‚” Blair said.
Blair suggested that the lessons of good governance were easy to decide upon but the challenge was it was difficult to implement them.
“Most of the challenges are about practical solutions to problems which are not unique to that country‚” Blair said.
Blair said the overall picture of Africa had improved since 2005 when he put Africa at the heart of the G8 summit in Gleneagles and adopted a series of programmes to support African countries.
“The reason we focus on governments is for a very special purpose that is connected with the internationalisation of Africa. The world today works by connectivity.
“If you are open-minded‚ across the boundaries … you have got a chance of succeeding. That is how the world works‚ it is connected like never before.”
Blair said he was optimistic about Africa and its future.
“Life expectancy is up. The number of functioning democracies is significantly up‚ the middle class is set to double in the next few years.”
Blair said the world needed South Africa and Nigeria‚ two of the biggest economies in Africa‚ to succeed although there were challenges in both countries.
He said for African countries to succeed‚ they also needed to invest in power generation and supply‚ and create an environment in which business felt they could make an investment which could not be bogged down by corruption.
“If you want to attract business‚ rule of law is vital‚ as is security for all citizens.”
Health and quality education were also important.
Blair said higher education institutions had to have high standards of teaching as students were being prepared to handle the world of tomorrow.
Blair also said the relationship between countries had to change from the donor-recipient relationship to one where there was partnership.
“Donors spend a lot of time on their priorities than on the recipient countries concerned‚” Blair said.