What African countries need, the West cannot give. In a word, what Africans need is personal liberty. That means a political system where there are guarantees of private property rights and rule of law. It's almost a no-brainer. The "2003 Index of Economic Freedom," published by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, lists Botswana, South Africa and Namibia as "mostly free." World Bank 2002 country per capita GDP rankings put Botswana 89th ($2,980), South Africa 94th ($2,600) and Namibia 111th ($1,700). Is there any mystery why they're well ahead of their northern neighbors, such as Mozambique 195th ($210), Liberia 201st ($150) or Ethiopia 206th ($100)?
The lack of liberty means something else: A nation loses its best and most mobile people first. According to the 2000 census, there were 881,300 African-born U.S. residents. They're doing well in our country, and many are professionals sorely needed back home. While in attendance at a Washington, D.C., Nigerian affair, some years ago, I listened while the Nigerian ambassador admonished the mostly Nigerian audience to come back home. At the table where I was sitting, my Nigerian hosts broke out in near uncontrollable laughter.