Africa is the world's most natural-resources rich continent. It has 50 percent of the world's gold, most of the world's diamonds and chromium, 90 percent of the cobalt, 40 percent of the world's potential hydroelectric power, 65 percent of the manganese, and millions of acres of untilled farmland, as well as other natural resources. Before independence, every African country was self-sufficient in food production; today, many depend on imports and others stand at the brink of famine.
The only people who can solve the problems of Africa are Africans themselves. It is only they who can change their leaders, end corruption and bring about transparency in government and end the African wars. Only they can stop the continent's massive brain drain. This was brought home to me, a number of years ago, at a dinner I was invited to in honor of a new Nigerian ambassador to the United States. During his speech, he admonished the Nigerian professionals in attendance to come home to help the country develop. The Nigerians seated at my table, and nearby tables, fell into quiet laughter.
Most of what Africa needs, the West cannot give: rule of law, private property rights, fewer economic restrictions, independent judiciary and limited government. The one important thing we can do to help is to lower our trade barriers.
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