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An update from Kelly C in London

I had planned to go into work this morning, expecting to finish up with all of my writing documents. However, what I got was something much different!!

As everyone was busy today, James (my supervisor) asked me to represent africapractice at The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development: Least Developed Countries (LDC) Report 2007. (I wasn’t sure if I was their last choice and had to go because of others’ time restraints or because he knew I had a background in economics…. Either way doesn’t matter – I still went).

The conference discussed the need of technological and capital investment in Africa, rather than human development projects. In order to escape poverty in Africa, the national governments must adopt new technology policies and increase knowledge through the development of science, technology and innovation (STI).

They showed that there was a direct link between the increased technological investment and the reduction of African poverty. Furthermore, access to technology by the LDCs does not mean there will be an automatic use of it. Thus, there is a need for proper implementation and training of such technologies, especially in the industrial and farming sectors.

As I sat there, I was totally blown away. All of these economic classes finally made sense. The famous economist Adam Smith (a strong supporter/ founder of the laissez-faire theory) would roll over in his grave if he could see how the economic problems in Africa are being handled now!

Any economist will tell you the key factor of a successful economy is increased spending on capital. It seems that the only solution that is ever proposed to Africa is foreign aid/investment in education, environment, health, etc (all focusing on the human aspect). However, they have completely forgotten the key aspects to creating a successful economy.

Foundations, such as the Gates and Clinton Foundation, should provide aid to Africa through capital investment rather than human development initiatives. Securing private investments through these foundations has proven to be difficult, due to the lack of knowledge of the importance of STI. Additionally, there is a continued need for foreign businesses to invest in African firms, thus increasing the economic capacity.

So I have to wonder…. Although many human development initiatives are providing some relief in Africa, they don’t seem to be truly solving the problem. So why don’t we give something else a try?

-Kelly C.

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