Africa’s Inconvenient Truth

Africa’s Inconvenient Truth

‘Transparency and accountability? We can get around to those later.’


Last month, The Times Africa Correspondent Jerome Starkey used the occasion of Robert Mugabe’s 92nd birthday to shine a brief but penetrating light on two regrettable patterns: the cyclical nature of the African ‘strongman’ who ‘swaps his bush fatigue for a smart suit’ and proceeds to replace one tyranny with another under the guise of liberation; and the open arms of the foreign donors who will invariably meet him – keen for peace, and prosperity, whatever the particulars, and thrilled to find the new leader (‘such a charming man’) is ‘someone they can do business with’.


In 2013, around 6.3 million children under five – five children a minute – died from poverty related diseases, 2.9 million of them in the WHO African Region. Prosperity doesn’t trickle down from corrupt coffers. The lifeblood of democracy – the rule of law, representative government, strong institutions, and a thriving private sector – cannot be an afterthought on the path to progress, as the seminal Why Nations Fail demonstrates. As Starkey observes, ‘Africa’s march towards democracy has stalled’. Accountable aid and long-term nation building is the only way forward.


  • Learn lessons from Kofi Annan about the three pillars of a healthy and sustainable democracy: peace and security; inclusive development; rule of law and respect for human rights.

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