Early this year, my former student from the University of Nottingham, Anthony Demetriou emailed me with information of a summit organized by a think tank, Legatum Institute, to be held in Dar-es-Salaam. He thought it would have been best for me to attend it if in Dar. I blocked the dates. So on the 20th and 21st May2015 I did attend the summit.
I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the summit. It had a great line of speakers from various countries in Africa as well as outside Africa. The conference discussed in details the Africa Prosperity Report (2014) as well as Prosperity Indexes. In addition, there were parallel panels covering various issues of innovation, business, and security in reference to prosperity. There was also lots of testimonials and information sharing from different social entrepreneurs (I don’t know where this phrase social entrepreneur came from- not sure if I like it, but I see it’s almost a “fashion” now).
Overall, I thought the line of thinking in the conference was neoliberal and of course on the right side. To be honest, that is not always my cup of tea. Nevertheless I’m ever ready to learn and engage. The keynote speaker, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili was very fluent and energitic. I loved her take on the historical trends in Africa, which set an excellent context in understanding the current Africa’s position in the global neoliberal order. I particularly loved her standpoint that Africa prosperity will come with citizens participating and benefitting from the growth. However, I was very much disturbed by her example of Ethiopia and the Chinese leather factory. Before anything, I thought it contradicted her arguments on people’s/ citizen’s prosperity. She narrated that the Chinese company moved from China to Ethiopia because labor costs became high in China as Chinese laborers started to demand for their rights and higher rates. When the factory moved to Ethiopia it doubled its profits because the salaries it paid were very low. For me that is exploitation. I, of course, asked Dr. Oby to clarify. Her answer was very similar to one of my IPE (International Political Economy) students at the University of Nottingham in 2012. At the class we were discussing about Maquiladoras in Mexico and the sweatshops, and one student said “at least the Mexicans have jobs…” ouch such justifications are really wrong, because I believe two wrongs does not make one wrong right! I believe profits that are made out of low salaries are unethical and do not ensure prosperity for all. They are exploitative and if anything, they lead to more inequality.
Well, out of current research interests- Comparative Education Policy- I was very much impressed with the rich discussion on education in the conference. Although the focus was much on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and ICT, I was still happy with the fact that all speakers insisted on the education.
Nevertheless, my very inner me, which is still in love with its first discipline love- International Relations, got into climax of joy on the discussion on Terrorism as the new security threat in Africa. More impressively, the person who talked about it, is a renowned diplomat- Ambassador Dr. Augustine Mahiga, who was the Tanzanian Permanent Representative to the UN and also the UN Secretary General Special Envoy to Somalia.
In this brief entry, I will outline some of the points from Dr. Mahiga that I think they are worthy sharing with my blog readers. Terrorism, as I’ve said it earlier, is a nascent issue in Africa and if we are not careful it will get entrenched. So let’s get some basic ideas on it:
What is Terrorism?
Four aspects of terrorism:
- A political organization
- An ideological organization
- A criminal organization
- A military type of operation affecting society
Within the framework of the above four aspects, terrorism seeks to bring about a new ideology to change society. Terrorists want to capture the state through radicalization. It seeks to discredit the government and it seeks to also discredit the security institutions of the country.
Causes of Terrorism
- Lack of economic and social amenities
- It’s beyond religious radicalization – i.e. it’s a total transformation of mind of an individual
Terrorism tries to capture the attention of and recruit a particular group in society that is susceptible to isolation and complain- i.e. mostly the youth
- Education- since terrorism seeks to provide alternative ideology and ideas to transform mind, education (formal and informal- i.e. the message we give to the society) is the best way to counter such ideas promulgated by terrorists
- Addressing of its organizational aspects- especially the criminal aspect, which is often the sources of funding
- Military option – this should come later at later stage.
On the same line of terrorism and security, I will also mention a discussion about issues of urbanization in relations to security. Urbanization.
A speaker from World Bank-Tanzania office spoke about urbanization in Dar-es-Salaam. He showed how there’s a lack of city plan despite the higher rate of population growth in Dar. The speaker illustrated how a clear line separating the rich and the poor (“US” vs. “THEM” ) is being formed in Dar. When he finished giving this scary illustration, I immediately thought this is the security issue because conflict may arise in the near future due to such social divisions that are relatively a new phenomenon in Tanzania. So I asked the theoretical kinda question, whether we should classified this urbanization with lack of city plan as a security issue (in the eyes of the New Security Agenda- i.e. widened security) but (unfortunately) the speaker answered “urbanization is not a security issues, it’s a development issue”. I decided not to continue…BUT THEN I knew I only fit into purely academic conference such as ISA, BISA, PSA, etc…BUT it’s a lesson for me to loosen up and start learning how to interact more in non-academic discussions where the real world exists.
Overall, Legutum Institute did a great summit. I hope leaders and policy makers in Africa will take advantage of the indexes and make evidence informed decisions. The benefit of using data could not be further emphasized.