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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March 2005, 12:09 GMT
Commission for Africa: Trevor Simumba
BBC News website asked Africans living on the continent for their thoughts on the UK-led Commission for Africa's final report.

Godwin
Godwin Emejuobi:
Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Kasozi
Kasozi Lubega:
Kampala, Uganda

Ousman
Ousman Njie:
Cairo, Egypt

Samantha
Samantha Smit:
Lusaka, Zambia
Iqbal
Iqbal Jhazbhay:
Pretoria, South Africa

Yared
Yared Mussie:
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Trevor
Trevor Simumba:
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Amboka
Amboka Wameyo:
Arusha, Tanzania

Trevor Simumba

I urge all Africans to remember that it is not the outside world that will solve our problems. We have to solve our problems ourselves with help from the outside world.

MEET THE PANEL
Trevor Simumba (Freetown, Sierra Leone)
Name: Trevor Maliwanda Simumba
Age: 34
Lives: Freetown, Sierra Leone
Occupation: International Trade Expert, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Sierra Leone govt.
Born: Lusaka, Zambia
Religion: Christian
Ethnic group: Namwanga
In 10 words or less: Hardworking and patriotic. I love travel, music and watching soccer

I fear that much of the responsibility in the Commission for Africa's report falls on the developed countries.

One of the biggest problems in Africa is that our infrastructure is so poor.

We don't have proper linkages within Africa regarding information, communication and transport. We don't have enough trade within the continent itself.

And so the Commission's recommendations will only make our problems worse in terms of our economic and trade development because all the actions are highly dependent on what the West does.

I would rather have seen a more balanced situation. For example, in terms of corruption and accountability it leans much more on the rich countries taking action.

Corruption is a two-way process but the majority of it is on our side, not the West's.

In Africa people join politics to make money, rather than to serve.

Mr Blair should speak to young Africans like me who do not carry any baggage from the past on our shoulders

If we don't deal with these real issues then we will just be reinventing the same ideas.

Improving communication in Africa will develop the continent.

Cellphones (mobile telephones) create employment just through the selling of top-up cards and better business opportunities will arise if communications are reliable and easy.

Cellphones are very expensive here and the waiting lists to get one are so long.

It can take up to six months to apply for one.

African governments must surrender control over the telecommunications sector.

Cellphones can provide a lot of employment, a lot of revenue for the government and can also open up many parts of countries that are closed off at the moment.

This is the information age and if we could get it right we would go a long way.

People need to deal with practical issues like how to communicate and travel within the continent for less than it costs to do so with and to the West.

Right now it costs more to fly from Freetown in Sierra Leone to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso than it does to fly to London.

An airline ticket costs US$1,800. How many Africans can afford that?

African voices: See where our panel live

It is good that the Commission has made a start but for us Africans it is important that recommendations are practical and also that we are honest enough to admit our mistakes.

We must be able to move on instead of hiding behind words.

The Commission's report has identified the problems and so moving forwards we need to engage the people of Africa much more on the ground.

Talking to politicians is not the best way forward.

Instead business persons must be consulted. Businesses and organisations on the ground can bring about immediate change.

We can come up with practical solutions to provide economic development.

Africa must be opened up first to trade with each other. Africa only accounts for 4% of world trade and even if you look at trade amongst African countries it is very low. Most of our trade is with Europe or America.

We need to deal with regional integration - how do we get Africa to do business with Africa so that we are in a stronger position?

Finally we need to deal with leadership

A new breed of Africans needs to be heard and so I hope that the Commission leads to the involvement of a young and new generation of leaders.


Your comments:

Trevor, I salute you for making such a realistic point. We must take up our own responsibilities and not to be totally dependent on donors. It is a shame that we are entirely dependent on help from donors which in fact benefit only a few unreliable, greedy and inhumane ones across Mother Africa.

It is only young, dynamic and concerned Africans like us, who can make a whole lot of difference for helpless men, women and children across the continent. I would like to leave you with this quote from Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
Binneh S Minteh, New York University, USA

I totally agree with you Trevor that we Africans need to solve our own problems rather than expecting the West to do it for us. Economic development among the African countries will make us strong but this is not the only problem. Our leaders must stop fighting for leadership. Wars have crippled most of African countries to poverty.

The leaders need to let young ones manage the nation. Corruption is the main disease now. I cannot imagine that Sierra Leone, with fields of diamonds and only a population of less than 5m is the poorest country in the world with the worst mortality rate. Africa must wake up and do things for themselves instead of being beggars.
Regina Sulla, Kampala, Uganda

Hi Trevor. I am glad to come across your continued effort to stimulate lively debate on important issues affecting development on Africa. The windows of opportunities for championing reform in Africa are likely to get thinner in the future and therefore I hope we can ride the momentum created by the Commission for Africa and take several steps forward. Best Regards,
Thilasoni Chikwanda, Lusaka, Zambia

I agree with Trevor's main points. We Africans need to start talking to ourselves and cooperating amongst ourselves. The basic facts of the problems are well known. Corruption, greed and selfishness that put individuals' needs above the national needs have to go.

People like Bill Gates make money and spend it to help others, but our leaders in Africa take money and hide them away in western countries while our people live in poverty. This must stop if we are to achieve the goals.
Billy Simbo, Willow Grove, PA, USA (ex Sierra Leone)

I think this will succeed if it is honestly followed up. I really welcome it. But the most critical aspect of this is trade access into the western markets. No matter the level of good governance, fight against corruption, no progress will be made without access to markets, both internal and external. Removal of subsidies in Europe and US in agricultural goods should be the goal of this commission.

This should be the way I believe a hungry man could be encouraged to fish for himself instead of begging for one whenever he is hungry. Also very importantly, the Americans should be persuaded to join this effort. Africa is tired of their tradition of flooding the continent with over-subsidized goods. Americans should be told that this is the time to show their large heart, instead of those Hollywood-style aid droppings whenever there is a hunger problem in Africa.

Africans should be helped in building their capacity to tackle their various problems. African leaders should know on their own part that heaven helps only those that help themselves. If you have nothing to offer in international politics, nobody will take you serious. Today Americans and Europeans are discussing with Iran, North Korea and China.

Africa should be prepared to take extreme measures if peaceful means fail. We cannot accept to be loosing too many people in the continent every day to aids, hunger and diseases which are all signs of poverty, while some people are keeping us down with their criminal trade rules.
Madu Onyekachi, Owerri, Nigeria




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