A Professor of history at the Harvard University, Emmanuel Akyeampong, has warned that Africa’s quest for development will fail unless the continent learns to adequately feed itself first.
Speaking to the press after his Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial lecture at the University of Ghana, Prof. Akyeampong bemoaned Africa’s dependence on food aid from the West and China when it has vast arable lands.
He proposed an industrialized economic structure driven by agribusiness as Africa’s key to development.
“We can’t feed ourselves; we are dependent on food imports and on food aid. Countries outside Africa including China and Arab countries are very interested in Africa land because they are concerned about their own food security. We are people who beg while we are holding a golden bowl. We sit on all these lands and mineral resources that people are looking at.”
“I think we have to first of all begin by feeding ourselves and by bringing agriculture to that level of efficiency so that agriculture begins to provide that first line of agric-based business. In Africa, what we are seeing is a decline in agriculture. We are more inefficient as farmers today than we were at the colonial days yet we seem not only to have declined in agriculture, we have skipped manufacturing to go into service – telecommunications, cell phones, media and all that. I have also pointed out that no country has developed by skipping manufacturing.”
Prof. Emmanuel Akyeampong also called for rural infrastructure to support mechanized agriculture; something he says the government of Ghana is exploring.
Prof. Akyeampong made the remark ahead of his presentation at the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial lecture at the University of Ghana on Friday, on the theme: “African socialism; or the search for an indigenous model of economic development in Ghana?”