Africa’s Private Sector Can Drive Continent’s Growth
The decision of African business leaders to join the fight against Ebola brings new assets and capabilities to the task. But it also underscores the limits of the traditional development model, whereby African governments have outsourced their sovereign duty to protect their citizens to international organisations.
The growing complexity of Africa’s challenges can hardly be addressed through reliance on the heroic expeditions of foreign volunteers. The outbreak shows that the response demands a level of coordination that can be effectively performed only where there are competent domestic institutions.
This is not to say that international volunteers are not needed. It simply means that their contributions will be more effective where there is local capacity to undertake sovereign duties such as providing security, protecting borders, ensuring food security and safeguarding human health.
Since independence, African countries have outsourced these functions to international organisations. As argued by Amy Sharples in her authoritative book, The Birth of Development, international organisations were created to make the best use of external assistance to improve the welfare of the poor. But their good intentions may have lulled African countries into abdicating some of their key sovereign duties.