Wade slams "mediocre" experts in African governments

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade charged here Thursday that corrupt, but more especially incompetent cadres in administration were largely to blame for the raw deals African governments often received in transactions with Western countries.
"More often than not, they are outsmarted by their western counterparts during negotiation of contracts or privatisation of State enterprises," Wade said at the opening in the Senegalese capital of a three-day first conference of intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora.
Far from a dearth in human resource, he said African countries get cheated simply because, for political expediency, their governments often sidelined competent nationals.
"The great mass of intellectuals have been kept out of the development process," Wade said, and decried the practice of rewarding political loyalty at the expense of national development.
The Senegalese leader said it was for want of officials with vision, insight and analytical competence that most African governments got little from deals with Western investors for the exploitation of oil, mineral and other natural resources.
Similarly, State-owned companies and public utilities get privatised at bids or terms far below their true value, he lamented.
"How better off than my country, Senegal are Africa's oil producing countries? They abound with such natural wealth but their people are no less miserable than rural Senegalese," Wade remarked.
"I would settle for nothing less than a 50-50 split of the earnings," he said in reference to prospects for oil exploration and production in Senegal.
Wade also castigated the tendency to "give away" State utilities in deals negotiated by incompetent cadres, recalling that he came to power in 2000 just in time to prevent such sale of the Senegalese electricity corporation (SENELEC).
He challenged intellectuals at the Dakar forum to work out ways to firm up Africa's bargaining position in crucial negotiations.
The Senegalese President suggested that the African Union (AU) should chart a common investment code applicable to all member States.

07 october 2004 17:55:00

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