How To Help, Save or Develop Africa (Part 1): The Background

On June 14, President Barak Obama unveiled a 4-pillar development strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa. They are:
1. Strengthen Democratic Institutions
2. Spur Economic Growth, Trade, and Investment
3. Advance Peace and Security
4. Promote Opportunity and Development

Each of the broad categories has five sub-objectives, except the fourth, which has six, making a total of twenty-one. However, before we assess whether this strategy will work or not, a little history would be useful. But first, a principle which is relevant in these matters.

Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor is a principle attributed to a logician and Franciscan friar called William in the English village of Ockham in the 14th century. His commanding credo was SIMPLICITY and the principle he enunciated later became known as “the principle of unnecessary plurality.” Over the centuries, that principle has been given various interpretations. Among them are:

• For every complicated problem, there is a SIMPLE solution.
• If you have two competing theories that make exactly the same prediction, the SIMPLE one is better.
• The KISS principle – Keep it simple, stupid

Over the past 30 years or more, various efforts have been made by Western donors, the international community, international financial institutions and African leaders themselves — ranging from rock concerts to grand initiatives – to save or develop Africa. They all fell flat on their faces because they applied the “Reverse Occam’s Razor.” Convoluted and grandiose mega-plans collapsed under the weight of their own internal contradictions and complexity.

Author: Nanjira

Perched at the intersection of tech & governance, media, culture.