DECLINING aid from the developed countries to Africa following the ongoing global financial crisis which has taken its toll in Europe is a blessing in disguise, former president, Mr Benjamin Mkapa said.
In a key note speech to launch Uongozi Institute's roundtable discussion on Development Meets Business held in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, Mr Mkapa said declining aid will help African countries strive for self reliance, statehood and dignity.
"Such aid decline is good because it will help African nations find ways of running their economies," said Mkapa who served as president between 1995 and 2005, attracting more foreign investment and development assistance through his prudent market based policies.
He said Africa and its western partners have had a dependent relationship dating back to colonial times, but that despite 40 years of donations from the developed world, key development challenges remain.
He emphasised that the future between the continent which has over one billion people and its donors is to engage as partners with equal resources to trade.
"With discoveries of oil and gas resources, the continent is now a choice destination for investors," the former president who is also co-Chair of Investment Climate Facility noted, saying ICF has done many projects to remove barriers to business growth to allow private investments which spur growth.
"Public private partnerships are new vehicles for development which should be encouraged," he noted.Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Abdallah Kigoda said in his welcoming remarks to the former president that Africa including Tanzania is quickly moving from natural resources extracting economy to industrial manufacturing.
"The continent is poised for a bright future because according to statistics, a half of the world's fastest growing economies are in Africa," Dr Kigoda noted. He said the continent and country need to be careful while signing trade and investment agreements with the developed world and multinational corporations.
The South Centre's Executive Director, Martin Khor commended Finland for starting the centre to solve North South differences in the wake of globalisation. "Uongozi Institute is one of the Helsinki Process outcomes which is helping address differences between the North and South," Mr Khor noted.
He said formerly, people felt that development is impeded by the private sector and later the theory changes to government regulations are an enemy to development, but currently everyone agrees that development needs interaction of the two sides plus the civil society.