We Africans must take our future in our hands

Sir

Your Editorial “Africa 2005” (Nature 433, 669; 2005) stresses that it needs to be Africans, not donors, who decide how to spend the billions of dollars Africa is to receive in aid. But money alone is not what the continent needs for sustainable development. African countries have received billions of dollars in aid and loans during the past half century, and the result is what we have today.

The continent needs good management, relevant projects and a boost to science and technology. Regional economic integration combined with increased exports of our products and competitive investments are enough to sustain economical development.

Many people in Africa are aware of the real problems and their solutions. In 2000, when the Department of Education in Rwanda negotiated scholarships with a non-governmental organization for 100 students to study in the United States, the minister of education told us that the country needs scientists and engineers.

Before coming to the United States to study computer science under this scheme, I had always thought that Africa's underdevelopment and poverty were mainly caused by Western nations through slavery, colonization and imperialism. This concept stemmed from the information I had at the time. But even if it contains some truth, I have come to realize that the current situation depends on what we Africans are doing in our continent and on our attitudes towards international exchanges.

To help poor countries is not bad. But Western nations can't help us to become as developed as they are. I share a vision with Nature and with John Mugabe, the scientific adviser to the New Partnership for Africa's Development: the future of Africa is in the hands of Africans.

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Hategekimana, J. We Africans must take our future in our hands. Nature 434, 559 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/434559b

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