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Africa—Whatever You Thought, Think Again, the National Geographic/World Bank Presentation, Washington D.C.

Remarks by President Wolfowitz
September 8, 2005

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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  Welcome, everyone.  I'm delighted that we have such a big turnout.  It's appropriate for the occasion.  I guess we have an overflow.  I hope the people in the overflow rooms can hear adequately.

I am very pleased that we can share the stage today with our friends from National Geographic.  National Geographic is a global institution that has become a symbol for scientific feats, discovery and education.  For more than a century National Geographic has played a unique role in broadening our knowledge of the world, and they continue with this new issue today.

I would like to congratulate the editorial team of National Geographic for this special issue on Africa.  I know their commitment to Africa goes back many years.  Mike Fay, who you'll be hearing from shortly, has seen the continent from every angle, on foot and by air, and by other means of transportation.

This Africa issue, led by Chris Johns, who couldn't join us, and Oliver Payne, who will, features Mike Fay's photographic journey, and it's a testament to the tremendous energy of Africa.

I'm also pleased that the World Bank was able to partner with National Geographic to produce a full-color wall map to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals and to highlight each country's progress.  This partnership involved a lot of hard work and creativity from the Bank, who provided the data and text, and from National Geographic Maps, who provided the cartographic and design expertise.

I would like to personally thank Alan Carroll, our chief cartographer, who is with us, and Chris Neal, who made a major contribution.

Awareness is critical to achieving results.  We often hear about an Africa that is ravaged by poverty, disease and conflict.  News headlines and footage transmit images of starving women and children in Niger.  They report on violence and suffering in Sudan's Darfur region.  They cite alarming statistics about the human toll of HIV/AIDS and malaria.

I was particularly moved by personal stories on this issue of Africans living with HIV/AIDS.  In their own words they share with us the pain of discovering that they have the virus, their fear of leaving their children, and their hope for surviving with treatment.  It allows us to see, if only for a moment, the real human tragedy behind the numbers.

But there's another part of the story that we hear about all too rarely.  To borrow the words from this cover issue, "Whatever you think about Africa, think again."  There is another face to Africa, one of hope, ambition, energy, intelligence and achievement.  That face is also captured compellingly in this issue.  I was struck by the optimism in Jared Diamond's essay about the future of Africa with its rich geography and history.  It's an optimism that I share, and which was reinforced for me by a visit to four African countries in June in my first weeks as President of this great institution.

I met with heads of state, government officials, civil society organizations, women activists, students, and I saw firsthand their taking ownership of their country's future.  I came back with a conviction that Africa can become, indeed I hope is becoming a continent of hope.

Today the subcontinent stands at a crossroads.  Its current history speaks of poverty and suffering, but its future holds rich opportunities.  To seize these opportunities, there are many challenges that have to be overcome.

Let me first illustrate the sheer magnitude of those challenges.  Africa has the largest share of poor people in the world.  In the last five years the number of Africans living on less than a dollar a day, extreme poverty, has nearly doubled from 164 million to 314 million, half the population of sub-Saharan Africa.  Economic growth during that period averaged 3 percent, but it was obviously far short of what is needed to reduce poverty.  Without faster progress the number of poor people in Africa is expected to rise even further.

Five years ago, world leaders had clear targets to reduce poverty by half and to improve economic and social conditions in developing countries.  Both rich and poor countries pledge to do their part in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Rich countries promise debt relief and an increase in aid in exchange for policies and governance that use aid effectively in poor countries.

For Africa these MDGs pose a daunting task.  To keep the number of poor from rising will alone take a growth rate of some 5 percent.  To meet the larger target of halving poverty by 2015, growth will have to accelerate to 7 percent.  That is more than double the region's growth rate today.

Given the enormous scale of this challenge, we need to come to terms with what we can and cannot achieve with the MDGs.  We know today that many countries will not meet the MDGs, at least not on the schedule originally hoped for.  We also know that there are many countries that are on track or could get on track with increased effort.  We need to focus our efforts where it can make a difference, and in those cases where meeting the MDGs may take longer, we must set realistic intermediate goals rather than abandon the effort.

Two days ago the Board of this institution discussed an Africa action plan designed to help African countries accelerate growth and achieve tangible results in fighting poverty.  The plan sets forth 25 specific initiatives to be led by African countries during the next three years.  It also sets clear financing commitments for free primary education in 15 countries, as well as roads, power and infrastructure.

But economic growth must go hand in hand with growth of institutional and governance capacity if we want sustainable results.  I am pleased to see--and this is a major reason for hopefulness that there's real progress on this front--countries once torn by conflict like Uganda, Rwanda and Mozambique, have made enormous strides in securing peace.  A new leadership is emerging in Africa that is increasingly open to change and committed to attacking deep-seated problems of corruption and accountability.

More and more Africans across the continent are casting their votes and holding their leaders accountable for jobs, education, health care and a better future, and their leaders are listening and stepping down when they're voted out of office.  We cannot underestimate the importance of voice and participation in Africa's development process.  The evidence is compelling.  The experience of countries worldwide shows that civil liberties, the respect for a citizen's voice and equality, are crucial to fighting corruption and sustaining development.

We are seeing that women in particular have an important role to play.  Statistics show that in countries where women enjoy more rights, there is less corruption.  In countries where women are in political office and in the job market, there is less corruption.

Let me say a few words about this important disease called "corruption."  Controlling corruption is critical for sustainable development.  It is in fact one of the points highlighted to the recent summit of the G-8 countries in the Africa Commission Report that was commissioned by Prime Minister Blair, that reforms will have limited impact if corruption is not reduced.  Whether it exists in the government, in the private sector or in aid projects, corruption drains resources and discourages investments.  It benefits the privileged and deprives the poor.  It threatens prospects for a better quality of life and a promising future.  It is indeed, as Jim Wolfensohn said, a cancer.

So it is gratifying that more attention is being paid to good governance and corruption, and that there's a refreshing willingness to address this painful problem openly.

I was encouraged to see it was on the minds of African Ministers I met here in Washington during meetings of the World Bank shareholders this spring.  They expressed a strong common concern about the need to address corruption in their countries and to stay the course to progress and growth.

At the World Bank we are working with countries that request our help to strengthen legislation and institutions so they can take charge of combating corruption.  But the burden of fighting corruption cannot be placed on the developing countries alone.  Rich countries and development organizations also must play their part in supporting developing countries to step up to this challenge, because after all, though it's often overlooked, there are at least two parties to every corrupt transaction, and the developed world frequently shares responsibility with the developing world.

For every bribe taker, there's a bribe giver, and often the bribe givers are individuals or firms from rich countries.  Their actions undermine the efforts of poor countries who are fighting corruption and trying to build a better future for their children, and their efforts undermine the generosity of taxpayers and donors in the rich countries who want to see their resources used for the right purpose.

So rich countries too have a moral responsibility to help the poor countries reclaim their future.  This included recovering stolen assets from international bank accounts, and I'm happy to report that just last week the governments of Switzerland and Nigeria reached a landmark agreement that will return to the Nigerian people almost half a billion dollars from a Swiss bank account that was stolen by the former dictator, Abacha.  The World Bank will support the government of Nigeria to ensure that these funds will be used as they were intended, to serve the needs of the poor.

We know very well that projects that the World Bank finances are themselves potential targets for corruption, and we are doing something about it.  We conduct regular audits and investigate allegations of fraud.  An anti-corruption hotline has been set up for firms and individuals, including our own staff, to report bribes or misuses of funds, and we publicly blacklist the firms and individuals that engage in bribery in our projects.  In the last fiscal year alone, 350 cases in the last fiscal year were investigated.

Let me conclude with words that president Obasanjo of Nigeria spoke to me when I met with him in June.  He said, "Africa is a continent on the move."  And let me add, we all have a stake, not just Africans, in helping it move faster toward progress and achievement.  We live in an interdependent world.  The 600 million people on this vast continent have hopes and expectations of moving forward with the rest of the world.

At the World Bank we have made a commitment to work to turn this hope into reality.  Africa is at the top of our development agenda.  In the last 10 years, 15 of the 44 countries in the subcontinent have seen their economies grow 6 percent per year, year after year.  That is an extremely hopeful achievement.  It gives us a hint of what can be accomplished if sound economic policies are put in place, if aid is used effectively, and if the efforts are sustained over time.

But Africa and the rest of us need to do more to face the great challenges that lie ahead.  Africa's transformation will depend on the commitment of the international community and the resolve of Africa's people and leaders.  It will also depend on a close partnership led by Africans and supported by the rich countries and the multilateral institutions.  We are driven today by the urgent need to achieve results and create opportunities for the men, women and youth of Africa, to show the world the face of Africa that is marked with hope and optimism.

Now it's my real pleasure to turn over the floor to Oliver Payne, Senior Editor of National Geographic, one of the creators of this great issue, who will introduce one of the proud contributors.

Oliver.

[Applause.]

MR. PAYNE:  Thank you very much, Mr. Wolfowitz.  It's a great pleasure to be here today on behalf of National Geographic, and I want to thank the World Bank for hosting this important discussion about Africa and its future.

As the Millennium Development Goals map shows, sub-Saharan Africa is the only world region where progress has been insufficient.  So finding ways to draw sustained attention to Africa's challenges and its enormous potential is a top priority.

Under the guidance of Editor-in-Chief, Chris Johns, we began planning our Africa issue more than two years ago.  We aimed to give readers a vivid and immediate sense of a range of subjects that bear on the relationship between people and nature.  We don't often commit ourselves to single-topic issues, but one of the things that inspired us was an audacious project being planned by the redoubtable Dr. J. Michael Fay, an ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society of New York, and a National Geographic Explorer in Residence.

In 2001 Mike had completed his mega-transect, a 2,000 mile data gathering foot slog through still largely undisturbed forests of Central Africa.  He was now interested in amassing data from the air to assess the human impact on the entire African continent.  This endeavor would compliment the map of Africa created by the Human Footprint Project, a worldwide initiative based on satellite imagery and led by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The article about Dr. Fay's 70,000 mile mega fly-over is the lead piece in our September issue, and the supplement in it features the Human Footprint map.

Who is Mike Fay?  Outwardly he received a bachelor of science from the University of Arizona in 1978, then spent six years in the Peace Corps in Tunisia and the Central African Republic.  His doctoral work on Western Lowland Gorillas led him to create and later manage national parks in the Central African Republic and Congo.  His mega-transect spurred the first system of national parks in Gabon, and confirmed him as one of the world's leading activist scientists.

The inner Fay is no less interesting.  Here's a brief description from our August 2001 mega-transect story by David Quammen of Mike facing yet another obstacle, an area of rain-flooded forest.  "Fay waded out alone, probing the dark water ahead of him with a long stick.  Quickly he was waist deep, chest deep, armpit deep.  Then there was just a little head and two skinny arms vanishing into the thicket.  I was concerned for him out there alone because of the crocodiles, not just Crocodylus niloticus, but also a smaller species found hereabouts, Osteolaemus tetraspis, commonly known as the dwarf crocodile, yet not to be taken too lightly.  I heard the whack of the machete.  I heard fits of cursing, which alternated oddly with what sounded like bursts of semi-demented song.  Fay reached landfall beyond the thicket and returned just far enough to holler instructions.  To my ears he sounded like a bilious colonel screaming orders at new recruits through a mattress."

Despite such incidents, Quammen eventually reached this conclusion about his subject:  "In my judgment, reached slowly, Fay is a formidable man with a strong sense both of mission and fairness."

So it's time to hear from Dr. Michael Fay, and he won't scream orders at you.  [Laughter.]

MR. PAYNE:  Mike.

[Applause.]

DR. FAY:  Thank you very much.  It's great to be here today.  The Bank is one of those institutions in this planet that makes a big difference just about everywhere we go.  So to be able to stand up here today and talk to you about what I saw in the African continent over the past year is a great honor for me, so I thank you for that.

[Pause.]

DR. FAY:  The best laid plans, as we all know.  Worked before everyone walked up here.

[Laughter.]

DR. FAY:  Well, first let me say that I have traveled around the African continent for the past 30 years, and I have been involved in conservation most of that time, and the bottom line for me after traveling through 30 or 40 some countries over the past 30 years is that there is a very direct relationship in particular in the African continent, but indeed everywhere on earth, between the management of the natural resource base and poverty alleviation, the well-being of humanity.  And as time goes on, that relationship becomes more and more important, and I think as one and all are focusing on these Millennium Challenge Goals over the next 7, 10 years, everyone, the World Bank, the United States Government, the EU, United Nations and every African nation needs to think very carefully about the management of that natural resource base as they try to implement those goals.

If you look at the African continent from the satellite, you think this ia verdant, virgin continent, but if you start adding layers to this continent, you'll see that originally most of these rivers were navigable, and as time goes on, and as modern humanity starts to expand and develop, you see that railroads become established and highways become established, roads become established, and humanity over time basically covers the entire continent.

The National Geographic, along with the Wildlife Conservation Society, over the past couple of years have been thinking about the relationship between humanity and everything else that is in nature and the natural resource base.  We've come up with a map which I think is a very interesting one, and one that I've spent days and weeks and months looking at, and it's called the Human Footprint.

And what this map is, is a depiction of the continent that combines many different layers having to do with humanity, not only roads and navigable rivers and railroads, but lights at night, so kind of the electrical grid in that continent, and human populations and land use, combining all of these things to come up with a single value for the weight of the human footprint throughout the continent.

I think that when you start looking at the African continent in this context rather than in the context of the satellite image, and you start to look at this human footprint in relationship to the natural resource base, a lot of things start to emerge that bring a lot of human tendencies to the fore.  One of them is something I'll show you here, which I think is a very telling kind of example of what we're talking about when you start navigating around this map, is this red blotch in Southern Africa.

When you put the country boundaries on this map, you realize that that is Zimbabwe.  When you look at the history of Zimbabwe over the past 20 or so years and you review the history of land tenure and what has happened over the last few years, when you look at this map and you start looking at the distribution of humans, in particular the land tenure, and you start looking at what's happening in red areas compared to green areas, certain things start to come to mind, and blame for what's going on may not be only attributable to politics and corruption and a lot of other things that people talk about, but it has a lot to do also with human ecology.

It has a lot to do with humans feeling pressure as the resource base in those countries becomes more and more stretched, and if there is great inequality, that can lead to conflict.  It can lead to a lot of things that are often ascribed to things on a higher level than the natural resource base.  But I believe that when you start navigating around this human footprint and you start zooming in and out around the African continent, you see a lot of very interesting patterns starting to emerge.

One of them is this area here around the great lakes of Africa.  And again, if you put the country boundaries on this map, you realize that what you see is intensive human footprint in the countries of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, and right into Eastern DRC.  But then as you go toward the west, that continent becomes quite empty relatively quickly.  And when you look at what's happened in Eastern DRC and Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi over the past 10 or 12 years, you can start asking your questions about human ecology in this equation, rather than again just politics.

You could spend days and days and days, and indeed I spent many months wandering around the continent looking at this map and picking up patterns.  Another one that we see is Darfur, and I'll talk about that later.

A few years ago I took this long walk across Central Africa, and I walked all the way across the country of Gabon from the northeast to the southwest.  When you look at the map of Gabon, using another GIS layer, you see a lot of red, and those red squares, those polygons are logging concessions, mostly operated and owned by foreign companies, many of them European, and a lot of them Asian.  When you travel around deep in the forests and you start looking at the management of forest resources in those concessions and you really start to get a realistic view of what actually happens to a forest when it gets exploited, your ideas about the economics of logging change because you see massive soil erosion.  You see millions of trees that are toppled that are not used, that are wasted and that are burned.  You realize that a very small percentage of the wood that is actually felled and cut ever makes it to the market, probably well under 10 percent.

What happens over time is, I think--and I saw this everywhere on the African continent on this flight that I took--the winds of change are coming, not just for development, and you see that everywhere as well, new roads, new cities, new infrastructure.  There really is a very strong kind of wind of change coming for development in Africa, but I also believe very strongly that many African leaders and many African nations are recognizing the importance and the fundamental importance of natural resource management, and I think that when you look at the map of Gabon today and you see that there are 13 national parks, you think, well, that's good, but can they really afford to maintain 13 national parks in Gabon?  But my question would be rather: can they really afford to cut almost all of their primary forest in 30 years and waste over 90 percent of the wood?

What creating a national park network has done in Gabon is it has changed the dynamic, the discussion between natural resource management and exploitation in the context of development, and I think that if you look at Gabon today and you listen to discussions in the Ministries of Forestry and Mining and Oil, you realize that that discussion is now front and center in the development goals of that country.

A few years ago Colin Powell visited Gabon as well, and he was in the forest, and he said, "This is the first time I've been in the woods since Vietnam," you know.

[Laughter.]

DR. FAY:  But he enjoyed himself, and he also, I think, in that very brief period of time in the forest, recognized we've got to think about the natural resource base here.  He was convinced, and he started an initiative called the Congo Basis Forest Partnership, and that now operates throughout Central Africa, and I think it's been a very positive influence on, again, that balance between development and looking at your natural resource base and managing it.

Very recently I decided instead of walking 2,000 miles across the forest, that I would take a small airplane, and what I did was I took this Human Footprint Map and I identified every single eco-region in Africa, and I thought, I'll fly from heavy human footprint to the lowest possible human footprint value in every single ecosystem in this continent.  I didn't do more than about half at the end of the day, and I will record what I see on the ground.  Every 20 seconds I'll take a photograph, a high resolution vertical photograph of the landscape that allows me to see how resources are being used, how river systems are doing, how forests are doing, how grazing systems--what the level of erosion is, and also how things are developed.  Are there new roads?  Are those roads paved?  Is there tin on the roofs?  Are those houses getting bigger or smaller?  Are they falling into disrepair or not?  Many, many variables that you can look at from the air.

When you go out on a trip like that you need a strong team.  So this is the two pilots and myself, Peter Regg [ph] and Mario, who led me from the beginning in South Africa to the end, and they're Austrians, so they're serious guys.

[Laughter.]

DR. FAY:  And they flew every day, all day for about 7 months, and covered those 60,000 miles, 110,000 photographs, looking down on the continent, making notes as we went.  And I owe them a great deal of thanks.

I'm going to take you on a very brief little tour, and I would live to show you 110,000 images, but I can't do that.

This is a housing development in South Africa that is one of many, many housing developments that has gone up in the past 15 years in South Africa.  It's in one of the ex-homelands, and there's been a great deal of investment by South Africa I housing and electricity and roads and communications for previously disadvantaged people.

But as we flew around South Africa, this was the other side of the equation that we saw time and time again.  Massive erosion in the ex-homelands, a very clear degradation of the land base on which those people are living, which is very vivid and not just once, but tens of times traveling in the ex-homelands in South Africa. You start to realize that investment in infrastructure is important and developing is important, but avoiding this kind of erosion is also extremely important.

The other thing that we see frequently on the African continent, and this is a large mine in South Africa, is that the amount of resources that are exploited in relationship to--and you can see this shanty town basically right next to the mine tailings here--don't really translate into solid development locally around these massive resource exploitations.  And again, we saw that time and again, and I've lived in logged areas for the past 20 years in Africa, and very infrequently do you see logging translate into well-developed towns and cities in these forests.  You usually see shanty towns.

But Africa, again, is a place where most people either directly or somewhat remotely are connected very closely to the land.  This is an area in northeastern Zambia, a country that has well over 30 percent of its land mass in protected areas and a very strong ethic about land use management, and one that is certainly increasing rather than decreasing, and they're getting considerable support to support that notion.  You see lands like this that have been cultivated in northeastern Zambia for probably thousands of years sustainably, and at the same time, thousands of lechwe running around in these plains, side-by-side with a very heavy human footprint.

The lesson for me, as we traveled across Africa, was that if humans just think and they act on resource management, they can have their cake and they can eat it too.  When you compare that to the massive erosion that we saw time and again in places like South Africa, the human footprint values for those two places are very similar.

This is a forest in Madagascar, a place that has lost the vast majority of its forests in the past thousand years, a place that has 87 percent endemics in these forests, and lo and behold, I see logging operations that could very easily be in Central Africa, where obviously there is very little regard for that forest resource.  These aren't really opinions of mine, they are observations.  And for me to go into one of the last forests of Madagascar and to treat it this way is not a good thing for a country like Madagascar, and we saw this time and again.

Water resources are extremely important in Africa, and indeed everywhere, and the management of those resources very often are connected to mismanagement of agriculture.  One case in point--this is actually in Tanzania--but one case in point is the increase that I've seen, and we saw very clearly from the air in Zambia over the past three or four years, of huge increase in tobacco production in that country, and everyone touts that as a success story.  But when you look at the landscape you realize that tens of thousands of hectares of very good well-developed savanna are being clear cut in Zambia to support that activity.  It's not necessarily sustainable.

Another thing that we saw was these strange greenhouses appearing all over the landscape in Africa.  This is Lake Naivasha in Kenya, and someone discovered that you could send rose to Europe from Africa much cheaper than you can produce them in Europe, and all over around Lake Naivasha this activity has created a great deal of economic growth, a large number of people moving to this area, but the lake is dying.  And very little thought has gone into the combination of preserving that natural environment and making it productive for the long term rather than the short term.

The last series of photos that I'm going to show--because we really don't have time--is a place in Chad where you can see in these photos just from a couple of months ago, well over a thousand elephants in a single frame of your camera.  But when you think about elephants in Central Africa you realize that there are two pockets left basically, one in southern Chad in Zakouma National Park, and another in Garamba National Park.  And in between, basically that's what you find, and this photo is from the Central African Republic just a couple of months ago.

For the past 20 years, people primarily from Sudan have been making forays into the Central African Republic, and by all estimates, they have killed well over 100,000 elephants.  And not only that, they have killed probably millions of antelope, and have transported million of kilos of honey back to where they've come from, which is Darfur.  And these people that have been coming into the Central African Republic, today everyone knows as the Jenjuwe [ph].  What we saw just two months ago in Central African Republic was a massive human movement from that area to the south, where these waves of people are--it's kind of after shocks, where people two or three steps away from the problems in Darfur are moving south because of other movement to the north.

So when we start looking at the Human Footprint again, and we start to piece this all together--and again, I would love to show you 110,000 images today, and they run through my mind every single day--the basic conclusion for me is that countries that we saw that are thinking and acting on resource management are showing much more positive signs than countries that are not.  I think that the world community, as we travel through this Millennium Goal process, needs to think much more carefully about the resource base in not only African countries, but everywhere else, and we need to invest much more in the management of those natural resources.

Thank you very much.

[Applause.]

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  Michael, thank you.  That was fascinating and compelling, and there's a strong message there too, which we appreciate.

What I would like to do with the time remaining before we break for refreshments which are available outside at 3:30, would be to entertain a few comments from two other distinguished members of our panel here, first from Frannie Leautier, who is World Bank Vice President for the World Bank Institute, a job she's held since 2001.  She's a leading expert in infrastructure strategy in developing countries.  She is Ph.D. in infrastructure systems from MIT and distinguished member of our staff.  Frannie.

MS. LEAUTIER:  Thank you very much, Paul.  It's a wonderful opportunity to actually look at this presentation and react to it, because three things struck me--and I won't say much because I think the photographs were very rich.  The first thing is looking at Africa from above gives you a continental perspective.  You see a continent instead of a group of countries, and the possibilities that that presents I think is one of the things that struck me, that countries working together can reach solutions that are much better than when they work individually.  But for that to happen, you need to have institutions that work at the regional level, solutions that will solve the conflict of Darfur so that the people of Darfur can migrate and move and work in other areas, and these challenges of environment and human life can be managed.  So that's the first thing that struck me.

The second thing was the long history of balancing between human life and other life forms, with the forests, animals and so on, and how Africans--I mean all of us by birth are Africans because that's the seat of humanity--have been managing this conflict over years, but now there are stresses, and that challenge of managing the very fine stresses between human life and human needs and other life forms, and the way in which those problems need to be solved is another thing that really came across from the presentation, but also from the special issue.

The third thing is the diversity of Africa, 2,000 different languages, different cultures, but also commonalities, common history, three major languages spoken and therefore possibilities to work together.  And that opportunity I think is a great one because when you look at the challenges of corruption--how do you manage such a diverse continent--it's difficult.  So solving these problems is not easy.  But looking at how this has been done over centuries, and learning from the life systems and how people manage those life systems, could give us opportunities for thinking of managing other systems.

I'll end with a personal story because when I saw the photographs and the images I said, I learned physics by measuring the weight of an elephant from its footprints, and my grandfather says  (?)  that's my name in my family, in the hierarchy of my family.  He says, "How heavy is this elephant?"  And every time now I have a difficult problem I close my eyes and say, "Frannie, guess the weight of the elephant."  And I think this to me came together very strongly in this issue of National Geographic and also in the wonderful photographs that we just saw.

[Applause.]

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  Our last panelist is Paulo Gomes, one of the distinguished members of our Board of Directors.  I think he has the most challenging job of any Director because he by himself speaks for 25 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, which he's been doing extremely well, at least during my tenure, but I think much longer, since 2002.  He began his career as an investment analyst at the French Center for Industrial Promotion.  At one point in his career he was principal advisor to Guinea-Bissau's Ministry of Finance before joining the World Bank.

And every time I visit an African country with him or meet with an African leader, we fight over which side of the table he sits on because I'd like to claim Paulo, but of course, he represents them, and he does it well.  Paulo.

MR. GOMES:  Thank you, Paul.  It was a little bit unfair after Frannie.

[Laughter.]

MR. GOMES:  But let me first say that this is a formidable edition from the National Geographic, and when I read it yesterday, yesterday night, I tried just to cover some of the issues, it reminded me that one of the edition of The Economist with a big map of Africa about the Hopeless Continent.  I was pissed off when I saw that edition because it was negative, although it was pointing the finger to very challenging issues for Africa and the leadership in Africa, but it was very aggressive and wanted to portray Africa as being a totally negative land, a hopeless one.  And as you say, when a country's hopeless, it means that there's no solution, and they think there's no solution, there's no solution in Africa.

So this one provides a very positive image, also pointing the finger at some challenging things, but was very rich in presenting the ecological dimension of the diversity of Africa, and also presenting a body of data that will be very useful beyond our generation to other generation.

So I will insist on two things in my two, three minutes.  The first one is that I think that an issue like this, an edition like this should be part of a more comprehensive strategy on rebranding Africa, and this rebranding Africa has to be led by African themselves with a partner.  But I think we need to challenge everybody that will bring only negative aspect on Africa.  And this is part of an exercise.  And when you say, "Think again," I will say, "Think again out of the box."  Forward thinking on rebranding Africa, and this is something I think the Bank and country leadership, yourself, Paul, and others, I think we could do something in preparing a comprehensive strategy to rebrand Africa.

The second thing I would say is that when you look at all this diversity, this ecological dimension and diversity, I would say that Africa has a formidable reservoir of variety in fauna and flora, and I see here an opportunity to prepare Africa when the genetic revolution would really start.  I see this genetic revolution coming up.  There's variety in Africa that is only in Africa, where I think where all this decoding exercise will take place, I think that Africa could position itself by patenting some of the codes and then use if for scientific and for the good I hope.

And finally, I think that all these assets would be useful if we can make them liquid and create wealth for the people.  At the end of the day we have to generate revenue from these assets. But I don't think that we will be able to do it country by country.  In looking at the map--and I think that most of the people here will get the map--when you look at Southeast Asia, with how many country--East Asia-Pacific, 24 country, 1.9 billion people.  You look at South Asia, 8 country, population 1.4 billion.  And then you look at Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, 48 country with 790 million people.

We have a problem of a dimension of countries, who will not make it by being divided into 49 country.  I'm opening a new agenda, I know, and I'm not naive that this is not something that will happen overnight, but there is a need for a quick physical integration of Africa for Africa to be able to manage all these assets in an integrated manner because it would be impossible country by country to devote resources and people to manage those resources.  That's my final comment on this thing.

But I would like to thank the team from National Geographic again for this formidable piece of work.

[Applause.]

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  Thank you, Paulo.  We have five or ten minutes for questions, so if you would like to ask questions, go to the microphone.  We should probably always give a prize for the person who asks the first question because it's challenging in front of a large group like this to do that, but--or comments.  Comments are welcome as well.

[Pause.]

PARTICIPANT:  (?)  with Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.  I am from Nairobi, Kenya, and I did read the magazine and you did take aerial photographs, Michael, if Johannesburg, but just outside my capital, Nairobi, we have the Nairobi National Park, and there is already a lot of encroachment.  But right now Nairobi's getting full.  We're having housing problems.  We're trying to build a highway, but it abuts the national park, and there's a very specific question.  Where do you find the balance in your human footprint between development, which is necessary, and the natural resource management?  Particularly in urban areas, what were some of the things that you saw?  Because we saw a lot of your observations on rural areas.  In urban areas, where exactly--what exactly do your pictures say about the human ecology in urban areas, because that's where the great mass of Africans are moving and that's where the youth is found.

And make no doubt about it, Africa must develop because the conflicts will be worse if we don't boost the resources, so it is very necessary that that balance be found, and not just on the natural resource management.  Thank you.

DR. FAY:  Thank you.  Kenya is an incredible country.  I've been there many times.  I've never lived in Kenya, but I've traveled there many times, in particular in airplanes, observing the land.  And one thing that definitely strikes me in Kenya is that it is a country that has a very long heritage in careful and thoughtful land use management.  You have a very powerful network of protected areas including Nairobi National Park.

But if you travel a little bit farther out of Nairobi and go to the north--and I did this just a couple of months ago--and you travel around the Aberdares Mountains and you look at the millions of people living at the bases of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares, who are living, I think, relatively speaking, very productive and relatively happy lives, I think, and you look at the management of the soils in that area, you see almost no erosion.  Millions of people living at the base of these mountains.

You look at the forests of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares, and they're basically intact.  They have been preserved in national parks for a long time, and those parks provide water for those millions of people, and I think that that's the balance that you need.  You need to think about land and its limitations, and you have to ask yourself why shouldn't we manage this land as best as we possibly can.

Again, when you travel around the base of those mountains in Kenya and in northern Tanzania, it's impressive, because you see that mass of humanity that's living almost exclusively on the land.  They're growing tea, they're growing coffee, they're growing crops, and they're living very, I would say, on the average, for the African context, productive lives.  So I would say that Kenya's doing very well.

The case of Nairobi National Park, I've joked with friends before and I say, "Man, if I had an asset like that I'd think about selling it, you know, and developing it for housing," because in the global context there's not much there that isn't in Sabo(?) or in Masaimara(?) or in--and a lot of people would shoot me for saying that in the conservation community, but you know, that balance is made every single day, and I would say that countries again that have a strong and long history of land use management like Kenya, you see that in newspapers in Kenya, you see that discussion, that debate surfacing every single day millions of times in that country and that's a good thing.

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  Thank you.  In the back.

PARTICIPANT:  My name is  (?).  I'm from Botswana, and Botswana does have a history of--it's had maybe the economic base.  Policymakers have had the space to plan long term in order to manage resources effectively.  Most of the country is protected land.  But the one thing that I noticed in the discussion here was that--maybe not directly   (?)  to this--in terms of thinking long term, the constant mention of diversity, diversity in different areas, and given the increasingly scientific findings, talking about knowledge, a lot of scientific knowledge having originated in Africa, I mean population genetics, for example, which has found that, as was mentioned earlier, the humans all sort of migrated from Africa from the same people, I think out of all this sort of new knowledge that is common, maybe a challenge--or a question is how can the knowledge base which appears to be there in Africa but should be hidden in couches and unrecorded, to be hidden in Africa, how can that knowledge base be captured, but in a manner which will benefit the African people as well?

I don't know if I've stated the question very clearly, but it's really that people think a lot of answers are there in Africa, but the question is--

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  I think you stated it well.  I think Frannie Leautier will try answering it.

MS. LEAUTIER:  I think it's a difficult question and there is some progress being made already.  I think there are a number of examples on the Indigenous Knowledge Program that the Africa region is managing, where by collecting knowledge from communities--there's a group that works with unrecorded history, storytelling, collecting ideas about science, culture, history from stories, and putting all that knowledge together in a way that it can be scientifically tested.

Another example is in Tanzania in the Tonga region, where the HIV/AIDS groups of the Africa Region is working with traditional healers because they have found ways in which you can treat people and dealing not only with the physical ailments, but also psychological ailments and how to balance traditional treatments with modern medicine.

There's the example of the University of Accra, that every February sends through video-conferencing African drama and African art to students in the United States who want to learn about African history.

So there are many rich examples and the World Bank is very active in this area, and there's a very strong group in the Africa Region working on this.

But I think the genetic side of it, which Paulo mentioned, is another dimension where science and technology can be really leveraged to understand the diversity that that offers.

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  We'll take you and then you and then I think we'll probably be out of our time.

PARTICIPANT:  Thank you very much.  My name is  (?).  I'm from Nigeria.  I'm with Amnesty International.  I also wanted to thank National Geographic and Michael Fay for really doing this incredible job.  The only question I have is with resource management and development, and I think what comes out very clearly in the documentary is the fact that we, the institutions and the governments do not trust the people who are living in this land, who have long-term commitment with the land, who are going to live in this land for a long time.  And I think that's with issue of resource control.  If you really trust the people who are living in this land will be able to manage these resources and control them because they're going to live there for a long time, I think you have a sense of people having to live, you know, in balance with nature, and really trying to manage the resources as best as they can.

So I'm just wondering what an institution like World Bank is doing to encourage governments in these countries to really have  (?)  and trust in the communities to really try to manage these resources in a very sensible and long-term manner?

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  I can make a few brief comments, and since it's aimed at our institution, I guess I won't ask National Geographic to answer, but my colleagues on the left might want to say something.

I think you're very much on the mark, and I think our experience is the more people down on the ground are directing the results of assistance, the more likely it is to be used productively.

I visited--I think we call it Community Develop Program in for DAMA II(?) I think it was called in the state of Bauchi(?) in Nigeria, where we were working with the government of that state, handing out 10 and 20,000 dollar grants to community agencies and doing it with checks in the presence of the whole community, so people knew who was getting the money, how much money they were getting and what it was going for, and that's been a fairly common experience.

There's a dramatic experience in Uganda where initially they were finding that only 3 percent of the money that was supposed to be going for education actually arrived at the local level, and as we went with the government of Uganda in an experiment to publish the numbers and what was supposed to be going to individual communities, eventually those numbers flipped around, I think almost completely the other way and -- [tape change] -- knew what they were supposed to get and compared it to what they were actually getting, the demand to get results was dramatic.

I think one of the biggest challenges in this area is the so-called resource rich countries.  I say "so-called" because if you look around the world, you'd have to conclude that oil is not a blessing, it's more often a curse.  And I was very struck when I went from--you said you're from Nigeria--when I went from Nigeria to Burkina Faso, which has nothing.  It has 64 different ethnic groups.  It has a rough division I think between Christians and Muslims.  And yet, as Paulo educated me, Burkinabes have a strong sense of nationalism.  There are jokes about how nationalistic they are, and that they have this sense of national identity with all the differences underneath, that they have a high level of national harmony and stability, I said to them, this is a blessing that's priceless, and it's worth far more than oil or gold or ivory.

The question is how can we take those resources where there are big riches to be gained from the ground in Nigeria or in Chad or there's a long list of countries, and try to make sure that that money is going to the people rather than going into a Swiss bank account which we have to try to recover 25 percent of 10 years later.

There are a lot of initiatives in this area.  There's a whole thing called the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which was started under Jim Wolfensohn, that I think has great promise.  The government of Nigeria is making steps.  I think they have still--the glass is only partially full, but it's filling in terms of giving the people transparency as to what's happening to the oil revenues.

I was really struck when the government of Equatorial Guinea came to visit us a month or so ago and they now have so much revenue potentially coming in from oil, that they wouldn't need to enter the World Bank again in their careers.  I mean my first question was, "Well, you don't need us for money.  What are you here for?"  And they said, "We're here because we'd like you to help us set up a mechanism for transparency and accountability as these revenues come in."  And I was delighted.  And I said, "Some people say you're a very small country, you don't matter.  Well, I think to the contrary.  You're small enough that you could set a gold standard here in how these oil revenues are managed because we need a few countries where these revenues become blessings and not curses and people can see how it works."

Promised you.

PARTICIPANT:  My name is C. Payne Lucas.  I'm the former President of Africare, and served with the Peace Corps for about 7 years, so I've got about 45 years in Africa.  And next week I see my 72nd birthday, and I was really impressed with--

[Applause.]

PARTICIPANT:  --the work of the National Geographic, and I'm a big fan of the Bank, and after all these years of the struggle in Africa and all of its potential, the realization of its potential in this work really is not possible, in my estimation, unless we get a handle on managing diversity.

When we look at a country like Nigeria, 100 and some million plus, unless we can get the Igbos and Hausas and Yorubas to work together, our changes are not all that good, so that's really the challenge.  And all across the continent, as we talk about regions, we've got to put together a plan that works within countries for the people in that country.  So at the heart of all of our problems of achievement of governance and HIV/AIDS and all the other issues is the whole question of the management of diversity in these countries.

How you get at it, we don't know yet because we've been trying for 50 years and we haven't solved it yet so.  So I think the challenge to the Bank and everyone else is how do you get all of these ethnic groups first within countries and almost within villages to work together?  If we do that, then Africa's realization is magnificent.

[Applause.]

MR. WOLFOWITZ:  I think that's a good comment to end on.  If I could just pile on here, when I was Ambassador in Indonesia 20 years ago, I was really struck--it's a country of 200 million people and probably as many languages in that one country as we heard mentioned in all of Africa perhaps, because New Guinea has hundreds.  They're national motto is:  "Out of unity, diversity," and I made many speeches about what I think is the similarity between that motto and the "E pluribus unum" of the United States.  And I think what you're saying is Africa needs to achieve unity out of diversity.

I think it comes from recognizing diversity, not trying to suppress it, but then also recognizing the importance, as the people in Burkina obviously do, of working together.

Thank you all for coming.  There is coffee and cookies I'm told outside.  I think our panelists can stay for a few minutes I hope.

 [Applause.]

[End of meeting.]

Story:

Bullet - blue Africa: Whatever you thought, think again

 





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