In one meeting which I attended, a question was asked; “What should Malawi stop doing to make economic progress?” One diplomat responded in just four words; “stop looking for excuses”. I can’t agree more.
We seem to be too obsessed with finding and inventing excuses to justify our economic malaise and stagnation. We blame it on the withholding of budgetary support by donors, as if we are entitled to taxes of other nations. We blame it on floods and yes, of course, on cashgate – everything it’s because of cashgate. We have perfected the art of making excuses so well that we might as well start offering degree courses in Excusiology.
Think of this: Malawi has a land mass of about 118,484 sq km, five times the size of Israel, a country situated in a very hostile region covering only 22,072 sq km. Malawi has about 24,000 sq km of fresh water bodies that comprise three good lakes and over ten perennial rivers that criss-cross the entire length of the country. On the other hand, Israel has meagre 2% of Malawi’s water mostly sourced from de-salination.
Most of the land in Israel is desert and rocky. But guess what? In 2012, Israel exported agriculture products worth about US$2.4 billion! And what did Malawi do with all the fresh waters and its vast arable land? It produced and exported some cancer-producing poison called tobacco worth about US$270 million and about US$200 million worth of food crops. What is our excuse?
In 2013 Malawi had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a miserable US$3.7 billion, just about 1.3% of the GDP of Israel that stood at a staggering US$290 billion! Life expectancy in Israel is 80 years for men and 84 years for women according to the United Nations. In Malawi, life expectancy has just risen to 54 years, thanks to lots of free medical aid from donors.
I can almost hear you arguing that it is unfair to compare Malawi with Israel. “Why not pick another African country?” Yea, another good excuse. If you want to progress in life, you don’t compare yourself with other failures. We need to raise the bar high and start challenging ourselves.
We have been too comfortable in mediocrity to the point that getting back on track of an IMF Extended Credit Facility has become our national major goal. When did qualifying for a drip in the intensive care unit (ICU) become an achievement? (…to be continued)Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :