Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda says the African continent is under-developed. He says african leaders should work closely with the developed nations to overcome their problems. Dr. Kaunda spoke as a guest lecturer at the 7th annual memorial service for the first Nigerian president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe at Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria.
Kenneth kaunda says Africa is blessed with abundant human and natural resources. But he says despite this potential, the continent is still underdeveloped.
"As responsible Africans, we must consider it as unacceptable that Africa a continent, with so much to offer to the world in terms of resources and talents, should lack behind in development. Africa is the third largest continent in the world with 54 countries, each offering unique opportunities for investment.'
Dr. Kaunda says with a population of over 750 million people and most countries embracing democracy, the continent is ready for investment. He calls on African leaders to reach out to the developed countries to achieve this objective.
"The capital flow and direct foreign investment will not come to Africa without our effort. In order for us to play a meaningful in world affairs, we need to plan our strategies well with a view to integrating our continent into the global economy. We need strategies which will for instance enhance the relations between the developed countries and Africa. We need to build bridges of cooperation and understanding between the people of Africa and the rest of the world."
Dr. Kaunda - who is on a one-year internship with Boston University in the United States - says African countries can boost their exports through the Africa Growth and Opportunity act, AGOA, introduced by the US government in 2000.
He calls on the American government to extend the expiration period of the act to beyond 2008. This, he says, will allow more African countries send their goods to the United States duty free and quota free.
Dr. Kaunda also praised the new development initiative by African leaders, known as the New Partnership for African Development or NEPAD. He calls on African leaders to put more pressure on the Group of 8 developed countries to give more support to nepad.
"Although the initial response of the most industrialized countries, the group of eight was in support of this initiative, there is need for follow up action of their commitment as well as addressing the question of resource gap envisaged in the NEPAD initiative as compared to commitment of the developed countries.'
He says Africa's quest for development is frequently disrupted by conflict and crisis. He says African leaders must ensure that the continent is free of conflict.
Speaking of the first Nigerian president, Dr. Kaunda describes Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as a great pan-Africanist who worked for peace and unity of the continent.
A former Nigerian military ruler who spoke at the lecture, agrees with Dr. Kaunda. Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who ruled Nigeria from 1966 to 1975, says Dr. Azikiwe's interest transcended Nigeria. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe died in May 1996.