He was delivering a public lecture at University of London School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) on Tuesday, which run under the theme: “Moving an African Society from Poverty to Prosperity. Challenges and Opportunities”.
The Malawi leader delivered the intellectual talk upon being invited by the school’s authorities, and was attended by University professors, deans of faculties and students of the London University.
“The truth is that every year, more wealth leaves Africa than the aid and loans that enter the continent. While Africa receives about $162 billion every year, about $203 billion leaves the continent to Europe. Africa is losing $41 billion or 32 billion pounds every year. This is according to Honest Accounts 2017 Report, also published in The Guardian— your paper here.
“The narrative that Africa is a poor continent is constructed and popularised to justify aid and overshadow the exploitation of the continent.
“We are made to believe that Africa is a corruption-infested continent full of bad leadership because the world has to be kept blind from this global syndicate of exploitation. We are convinced to find a reason to blame Africans for their situation,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika said Africa must refuse to accept it is a poor continent, saying it is such change of mindset that would propel the continent to development.
“In moving an African country from poverty to prosperity, it matters all the way to set out from a position of positive thinking and a positive self-concept. We need to reject and unlearn all the myths, stereotypes and negative concepts of African people. We cannot achieve anything positive with negative thinking,” he said.
He, however, said the problem was not foreign investment itself, but the problem has been the motive and the manner in which it has been practiced.
“It would be missing the point to demonise foreign investment just because it has been used as a form of exploitation. There are countries which have developed because of foreign direct investment. Some countries in Europe have developed because of the Marshall Plan and the huge sums of funds transferred from the US to Europe after Second World War.
“On the contrary, aid has never developed any country anywhere. No country has ever developed because of aid. At best, aid can only be a stop-gap measure in the transition to economic autonomy if that aid is invested in production sectors of the economy such as agriculture and energy,” said Mutharika.
The lecture was moderated by Baroness Valerie Amos of Brondesbury, the first black woman to serve as a Minister in the British cabinet and in the House of Lords. Valerie was also an adviser to the Mandela Government on leadership and change management issues.
Valerie also served as UK High Commissioner to Australia before joining the UN in 2010 as Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
The University of London contains 18 member institutions, central academic bodies and research institutes. The university has over 52,000 distance learning external students and 161,270 campus-based internal students, making it the largest university by number of students in the United Kingdom.