By Oluchi Chibuzor
A Fellow at the Asia Research Institute and Founding Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, Prof. Kishore Mahbubani has predicted a shift in economic power from the West to Asia in the first half of the 21st Century, with the second half moving into the Afro-Asian Century.
Speaking at the fourth edition of the Ndiaye Lecture with the theme, “Africa and Remaking of the New World Order,” that was organised by the Afreximbank, Mahbubani, noted that as at 1820, China and India
were the two largest economies of the world.
“It is only in the last 200 years that Europe took off, followed by the United States. In contrast to the plight of the bottom 50 per cent in the United States today, the bottom 50 percent in China have had
their best 40 years of socio-economic advancement in 4,000 years of Chinese history,” Mahbubani, a world-renowned geopolitical thinker and veteran diplomat said.
According to him, “In the 1990’s, China decided to become more pragmatic and the West decided to focus on ideology.”
Four decades later, pragmatism which emphasises the adoption of development models and solutions with a proven track record, enabled China to overtake the US as the largest economy in the world in purchasing power parity terms after a successful demographic transition.
He predicted that the second half of the 21st century would be the Afro-Asian century, especially with the African population projected to double in the coming decades.
Mainstreaming the culture of Meritocracy, Pragmatism and Honesty (MPH), which helped achieve successful demographic transitions in China, will play the same role in the process of African renaissance
and the return of the continent to the global centre stage.
The MPH structure also has the potential to stem endemic corruption which in the view of Professor Mahbubani has been the single most important impediment to development over the years.
Mahbubani exhorted future generations of Africans to aspire to be as
honest as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Earlier, the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, underlined the visionary spirit of Dr. Babacar Ndiaye and his development impact. “Afreximbank which was created in response to the sovereign debt crisis of the 1980’s has
become the African crisis management institution par excellence,”
The event also featured a tribute to Ndiaye from his former colleague, Ms. Arunma Oteh, who was African Development Bank Vice President for Corporate Services, World Bank’s Treasurer and is currently at the Said Business School at University of Oxford as an Academic in Residence.
She gave a moving tribute about Dr Ndiaye’s life as her mentor and shared his vision of Africa as an economic powerhouse.
The poet Dike Chukwumerije gave a rousing rendition of African history, highlighting the exceptional contribution of Africa to the world and paying homage to systematically organised civilizations of
Stressing the importance of history in the survival of civilizations he invited Africans to treasure and preserve their history. “In our African souls we carry always our ability to rise,” Chukwumerije
stated in his closing statement.