Why Africa Is Poor – An Important Book, And Critical Discussion

Kalk Bay Books will host the Cape Town launch of Greg Mills’s Why Africa is Poor. With him on the panel to discuss this vital book, will be the Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille. Professor Robert Schrire from UCT will introduce the speakers.

Good development examples now abound in East Asia and farther afield in other parts of Asia, and in Central America. But why then has Africa failed to realise its potential in half a century of independence?

This book shows that African poverty is not because the world has denied the continent the market and financial means to compete: far from it. It has not been because of aid per se. Nor is African poverty solely a consequence of poor infrastructure or trade access, or because the necessary development and technical expertise is unavailable internationally. Why then has the continent lagged behind other developing areas when its people work hard and the continent is blessed with abundant natural resources?

Stomping across the continent and the developing world in search of the answer, Greg Mills controversially shows that the main reason why Africa’s people are poor is because their leaders have made this choice.

‘This is not a book about how the West should engage with Africa, but rather about how Africa should engage with itself.’

Dr Greg Mills heads The Brenthurst Foundation, established in Johannesburg in 2005 by the Oppenheimer family and dedicated to improving Africa’s economic performance.

>From 1994-2005 he worked at the South African Institute of International Affairs, serving as its national director for a decade. He has lectured at universities and institutions in Africa and abroad from Australia to Zimbabwe, including the Pentagon, the Peruvian, Malaysian and Chilean Military Staff Colleges, the Confederation of Indian Industries, the Singaporean and Argentine Foreign Ministries, the United Nations and the African Union, is on the visiting staff of the NATO Higher Defence College in Rome, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Dr Mills has published over 25 books including, most recently, the award-winning The Wired Model: South Africa, Foreign Policy and Globalisation (Tafelberg, 2000), Poverty to Prosperity: Globalisation, Good Governance and African Recovery (Tafelberg, 2002), with Professor Jeffrey Herbst The Future of Africa: New Order in Sight? (Oxford University Press, 2003), The Security Intersection: The Paradox of Power in an Age of Terror (Wits University Press, 2005), and From Africa to Afghanistan: With Richards and NATO to Kabul (Wits University Press, 2007).

He is a graduate of the Universities of Cape Town and Lancaster, where he will, from 2011, visit as Professor of Strategic Studies. He serves as a Research Associate of the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies (CDISS), and as a Member of Council and Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI). A Member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), he sits on a number of international editorial and advisory boards.

Dr Mills’s latest book, Why Africa is Poor – and what Africans can do about it (Penguin) will be launched in August 2010, and is the product in part of a visiting fellowship at the Centre for African Studies at Cambridge University in 2009.

During 2006, based in Kabul, he was seconded as the special adviser to the Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Richards. Proving his tenacity if a few things else, he redeployed on a short-term secondment to the multinational forces in Afghanistan in

April 2010. During 2008 he served as Strategy Adviser to the President of Rwanda. For 2008-09 he was appointed as a Commissioner on the Danish Prime Minister’s Africa Commission.

When not spending time with his wife, Janet Wilson, and three children, Amelia, Beatrix and William, his leisure pursuits include finding, restoring and racing old cars, and cycling – slowly.