Kikwete’s take on three issues stalling Africa’s development

Thursday May 23 2019

Former President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

Former President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete  

By Khalifa Said @ThatBoyKhalifax

Dar es Salaam. Former President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has named good governance as one of the ‘three pertinent issues’ that most African countries are grappling with, the others being continental unity and poverty eradication.

Mr Kikwete made the remarks today, May 22, 2019, during a lecture as a Distinguished Nyerere Lecturer at the 11th Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Intellectual Festival.

The three-day festival, which is taking place at the University of Dar es Salaam, runs under a theme ‘Pan-Africanism and the Quest for Unity, Democratisation and Development: The State, Markets and Knowledge Society.’

In his lecture, Mr Kikwete said that there is no doubt that some significant strides have been made in good governance in Africa compared to what the situation was in the past decades.

He defined good governance specifically to mean democratic development, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and the fight against corruption.

“However, the progress is still very fragile, the interesting thing is that Africa never ceases to surprise with reversals.”


Mr Kikwete said that most of the African countries have failed to wage the war against poverty successfully, saying that there are still so many poor countries and too many poor people.

“Sadly, 27 out of 30 poorest countries in the world are in Africa,” he said. “When one looks at the [United Nations] Human Development Report, throughout all indicators, most African countries, if not all, score the lowest.”

He said that he is a member of the End Malaria Council which is now launching an intensive outreach program.

“There is a resurgence of infection rate [of malaria] and 90 per cent of these are in Africa,” said the former Head of State.   

Yet, Mr Kikwete remains optimistic in the area of unity, saying that there has been robust cooperation among the African states, particularly on economic and diplomatic fronts, both at the bilateral and regional level.

“There are vibrant regional economic groupings which are leading the way,” he said.

Mr Kikwete said that the process towards the creation of the United States of Africa may not necessarily have happened at a pace many of the people of Africa would have wished.

“But the movement towards the realisation of this noble goal has been consistent even though not expeditious,” he said.

“The trials and tribulations related to the Pan-African project of a continental unity have compelled us to come to terms with the fact that political unity doesn’t happen overnight.”

He said that for Tanzania, as a country, the goal of the United States of Africa has been its position ever since.

“We have never wavered in our commitment to the goal of forming strong African unity,” said Mr Kikwete. “After all, we are an example of two independent sovereign states [Tanganyika and Zanzibar] coming together and forming a new sovereign state [Tanzania].

Mr Kikwete said that continental unity has always been the basic principle of the Tanzanian people, their resolve and effort to the realisation of the goal is manifested in the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.