Christians seek new vision of economics and development for Africa

|PIC1|Discussing a new model of economics and development for Africa, Collier explained how despite its history Africa has the potential and power to shape its own destiny.

Joel Edwards, Director of Micah Challenge International, chaired the summit.

He spoke of the "discontinuity between perceptions about Africa" and said it was important to understand "what the correct Christian response should be to the pain and potential of Africa".

Founded in 2006 with the simple motto ‘We believe in Africa’, the ADF aims to encourage Britain’s African and Caribbean Christian Community to become more actively involved in the issue of poverty in Africa by focussing on economic justice, climate change and HIV/Aids.

Paul Collier, professor of economics at Oxford University and author of The Bottom Billion, which won the 2008 Lionel Gelber prize for the best book on international affairs, explained the economics of custody through the parable of the talents.

"The person who preserved their talent was chastised, the one who invested their talents was rewarded," he said.

"I believe, this is the essence of the difference between custody and preservation," he said in reference to Africa’s natural resources.

"They are God’s special bounty on earth for Africa. The challenge is to use them to invest in the future.

"So far, there has been widespread plunder of the present and future generation."

The Rev Nicta Lubaale, General Secretary of the Kenya-based Organisation of African Instituted Churches said, "Africans have visions for a better life" and warned non-Africans not to "look for people wanting a saviour".

He added that there were many things to be positive about, including the development of microfinance institutions, the growth of the Internet and mobile phone, its wealth of human and natural resources, and biodiversity.

"Africa is not Mugabe. Africa is not only what has gone wrong," he said.

"Where development projects have been phased out due to the credit crisis, we are here forever. We are not going anywhere. We are committed to working with local communities for a long time."

Dr Patricia Daley, a Fellow at Oxford University, noted, "The emancipation of women is paramount to affecting change on the continent. As church leaders you occupy one of the most influential positions to change culture."

The event was supported by Christian Aid.