What Africa Needs Now and How You Can Help

Africa has been the subject of much attention in the past few years as politicians and celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Bono have brought attention to its problems. After going to Ethiopia, I can see why they are so dedicated to their cause. The problems in Africa are correctable. They are not even that difficult except in their magnitude. Most experts believe we could make a permanent difference in Africa in just five years if we would do four things:

a) Encourage fair trade so that African farmers can sell their goods in the foreign markets (i.e., eliminate trade barriers and farming subsidies in the EU and US). A farm bill is being considered in the Congress right now, and it’s critical that Congress change the bill to eliminate some of the subsidies for our farmers that prevent African farmers and others in the developing world from being able to trade on a level playing field.

Want to make a difference? Call your member of Congress or write a letter to them. Go to http://www.bread.org and get the details.

b) Provide mosquito nets for African villages. Malaria is the leading killer of children in Africa. Mosquito nets can be placed in the latrines and beds of Africans and eliminate the malaria problem for whole villages. Nets are cheap and work well. They cost a mere $10 (two coffees at Starbucks), and they make a world of difference.

Want to help solve the problem? Donate a net at http://www.nothingbutnets.net.

c) Establish strong, predictable and fast connections to the Internet throughout Africa. Much of Africa still is without a connection to the Internet and all of its rich resources. This cripples entrepreneurship, business development and the ability of Africans to buy and sell goods over the Internet. Even at the Sheraton Addis, my connection was spotty, slow and sometimes non-existent. And that’s actually the best in Africa. Some of my IT friends need to come up with some solutions on this one 🙂 The first solution would be to persuade the governments to give up control of the Internet and turn it over to private businesses to grant access.

If you want to do something else and make a huge difference:

Buy (RED) products. You can give (RED) products for Christmas (watches, IPODS, Gap tshirts, etc) and contribute to the HIV awareness campaign in Africa. You can even buy (RED) cards at Hallmark or send a (RED) card on http://www.hallmark.com for $1.49. So far, (RED) has donated $46 million to HIV awareness and prevention in Africa, and so much more can be done. Right now, before you begin buying for Christmas, decide to buy (RED).



Sponsor an AIDS orphan in Africa for just $32 per month. That is food, clothing, education and anti-virals. http://www.compassion.com

No more excuses. We can make a difference. Those are five things you can do right now. Let’s make poverty history. It really is possible.



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