Lecture by Dr Ayittey: “Cheetas vs Hippos” for Africa’s future.



Dr. Ayittey was listed by The Foreign Policy as one of the “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” in 2008 who “are shaping the tenor of our time”. After looking at several TED-talks, I came by Mr George Ayittey‘s TED-talk in Arusha, Tanzania. The Ghanaian economist George Ayittey unleashes a torrent of controlled anger toward corrupt leaders in Africa and calls on the “Cheetah generation” to take back the continent.




Economist George Ayittey sees Africa’s future as a fight between The Hippo Generation = the current political leaders who are happy to wallow in their water holes, complaining about colonialism and poverty, but doing nothing about it. Complacent, greedy bureaucrats wallowing in the muck. The Cheetah Generation = the fast-moving, entrepreneurial leaders, the saviours of Africa who are not going to wait for government and aid organizations to do things for them.



George Ayittey is a prominent Ghanaian economist, author and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC. He is a professor at American University and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He has championed the argument that “Africa is poor because she is not free”, that the primary cause of African poverty is less a result of the oppression and mismanagement by colonial powers, but rather a result of modern oppressive native autocrats. He also goes beyond criticism to advocate for specific ways to address the abuses of the past and present; specifically he calls for democratic government, debt re-examination, modernized infrastructure, free market economics, and free trade to promote development.



In the TED-talk, Mr Ayittey reminds us that 40% of the wealth created in Africa is taken out of Africa, that “Africa’s begging bowl is leaking horribly”. Examples:

  • Africa loses $148 billion to corruption each year
  • Africa loses $80 billion to capital flight each year
  • Africa loses $20 billion to food imports each year (when it used to be a food exporter)

He also continues saying that:

Since 1960 there has been 204 African heads of state – name me just 20 good leaders! Most can’t even get 15. Even 20 out of 204 is still a failure of government. The slate of post-colonial leaders is a far cry from the leaders Africa had known for centuries. Sometimes we think there is something called a government in Africa that cares about the people, and represents the people. What you and I understand as the government doesn’t exist in any African country. They suck the economic vitality out of the people. It’s a vampire state. The richest people in Africa are politicians – the chief bandits are the presidents.”



Dr. Ayittey was listed by The Foreign Policy as one of the “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” in 2008 who “are shaping the tenor of our time”. His books include Africa Unchained: the blueprint for development, Africa in Chaos, The Blue Print of Ghana’s Economic Recovery and Africa Betrayed.


If you’re interested in following Mr Ayittey, you could do that by adding him on Twitter.


Best regards,

Emre Gürler.

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2 Responses to “Lecture by Dr Ayittey: “Cheetas vs Hippos” for Africa’s future.”

  1. Deniz Kellecioglu says:

    January 5th, 2010 at 15:05

    The analysis regarding the African political elites are true, but not complete. The business elite (that he is promoting) is also responsible in backing and sometimes being political elites.But most importantly, he does not acknowledge the postcolonial structures and mechanisms that still plunder Africa of its resources and hinders development. Dr Ayittey is an African who says what the global capitalists want to hear: free markets and trade. This will not benefit the majority of the African people, evidenced by the liberals political economy imposed at the continent since the early 1980s. I do not trust western governemnts (sometimes disgused as Aid agencies), nor African government/leaders, nor business elitist, who most often exploit the weak structures of African societes.

  2. Emre Gürler says:

    January 6th, 2010 at 01:07


    First and foremost, I really appreciate and thank you for your comment on the blog regarding Dr Ayittey’s TED-talk. I’d like to ask you if you’ve got your own “recipe” for Africa’s development dilemma? From your own experiences and knowledge, what would you say is the most crucial and vital “recipe” in order to fight corruption, due to the fact that corruption is the disease that has plagued the African continent for such a long time and haltered development. Do you believe in boosting the local African entrepreneurs in order to fight poverty and corruption? I’d highly appreciate to hear your thoughts/ideas and what actual concrete measurements should be done to fight the corruption.

    Looking forward to read your blog-answer.



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