UK

Brown says global economy reliant upon growth in Africa

Gordon Brown
Image caption Gordon Brown wants aid to Africa to increasingly focus on wealth creation

Gordon Brown has used his first major speech since leaving office to say the future growth of the world economy is reliant upon the development of Africa.

Speaking in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, the former UK prime minister said he wanted to see the continent achieve its full potential.

Mr Brown also made light of losing the British general election in May.

He said he was someone who "spent some time as a politician before becoming a community organiser".

Mr Brown contrasted himself with President Barack Obama "who spent some time as a community organiser before becoming a politician".

Speaking to Ugandan political leaders, Mr Brown said he wished to see the creation of an "African century".

"Future growth in the world economy, and future jobs in the developing world, will depend on harnessing both the productive potential and the pent-up consumer demand of this continent," he said.

"There is an alternative to a decade of low global growth which would fail to meet both the development needs of Africa and the growth needs of Europe and America.

"To me the answer is obvious - as we struggle to find new sources of growth we must turn here, to Africa, to this continent of huge potential and talent."

To help economies develop across Africa, he said nations needed to increase access to broadband internet, which he said less than 1% of people currently had access to.

Mr Brown added: "I am already working with some of you to bring together experts in this field for a major campaign and programme of work, because I truly believe that the rapid expansion of internet access in Africa could transform how Africa trades, learns and holds political power accountable."

Turning his attention to the developmental aid given to Africa, he said this needed to increasingly focus on private sector wealth creation, and not just providing services for the poor.

"The job of aid is to kick-start business-led growth and not to replace it," he said.

"And so I believe we need to focus not just on poverty, but on wealth."

After the speech, Bernard Aryeetey, from the charity Save the Children, said a long-term growth strategy for Africa was vital but should not be to the detriment of investment in health systems and education.

"Making sure that children are able to go to a clinic when they are ill and get a decent education must be tackled in parallel with a drive to increase economic growth through technological advance.

"Saving children's lives does in fact contribute to economic growth."

Meanwhile, Mr Brown also spoke to the BBC's Zeinab Badawi for an interview, in which he said he wished his government had spotted the UK's financial crisis earlier.

He also revealed he is "very cheerful" and "very relaxed" and enjoying his work as an MP in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

Mr Brown said that "international, economic, social and political co-operation" would become increasingly important when attempting to tackle such issues as climate change, the global economic downturn and terrorism.

"I feel that with my contacts, knowledge, and the work that I've done with countries and leaders in Africa and Asia and around the world, that there is something that can be done.

"I'm there to bring people together, but I'm not after any particular job for myself."

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