Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the role of the state is to serve its citizens, not rulers.
He says such a political commitment to national development is vital to creating and spreading prosperity.
Mr Annan is in Singapore as the first Li Ka Shing Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, at the National University of Singapore.
Speaking at a public lecture titled “Asia and Africa – Past Lessons, Future Ambitions” at the University Cultural Hall Friday evening, he said economic development must combat poverty in the long term and improve people’s livelihood in the short term.
Mr Annan observed that while most Asian countries have developed their economies for the good of the people, many governments in Africa quickly began to believe that only they can be trusted to rule their countries.
This results in only the ruling elite benefiting – rather than the society as a whole.
Said Mr Annan: “African policy-makers must learn from Asia’s success and develop similarly comprehensive plans for creating jobs, developing skills, boosting education, improving infrastructure and modernising agriculture. They must also understand the leading role the state plays in achieving these ambitions.”