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Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade touted open markets, competition, and regional cooperation as the future of African development Thursday in a speech at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum.
Under Wade, whose presidential election in 2000 ended 40 years of single-party rule, the west African nation has achieved steady growth and been lauded for its good governance.
Wade described how Senegal is investing in its future by spending an unprecedented amount – about 40 percent of its budget – to education, from toddler daycare to building four more universities.
He also talked about how competition among foreign investors is helping the country. He said that while traditional avenues of development, including those provided by international organizations such as the World Bank, are often crippled by long delays, countries like China and Malaysia provide a speedier and more direct investment alternative.
“I’m playing a very open game with all my friends. I’m for competition, I’m for an open market,” he said.
Wade also spoke about the importance of African unity, and the creation of a United States of Africa.
“If Africa remains divided into small countries, with tiny economies, we will never get out of a pit,” said Wade, who spoke both in English and in French, through a translator. “Our only chance is to build a major economic and political space.”
To watch a video of the event, visit the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum archive.
Photos: Martha Stewart