“Preparing for the Future: Strategic Thinking and Long Term Planning”. Paper presented at a DPMF Sensitization Workshop for Senior Policy Makers from EAC Countries (Addis Ababa: June 2003).
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The first resource person to make a presentation on the topic of strategic thinking was Prof. Bujra. Introducing the topic, Prof. Bujra said that strategic thinking was primarily preparing for the future, i.e., deciding what kind of society or country one will have in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time. This was radically different from the situation of the 2020-syndrome wherein governments came up with papers that were not followed by serious strategies and planning. As an example of where serious strategies could take us, he cited the case of Malaysia, which has been able to successfully address similar challenges such as rampant poverty and civil war currently facing many African countries, but assiduously implemented its 20-year plan and was able to develop one of the most vibrant economies of the Third World. On the other hand, Africa is the only continent which has had a UNDP Programme to help its Governments to undertake long-term studies and to prepare for the future. This Programme is now winding down for lack of interest by both Governments and donors. Likewise, Prof. Adedeji had warned in 1977 that Africa was likely to become poorer in year 2000 than it was in 1960. However, the warning was not heeded and nothing serious was done to reverse the deteriorating trends of African economies except for making major pronouncements and programmes such as the Lagos Plan of Action and others at the OAU level. The only case of an African country that developed a vision which translated into rapid development was that of Mauritius.