Since the 1950s, poverty reduction, improved health outcomes and access to education have been the primary goals of efforts to improve conditions in the developing world. Despite tremendous advances in each of these areas, a new and potentially more significant challenge confronts developing countries today—inequality. Growing inequality threatens developing countries in a manner more severe than poverty or any other traditional development priority, making it easier for corrupt elites to manipulate their populace along political, ethnic, and ultimately military lines. This destabilizing potential is magnified in many developing countries with growing youth populations, weak government institutions, fragmented political elites, and impunity for those benefiting from ongoing corruption.
On June 30, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings hosted Kenya’s former secretary for governance and ethics, John Githongo, to discuss his ongoing work on governance and development in Africa.
Githongo was appointed to the position of permanent secretary for governance and ethics by the incoming President of the Republic of Kenya Mwai Kibaki in January of 2003 and left office in February of 2005. Since then, Githongo has devoted his efforts to eliminating corruption, impunity and injustice in developing countries. In 2011, he launched ‘Kenya Ni Yetu’ (Kenya is Ours)—an effort to empower Kenyans seeking to advocate against corruption—and was appointed to Britain’s Independent Commission for Aid, an independent team tasked with evaluating the effectiveness of Britain’s aid spending.
In his remarks, Githongo focused on the role of increasing inequality and poor governance in Africa and other developing countries. Senior Fellow Mwangi Kimenyi, director of the Africa Growth Initiative, provided introductory remarks and Senior Fellow Daniel Kaufmann moderated the discussion.
After the program, the speakers took audience questions