Though substantial growth and rebuilding are taking place across much of Africa, the impact of HIV, AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis are still significant threats to the progress of African nations, The Hon. Patrick R.D. Hayford, told students this week. Hayford served as Director for African Affairs in the Executive Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations from 1999 to 2005 and Ambassador of Ghana. He spoke to students in the International Relations class of The Hon. Joseph Melrose, former Ambassador to Sierra Leone. “African countries are trying to build region by region,” Hayford said. “That’s the dream…democracy, rule of law, human rights and women’s rights.”
But millions of Africans don’t have access to clean water, basic health care, education, sanitation and electricity, Hayford told the students, several of whom have lived and worked in African countries including South Africa and Namibia.
“The challenges in Africa are enormous and there is so much to be done, so far to go,” he said. “But in the midst of all of this, exciting things are happening.” In addition to sustained economic growth in parts of Africa, and enrollment increases at universities and primary schools, he said, infrastructure issues are being addressed. Strengthening infrastructure is a key to Africa’s economic growth and countries including China and Malaysia are part of that development. But black market demand for natural resources including ivory, endangered species and other commodities threatens the success of efforts to strengthen and stabilize economies of African nations.
Students asked Hayford his advice for those among them who hoped to work in development in African countries after graduation. Leadership acumen and technical skill, he said, were critical to success in Africa. “Do your research, read everything you can about that country before you arrive,” he told them. “Then go with an open mind and don’t impose your views.”
Hayford’s visit is part of the Ambassador’s Lecture Series through The Hon. Joseph Melrose, former Ambassador to Sierra Leone, now faculty in the Ursinus Department of Politics and International Relations. Since 2006 Mr. Hayford has served a Director, Office of the Special Adviser on Africa at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. His 35-year diplomatic career in Ghana’s Foreign Service included tours of duty in New York, Egypt, the United Kingdom and South Africa, where he was Ambassador of Ghana between 1997 and 1999. At the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Ghana he was Director of International Organizations and Conferences between 1986 and 1988 and again from 1992 through 1995.