Your Voices is an opportunity for readers of the Principal Voices site to explain their views on one of the key subjects at greater length.

The third of these is by 31-year-old Ravinder Paul Singh, born in India but brought up partly in Kenya, where he lives and works as a business consultant.

Singh explains how his experiences working in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi have given him a view of Africa beyond the usual stereotype of a struggling continent:

"Despite bringing positive attention to Africa, for example through global aid and the Live Aid and Live8 concerts, the Western media has left the world with an overwhelming picture of the continent as a place of poverty, lawlessness and illiteracy.

Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to travel to the slums of Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi, and the one striking thing I realized was that all this poverty hasn't broken the spirit of people. You can find a slum right in the middle of city where poor people travel kilometers on foot in search of a job every day. Every now and then, you even comes across a rags to riches story.

My experience has been one of extremes. I have been given back some extra money which I had given by mistake to an honest poor, guy but have also been mugged and stabbed. But I'd still say: 'Don't get scared!' These things happen in the wealthiest of nations, like the US and UK.

African culture is warm. The openness and hospitality was an eye opener for me, a total shift from the materialistic world I was used to.

Lots of Africa's poverty issues are due to years of neglect, and oppressive regimes which chose to ignore the plight of poor people. Infrastructures crumbled, economic policies were sidelined and corruption became the name of game.

Despite the difficulties, many African people are coming up with innovative solutions. In Kajiado, a Maasai pastoralist region of Kenya, I saw how local women had solved the problem of walking a long way to fetch water by combining their money to construct communal rainwater tanks.

This money is now also being used to make small business loans, and neighboring women have started to copy the initiative.

Africa's strength lies with its people, and I believe the answer lies in bringing power back to the people. We can all contribute by sharing our wisdom, efforts and resources in coming up with infrastructures and policies and framework which will not only empower people but also guide them to financial freedom.

Also, we must help putting in accountability and transparency systems to check the politicians."

What do you think?


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Name: Shehla Masood
Location: Bhopal, India

Accountability and transparency are the major problems/ hindrances not only in Africa but every where.

It's the citizens, the youth, who have to come forward and demand transparency. Governments run on money paid by people as taxes. People have a right to know how their money is being used.

In a democracy, people are the masters. Government exists to serve them. People have a right to know how they are being governed.

Name: Alexander Bates
Location: London, U.K.

I totally agrre with what you have said, Ravinder. Africa can be looked at as a big country where mismanagement has been the name of the game. I have been there and its a beautiful continent which has so much to offer. It's a shame that it has been left in ruins by the people in authority.

Name: Eric Akum
Location: Netherlands

Thanks a lot Mr Singh for your better understanding of Africa's problems. Glad you are there.

Name: Keba Ahmadou Sow
Location: Dakar, Senegal

First of all, thank you for speaking the truth. Africa is not a doomed, static place, it is moving economically, and socially.

CNN, through 'Inside Africa', does a great job showing a dynamic continent, and your statements just confirm that.

Name: Nita
Location: U.S.

What you say is completely right and it makes me proud to see you here.