Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive August 2009 Show 0932 Interview with Mali Ambassador Abdoulaye Diop

Interview with Mali Ambassador Abdoulaye Diop

We visit with the Malian Ambassador to the United States, Abdoulaye Diop, about the success Mali is having with Democracy.
Interview with Mali Ambassador Abdoulaye Diop

Rob McClendon and Abdoulate Diop

Show Dates

Show 0932: Interview with Mali Ambassador Abdoulaye Diop

Air date: August 9, 2009



Rob:  Well, located in West Africa, the country of Mali is in many ways a study of success.  Culturally diverse, Mali is rising above ancient tribal tensions that still plague much of the continent.  And while a Muslim country, Mali is a fully functioning democracy that prides itself on tolerance.  Yet as we have seen, Mali is also very, very poor.  Earlier, I was able to sit down with Mali’s ambassador to the United States.

Rob:  You spoke of education, and its importance to your country.  And Mali is a country that has a great history; and some of the oldest universities are in Timbuktu.

Mali Ambassador:  Of course, of course, you’re right.  In the middle ages we had what we call the first African university was located in Timbuktu.  And you may know the story of Timbuktu.  Today, we still have the manuscripts in many private libraries of Timbuktu that have the testimony of the vibrant culture of life in Timbuktu.  And still today, we think that education is one of the most important issues for people in our country, because it can give opportunity to everybody.  You may have a humble background; if you have a good education it opens doors for you.  If you want to be in our country, even if we think in terms of participation, how you can get your population to understand your policies, to be part of it, to own it, to participate in the political and social life of the country effectively, if they don’t have this background, if they are not educated, that’s why we think it is important.  Education is the first, foremost, in the budget in the government of Mali.  We still need to increase it.  We are looking for support with some other departments.  But we need to have right policies.  We have been talking about also something even in our own education system, because today we are producing more high education students with higher degrees in terms of Master degrees, in terms of the Phd.  But to be fair, our economy needs more people really with vocational training, because this is where the jobs are.  We have millions of young people involved in the informal sector.  If we had the ability to provide them with some skills, some practical training, they would be able, really, to develop their own potential in their sector.  It will be more effective, and it’s where the jobs are.  As I told, we have 80 percent of all workforce in the rural area.  If we have center of technical-vocational training related to this particular sector, I’m sure that we will be able to give more occupation for those people, and to increase their own participation for the creation of wealth and opportunity, and to decrease the poverty, because if you are serious about the fight against poverty, you have to look for it in the rural area, because the poverty in our country is predominantly rural.  That’s why it’s strategic to focus particular economic policies about education policies targeting the opportunities and the challenges that we have in this particular rural area.

Rob:  And you believe by this specific skills training, you can lower the unemployment and decrease the poverty rate.

Ambassador:  Of course, significantly, significantly.  Because this is where the workforce is; this is where the needs are; this is where we have all the problems, because the magnitude of the creation of revenues and jobs that we can have in the rural area or in agriculture, we cannot have it in any other sector, because we have 80 percent of our population involved in this area.  We’re not all farmers, but we’re either farmer or living in the rural area.  So if you want more for us, you really need to have an agricultural led economy growth.  Because even if it’s democratic, where you have 80 percent of your population is where you should be putting your money. You should put it where your mouth is, and our mouth is in agriculture.

Rob:  Thank you Mr Ambassador.

Ambassador:  Thank you very much.