Categories World History

FACTORS CONSTRAINING DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICA

  FACTORS CONSTRAINING DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICA

  • The African continent makes up 6% of the Earth’s surface and 20% of the land mass. The 54 countries in Africa together have a population of about one billion or about 14% of the population of the world. Close to 1000 different languages are spoken on the continent.
  • Africa’s contribution to world trade is 1% and 25 of the world’s bottom poor countries are in Africa.
  • 300 to 500 million Africans are infected with malaria each year causing 1.5 to 2.7 million deaths. This means that in Africa a child dies every 45 seconds of malaria.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than any other region of the world. People living with HIV in the region are – around two thirds of the global total. Globally, tuberculosis is second only to HIV/AIDS as a cause of illness and death of adults. Although it has only 14% of the world’s population, Africa accounts for more than a quarter of this global burden.
  • Most African countries depend on their so-called development partners for 100% financing of development projects. It is estimated that 80% of inputs into agriculture, education and health are from foreign sources.

Factors constraining development of Africa

  • Colonial Rule:
    • The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth ushered in the main wave of European settlement and influence in Africa, motivated by interests including wealth, religion, and politics. (More in chapter: Scramble For Africa).
    • Many new states in Africa had been badly prepared for independence. Their frontiers were often artificial ones forced upon them by the Europeans and there was little incentive for different tribes to stay together.
    • In most cases, the governments which took over were run by the local political elite groups.
    • While African countries have achieved their political emancipation, economic success still eludes most of them. Strong trade and economic links with former colonial powers and over-dependence on aid remains a characteristic of most African countries.
  • Tribal differences:
    • They each contained a number of different tribes which had only been held together by the foreign colonial rulers and which had united in the nationalist struggle for freedom from the foreigners.
    • As soon as the Europeans withdrew, there was little incentive to stay together, and they tended to regard loyalty to the tribe as more important than loyalty to their new nation.
    • In Nigeria, the Congo (Zaire), Burundi and Rwanda. tribal differences became so intense that they led to civil war.
  • Economic problem:
    • Most African states had very little industry; this had been a deliberate policy by the colonial powers, so that Africans would have to buy manufactured goods from Europe or the USA; the role of the colonies had been to provide food and raw materials.
    • After independence they often depended on only one or two commodities for export, so that a fall in the world price of their products was a major disaster. Nigeria, for example, relied heavily on its oil exports. In 1970s there was a dramatic fall in the world price of products such as cocoa, copper, coffee and cotton. The disastrous effects on the incomes and therefore, the buying power of countries such as Ghana and Cameroon (cocoa), Zambia (copper), Mozambique, Egypt and Sudan (cotton) and Ivory Coast, Zaire and Ethiopia (coffee).
    • There was a shortage of capital and skills of all kinds and the population was growing at high rate.
    • Loans from abroad left them heavily in debt, and as they concentrated on increasing exports to pay for the loans, food for home consumption became scarcer. All this left the African nations heavily dependent on western European countries and the USA for both markets and investment and enabled those countries to exert some control over African governments (neo-colonialism).
    • The foreign assistance Africa receives were usually not in the form of industries that provide jobs and ensure transfer of technology but were the ones that make the citizens dependent on the perpetual injections of aid. Africa benefited just marginally from its enormous natural resources.
  • The Cold War:
    • The Second World War brought about at least two major developments in Africa.
      • First, it intensified the struggle for independence and self-determination.
        • It was not long after the second world war ended that the wind of independence swept across Africa.
        • But, as the new fragile nations emerged, they found themselves caught up in another struggle–the Cold War between the East and West.
      • Second, the Cold War shaped post-colonial Africa.
        • The effects of that influence still linger.
        • This era encouraged authoritarian governments to thrive in Africa and caused the economies to fall into an abyss, as the superpowers wrestled for influence.
        • In the atmosphere of the Cold War, some states suffered direct military intervention from countries which did not like their government, usually because they were thought to be too left-wing and under Soviet influence. This happened to Angola, which found itself invaded by troops from South Africa and Zaire because those countries disapproved of Angola’s Marxist-style government.
        • In countries where new governments were prepared to introduce socialist policies (nationalizing resources or foreign businesses), or where governments showed any sign of being pro-communist, the western countries disapproved. They often responded by cutting off aid or helping to destabilize the government. This happened in Angola, Mozambique, Zaire and Jamaica.
  • Political problems:
    • African politicians lacked experience of how to work the systems of parliamentary democracy left behind by the Europeans.
    • Faced with difficult problems, they often failed to cope and governments became corrupt.
    • Most African leaders who had taken part in guerrilla campaigns before independence had been influenced by Marxist ideas, which often led them to set up one-party states as the only way to achieve progress. In many states, such as Kenya and Tanzania, this worked well, providing stable and effective government.
    • On the other hand, since it was impossible to oppose such governments by legal means, violence was the only answer. Military coups to remove unpopular rulers became common. President Nkrumah of Ghana, for example, was removed by the army in 1966 after two assassination attempts had failed.
    • Where the army was unable or unwilling to stage a coup, such as in Malawi, the one-party system flourished at the expense of freedom and genuine democracy.
    • Crisis of leadership:
      • Leaders have not been able to leads to provide the basic necessities for survival, like food, shelter, clothing, health and security and continue to depend on others for even basic needs.
  • Corruption:
    • In Africa this asset has been squandered over the years through misgovernment and corruption to the extent that leaders are not trusted and citizens do not see that they have a stake in their country and its future.
  • Lack of Technological Capability:
    • Technological Capability is the extent to which countries access, utilize, and create science and technology for the solution of socio- economic problems. To be a part of that world, there must be science and technology elements in the development process. Unfortunately most African Countries lacks it.
    • Most African countries have not been able to change the structure of their economy since political independence and still rely on the export of raw materials such cocoa, gold, timber, bauxite, diamond, manganese and oil, all in the raw form. There is hardly any value addition.
  • Education and R&D:
    • Most African countries spend almost next to nothing on Research and Development. No country ever developed by borrowing to build infrastructure.
    • It appears that educated Africans do better outside Africa than in Africa. There are a number of Africans who are contributing to the development of the United States in various fields. They are successful there because the systems are in place to absorb them. Most African countries do not have meaningful development strategies and so are not able to identify specialists they need to absorb for the development of the nations.
    • Worse still, a lot of African intellectuals are unable to get together to offer solutions to national problems. Rather they align themselves according to their individual tribal, political, religious and other affiliations and seek their own welfare even if that will not be in national interest.
  • Neo-Colonialism:
    • Neocolonialism is the geopolitical practice of using capitalism, business globalization, and cultural imperialism to influence a country, in lieu of either direct military control or indirect political control, i.e. imperialism and hegemony.
    • The neo-colonial involvement of colonial powers in decolonised counties in economic, political and other matters, with the U.S., as the leading country of the world, in practise, the principal neo-colonialist political actor.
    • France still interferes too much in political matters of its ex-colonies in Africa and keep them dependent for its own benefits.
    • Dependency theory is the theoretic basis of economic neo-colonialism, which proposes that the global economic system comprises wealthy countries at the center, and poor countries at the periphery.
      • Economic neo-colonialism extracts the human and the natural resources of a peripheral poor country to flow to the economies of the wealthy countries at the center of the global economic system; hence, the poverty of the peripheral countries is the result of how they are integrated in the global economic system.
    • Investment by multinational corporations enriches few in underdeveloped countries, and causes humanitarian, environmental and ecological devastation to the populations which inhabit the neocolonies whose development and economy is now dependent on foreign markets and large scale trade agreements. This results in unsustainable development and perpetual underdevelopment; a dependency which cultivates those countries as reservoirs of cheap labor and raw materials, while restricting their access to advanced production techniques to develop their own economies.
    • Recently China has been involved in neo-colonialism in Africa. Chinese investors made deals with the government of African countries to mine its natural resources. They even brought Chinese workers instead of giving skills to locals. Also instances of corruption, labor abuse, and criminal cover ups began to set the relationship between the Chinese and the Africans aflame.
    • To ensure a reliable, long-term supply of food stuffs, the Chinese and South Korean government and powerful Chinese and Korean multinational corporations have bought the exploitation rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in under-developed countries.
  • Lack of Faith and Confidence:
    • Loss of faith in the major institutions such as the judiciary and law enforcement agencies generally.
    • There is an alarming breakdown of traditional values and discipline; corruption is more or less institutionalized and no serious attempts are being made to fight it.
    • There is total disregard for environmental sanitation.
    • Africans do not seem to have the confidence to lift themselves out of their misery and are looking to foreigners to solve their problems for them.
    • Most Africans do not see any virtue in working for the future of their countries in the spirit of nation building.
    • Most Africans feel that they have sacrificed enough without any improvements in their lives. There is a general realization that each time they sacrificed, their lives got worse off because governments always took them and their sacrifices for granted.
    • When leaders fail to achieve any appreciable success they give up any hope of improving the lives of the generality of the population and result to amassing wealth for themselves, their families and friends.
  • Other problems in 1980s:
    • In the 1980s the whole of Africa was beset by economic and natural disasters. The world recession reduced demand for African exports such as oil, copper and cobalt, and there was a severe drought (1982-85) which caused crop failures, deaths of livestock famine and starvation.
    • By late 1980s, Africa, like the rest of the world, was suffering from a severe debt crisis, and at the same time had been forced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to economize drastically return for further loans.
      • In a number of cases the IMF prescribed the ESAP (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme) which the country had to follow. Often this forced them to devalue their currency and reduce food price subsidies, which led to increased food prices at a time when unemployment was rising and wages were falling. Governments were also forced to cut their spending on education, health and social services as part of the austerity programme.
    • In the mid- 1980s most of the countries of Africa began to experience HIV/AIDS which by 2004 had reached pandemic proportions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

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