[BLOG] African Development, The Road Map Demystified
A continent well-endowed with great amount of natural resources, ranging from, gold to humans” lives in a constant state of paradoxical confusion and uncertainty, anytime development is made mention of.
Major developmental theories propounded by developmental economists have consistently functioned in the development of western countries, but not Africa. It is time the African people view economic, social, religious, cultural and political development and stability through the African spectacle.
Development of a country cannot be considered devoid of underdevelopment. It is essential to note that in the course of identifying what a developed country is, one has to establish what characteristics defines a developed country, juxtaposing that the features of an underdeveloped country.
Today, a developed country has been identified as one characterised by the following features and more, stable geopolitical structure, low levels of unemployment, relatively low cost of living translating into high standards of living, relatively adequate macroeconomic indicators like low inflation and interest rates, high levels of productivity, and technologically advanced, just to mention a few. The attainment of these standards today seemingly has become a dream for African countries, rather than reality.
In recorded history, a country like America took over two hundred years with a more harmonious reasoning before they look what they are today. No wonder Dr. Mensah Otabil puts it that “Africa has a two hundred and fifty years developmental deficit”. Contemporary theoreticians of our time have argued along the lines of capitalism and socialism, as the catalyst of development depending on where the priorities of the country lie.
After the Second World War, renowned economists and leaders resulted to protectionist principles of leadership either leaning to the capitalist orientation as a basis for national development, or socialist orientation. This was imported into our systems of leadership by our leaders without considering the basic structures that underlie our own very economies and lives as a people.
The result of these subtly thought through decisions is what bedevil our continent today. Today on the African continent, we are still debating which of the supra mentioned principles or solutions to our macro-economic challenges is more appropriate to propel national and continental development. Let me put on record that, the connoisseurs of these principles themselves over the past thirty years or so have resulted to relevance and adequacy of policies rather than swallow hook line and sinker some dogmatic principles of policy making and direction.
A typical example is the decision taken by the United States of America led by President Barrack Hussein Obama in 2009 after the country was hit by the economic crises; the credit crunch in 2007. G-20 met at a summit in Canada in 2009 and passed a resolution that its member countries should not embark on expenditure with the objective of salvaging the economy but resort to resolutions passed at the summit for curtailing the economic menace. The Obama led administration defies this resolution and in 2009 bails out American Investment Group (AIG) with $700 million. As if that is not enough, it draws out a 1.5 trillion dollar bail out scheme for its economy all to be funded by government.
This was to save its economy from an imminent collapse. This is a country that is perceived to be capitalist oriented and believes in the empowerment of the people to fend for themselves, rather than provisions being made by the state, now defending its private companies and banks from collapse. This is a decision and policy that is said to be adequate and not leaning on any philosophical or national ideology.
If we are learning from the developed countries I think we will have to do it right and consider our own socioeconomic framework to determine how adequate our principles will be in solving our developmental issues.
After colonisation, there was the immediate need for people to assume leadership positions to hold the governing positions in the country. It was essential that philosophers, social scientist among others be trained for this purpose. After fifty years of grooming people for such professions, we are at a crossroad where our economies are suffering a great deal of reparation, because we are not developmentally oriented.
In international politics and power play between and among countries and continents, it is about economic power.
This provides the grounds for a country’s adequate strength for negotiations of terms of trade and economic sovereignty. It is important that every country seeking socioeconomic and political development, consider first and foremost a system that will ensure that is economically developed and all other forms of development will follow. China today is a superpower because it is strengthening its economy.
The developed countries all have strong economies and that is how come they will so much political power. Our leaders in Africa must therefore concentrate on economic development and every other thing will follow. How does economic development occur?-is the question we should be answering.
Economic development has been theoretically defined in so many contexts within the scope of academic work. I would want to bluntly describe it as a consistent, appreciable and comparative improvement in the economic wellbeing of the people of a given country.
In our part of the world plagued by high levels of illiteracy rates, the macroeconomic indicators do not really matter to the people, because they do not understand them. It is therefore essential that the direction of policy be really considered to bring a marginal and substantial improvement in the lives of the people in a country. Policy makers should therefore consider first and foremost, policies that will transform the economic well-being of the people in their micro lives, which will aggregately translate to an improvement in the economic development of the country.
Consequently this will provide the adequate grounds for the country to negotiate on the fore of international issues. This is what African leaders must be pursuing if the continent is to develop.
Today, we seek to develop yet policies are not directed at providing an adequate platform for entrepreneurial development, private sector is proclaimed to be the engine of growth yet, entrepreneurial education which will ensure and bring to the fore ingenious talents in creating businesses to solve our societal problems is missing from the educational system characterised by rigid learning by rote, which provides nothing but inadequate skills for entrepreneurial development.
Let me put on record that in today’s global village and information superhighway, entrepreneurial development in Africa must see practical steps taken by our leaders, through legislation, provision of security, funding for entrepreneurs and most importantly entrepreneurial education that will ensure that Africa will compete effectively and efficiently on the global market, which will translate into developmental blueprints in the history of its people.
Ghana considered as the gateway to economic development in Africa has its own unfortunate share of economic challenges. From 2010 to the first quarter of 2011, we have seen inflation rates drop to as low as 8.5%. We have also seen a decline in interest rates purported to motivate the individual business man to do business but this has not seen full fruition. Graduate unemployment rates have hit record high figures with no credible solutions-I believe with the right educational structure centred on entrepreneurial development, this could be controlled.
I therefore use this piece to appeal to all stakeholders who want to see Africa develop to note the following;
• Governments must channel their efforts to creating the enabling platform, through policy making and legislation, to ensure entrepreneurial development. They must also ensure that there are adequate systems, structure and funds to support our educational systems, creating a leveraged platform that will see the enhancement of entrepreneurial development.
• A comprehensive reformation of our educational system and academic curricular, to rather ensure that a direction, that elicits practical application of knowledge in the solving of our social and economic challenges. This will in turn create the platform for entrepreneurial development.
• A keen concentration on Agriculture and tourism. It is always better to identify what you have as a weapon, and use it in a battle field that to unfruitfully develop a weapon to match that of your enemy. Our strength as African countries lies extensively in Agriculture and tourism. I believe these are areas that our leaders and policy makers should concentrate on developing because these contribute enormously towards the Gross Domestic Product of our countries.
• Technological development can also be explored as an alternative for our continent. In an era where we in Africa import technologies at very expensive terms and conditions, which cripple our balance of payment accounts and threaten our economies, it is only prudent that we pursue technological development, with all sense of urgency. Appropriate technologies have been used over the years and they have seemingly provided benefits to the country. I am of the view that if we devote resources and attention in this area, we would identify technologies that will help improve our agricultural industry, and further advance our course of industrialization as a continent.
It will be gratifying to find that in the next few years to come, we the youth will be able to appreciate the relevance of our contribution towards changing the destiny of our continent, economically, just as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Haile Selassie and Nelson Madiba Mandela, changed our political destiny. Our realization of the fact that, our pursuit of economic sovereignty, will pave way for us to appreciate economic self-development, which will consequently empower us in contributing toward changing the fortunes of our countries and the continent, will bring joy to our very own souls.
African development can be achieved and it is achievable, so long as we have the road map or plan to demystify it, for it is written, failure to plan is equal to planning to fail. We must therefore understand what we want to achieve and then demystify the myths surrounding African development.