Sunday, October 27, 2013

African Development Past and Future

During the first couple of decades of independence from European rule the strategies for developing the economy followed two main paths. One path was heavily aid dependent and tended to follow from US and European images of Africa as described as the image to the left. As such it was always viewed more as charity or poor relief than actual assistance for indigenous development. Needless to say this strategy turned out to be largely unsuccessful. Another path sought to use the new institutions of the African state to develop the economy. This second path reached its logical conclusion in the 1970s and 1980s when Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique openly pursued development models copied from the USSR and Cuba. This path to development was disastrous especially in Ethiopia where like in the USSR during 1932-33 there was a massive famine resulting directly from the state's agricultural policies. While socialist health care and education have often been quite successful, socialist agriculture has largely been a colossal failure that has resulted in the premature deaths of tens of millions of people in the USSR, China, North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Ethiopia. This foreign model did not work any better in Africa than it did in Ukraine. The key to real development and prosperity in Africa is going to be Africans, not outsiders, creating the conditions that will allow the image of Africa on the right to flourish. This means better governance, less corruption, rule by law, protection of property, support for education, and other policies that will allow for indigenous economic growth. This isn't an easy task, but we already know a lot of what does not work so we are closer to finding out what does work.

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