Philosophy Hammer
Philosophy, Economics, Politics & Psychology Tested with a Hammer

23 Things they Don't Tell You About Capitalism
By: Chang Ha-Joon
Major Topic: Economics
Minor Topic: Politics

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         Thing 11: Africa is Not Destined for Underdevelopment

         They tell us that Africa is doomed to always be needy and underdeveloped. They as us to consider all the reasons why: Africa has 1) poor weather, 2) bad geography, 3) small markets, 4) violent conflicts, 5) too many natural resources, 6) too many ethnic divisions, 7) corrupt institutions and 8) lazy cultures therefore it can never grow.

         However, they fail to mention that Africa was an economically growing continent not too long ago. Right after decolonization most African nations did alright with average growth rates at about the same level as in the developed world. Furthermore these structural problems that are claimed to slow Africa down are present in other developing and developed nations. Therefore it seems wrong to suggest that Africa will never grow.

         Consider that Africa has hot weather; but so do other successful countries such as Singapore and Israel. Consider that cold weather, snow and ice impose more difficulties and higher costs than hot weather therefore countries with cold climates should actually be poorer than those with hot climate.

         Consider that Africa has poor geography; but so do many other land locked countries in Europe like Switzerland, Austria and Luxemburg. Some of these countries also have very small markets and all of Europe was engaged in many long term wars and conflicts. There was a time when European and western institutions were also corrupt and inefficient. There was even a time when the various ethnic groups of Europe regarded each other as lazy and and doomed to be forever poor.

         The author's main point is that Africa does not need to be considered a lost cause. All the reasons for Africa's problems have been solved before and that means that they can be solved again – with proper economic policy.

         The truest and best explanation for Africa's poor growth since the eighties has been the free-market polices introduced at the behest of the west. The true problem in Africa has been the adoption of free-market liberalization too soon. Since in the sixties and seventies the African continent was developing steadily; it is possible to go back to steady growth.

         The author implies that the western institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF as well as the Structural Adjustment Programs who tried to modernize Africa have actually done more harm than good.

Added on: 2012-10-05 12:18:13
Text Crawl by: James Jeff McLaren
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