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Goodrich Tshuma MPA 514 African Philosophy Dr E.O. Ekwueme, SJ 9 December 2018

Towards A New Model for Economic Development in Africa

Why is the current model of African economic development not working?

Africa is still the only continent, which still relies heavily on foreign aids. Dambisa

Moyo a Zambian economist in her book ‘Dead Aid’ affirms this claim. She argues that in the

past half of the century, African has received 1 trillion money of aid as cash inflow (Moyo

37). In fact, she asserts that the current model of development in most African countries is

based on foreign aids and it relies on developed market model of economic development.

This model of development is flawed because it imitates what the rich does, rather than doing

what the rich did to get rich. In his speech to the Thirty-nine Session of the United Nations

General assembly in New York, Thomas Sankara challenged educated Africans to make

efforts for inventing new concepts for development suitable to African context rather than

embracing western ideas. According to Sankara,the monopoly of thinking should not be left

to the West, they should not be the ones accrediting whether our products fulfil standards

(Harsch 155). This paper evaluates how African model of development is flawed and how to

fix it. It looks at arguments of African nationalists like Thomas Sankara, Julius Nyerere,

Kwame Nkrumah and African economist Dambisa Moyo as they propose to find solutions

within Africa rather than subscribing to the culture of foreign aids.

Dambisa Moyo classifies aids received by African countries into three categories.

First, aids given as emergency such as natural disaster. Secondly, aids given to Africa

through NGOs, and lastly, government to government aids. This is given as donation or loan.

Moyo does not focus on the two first categories of aids not because she spares them from

critics, but because she wants to focus on the third type of aid. In past fifty years, money

pumped into African governments’ budgets is 100 billion dollars per year and this makes it

60 trillion dollars (Source). Yet, most of African populations still live on less than one dollar

per day. What then could be the solution to this problem?

According to Dambisa Moyo, there are many reasons why foreign aid for Africa has

never worked, is not working, and will never work. First, receivers misuse foreign aids. In

other words, most African leaders embezzle the money given as aid. How do they do that?

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Before the money reaches to the intent beneficiaries or project, leaders transfer good amount to their offshore accounts. Secondly, foreign aids are often invested on nonproductive sectors. Thus, at the end of it most of the projects funded by foreign aids are unsustainable. This leads to more lending, environmental degradation, and over dependence. , (Harsch 155). Thirdly, foreign aids undermine local peoples’ own criteria of development. It overlooks material, social and spiritual well-being of local people, as its implementers focus on the so- called donor will. In short, Foreign aids help most African countries survive and not realizing sustainable, life centered development (155). Sankara proposes the change of mindset of Africans. He argues that African leaders should stop living luxurious lifestyle; rather they should live a life of austerity. He highlights that foreign aids are not permanent, and that African intellectuals should help define policies that will limit dependence syndrome and make Africa a self-reliant continent. He asserts that Africa should only accept aids that help them get away with aids (Harsch 156). In his article An endogenous model to development’, Sankara advises African states to endorse an endogenous or a self-centered development as the process of economic, social, cultural, scientific and political transformation. According to him, African model of development has to be based on the mobilization of internal social forces, resources, knowledge, and experiences of the people. For Sankara, citizens should be active agents in the transformation of their society instead of remaining spectators outside of a political system inspired by foreign models (“Thomas Sankara” 1) What is Economic Development in African Perspective? At the independence, most African countries found themselves in a situation where poverty was deep-seated, resources were limited, population was rapidly growing, and the number of educated indigenous middle class was nearly non-existent. These realities forced most African nationalists to formulate ideologies that could help their respective countries address the aforementioned problems. Some of these African nationalists such as Nkrumah, Sekou Touré, Senghor, Sankara, and Nyerere adopted African socialism as their ideology. Although the adherents of the African socialism argued that, their notion of socialism was different from the Soviet Union’s, the Chinese, and the Marxist’s, their main objective was still essentially an attempt to resolve social and economic inequalities by controlling the means of production (Akyeampong). They believed that true economic and social development could only be realized if means of production were socialized (Nkrumah).

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According to them, Africanized socialism could speedup nation building, promote equitable distribution of resources, increase citizen’s well-being, create a well-balanced social relationship amongst citizens, and more importantly bring about economic development. Given that most of these African Socialists were well versed with Marxism and Fabianism, it goes without saying that they considered economy as the base structure of the society. That is why most of them emphasized on industrialization and agriculture as the main drives for economic development. However, what did they understand as economic development? Considering that, ones understanding of development is more often than not shaped by values and ideologies one holds, I can confidently say that development for most African Socialists was life centered. That is, economic development should satisfy peoples’ basic need, and in doing so, it must realize the interconnectedness of things. Of my interest, however is what are peoples’ basic needs and who decides them? According to Max-Neef, fundamental human needs are ‘ontological facts of life’. Unlike human ‘wants’ that are infinite, commensurable, and insatiable, fundamental human needs are few, finite, classifiable, universal, and often a source of people’s motivation (181). Max-Neef identifies a set of these needs and classifies them into nine categories, namely subsistence, protection, affection, understanding, participation, creation, leisure, identity, and freedom (203). Each of this need has a number of satisfiers. For example, food and shelter are the satisfiers of the subsistence need. Despite the fact that fundamental needs are universal, they are satisfied differently by different societies (Max-Neef 200). Thus, i argue that as Sankara suggested African nations and intellectuals should develop proper and adequate structures for deciding and satisfying fundamental needs of its people (Max-Neef). Keeping in mind the reality of modern African states, i think that deliberative democracy is the best method available for deciding what counts as people’s basic needs. This is mainly because deliberative democracy allows people to dialogue. In other words, it gives room to what Habermas calls ‘communicative reason’ (Habermas). This allows people of diverse culture, beliefs; social, economic, and political affiliations come together and dialogue. This is important because most people are involved directly or represented. I am aware that as practiced now, democracy is flawed. However, I also think that we should not cast blame on the ideology; rather blame the implementers. Moreover, deliberative democracy would not be alien to Africans; Edward Wamala most African traditional society had Palaver, where communal issues were discussed. At Palaver, people were allowed to

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disagree, but that did not dissuade members from the main objectives of the meet. Thus, basic human needs for a country should be decided through dialogue and conversation.

Challenges to the Proposed Model In this last part of my presentation, i will attempt to identify and discuss some foreseen challenges that the newly proposed model of economic development will face. Echoing Sankara’s insights, I begin by positing that the proposed model of economic development will fail if women and other disadvantaged groups are secluded. Secondly, I posit that in the absence of proper and careful planning our model of development is bound to fail. And as a third challenge, i agree with African socialists that capitalism as understood now by most countries is problematic. It hinders true development. To understand better why seclusion of women and other minority groups is detrimental to my new model of economic development, one has to keep in mind what Sankara once uttered. In a speech where he acknowledges the role played by women during revolution, Sankara emphatically argues that revolution could not have been possible without unquantifiable role of women. In the speech, he expresses his disappointment that women were still under many forms of exploitations. That they are not conspicuously visible in the public sphere where issues and decisions affecting the entire community are taken. That they still lack economic power. That society still makes them feel inferior to male citizen. For Sankara women situation has been worsen by capitalism and Africa’s adoption of foreign ideologies. According to Sankara, as long as women were illiterate, economically dependent, politically uneducated; and as long as the government through its different ministries did not take serious measures to empower them, their situation would not change. They will remain subjugated. Thus, discrimination based on gender is detrimental to our model of economic development because it will be not inclusive. In his speech, ‘Who are the Enemies of the People’, Sankara implicitly argues that the enemy of the people are the enemy of development. According to him, internal enemies of development dislike unity and hate democracy. They enrich themselves by taking advantage of their social and bureaucratic positions. They evade taxation. They pay bribe and condone corruption. They forge documents and fraud the government. They promote ‘ism,that is, favouritism, sexism, racism, and henceforth.… As for external enemies, these are the neo- colonialists and imperialists, along with unpatriotic citizen helping neo-colonialists to flourish. The favourite game of these external enemies being land grabbing, tax evasion, and

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bribery. To achieve their objectives, they change narratives to suit their interest and rallying people against the government. In many African countries, patriarchy, as denounced by Sankara, is among the greatest challenge to development. In a patriarchal system, women are overexploited.

Although they devote several hours to housework (cooking, care of children and adult

kind of work is not valued because it does not involve a financial return. The consequence is that those who work outside the household and who receive a salary, that is to say essentially men, find themselves in a position of domination. Another characteristic of a patriarchal system is the difficulty for woman to claim their rights in a society where customary laws favour men over women. A typical example concerns the right to land inheritance. Even in countries where women's rights are most respected, as in Rwanda, the right of women to inheritance remains a taboo subject. Lastly, domination-based relationships produce a discourse that represents social inequalities as natural. In such a society, subjugation of women is easily justified and the non-participation of women in the country's development is not felt as a problem. Only men are considered the engine of development. The second great challenge to the proposed model of development is capitalism. It has been incorporated into socialism. If men suffer from capitalism, Sankara said, women suffer more. In a capitalistic society, women are underpaid. The reason being that they are considered less productive: because of their physical makeup, they spend some time on leave for pregnancy, maternity leave, caring for the relatives… These reason are used to explain why a woman gets a lower a salary compared to a man even if they are equally qualified. Capitalism benefits from this injustice. Comanne holds that in women’s workers, capitalism has “a cheaper, more flexible labour pool that can be used or laid off according to market fluctuations”. This enables capitalists, Comanne adds, “to bring down rates of pay generally”. This analysis applies also to marginalized groups in all societies. Capitalism exploits them for its profit and maintain them in chronic poverty. In a new model of development, empowering economically women and marginalized people will be beneficial for the nation and the whole continent. The lack of planning and looting of the nation is the third threat to the development model that we have proposed. In many African countries, agriculture, the sector where women and peasants are more active is neglected. If those who spend a lot of time in fields are not encouraged (mostly women) no development is possible. To end poverty and hunger, a report of World Bank suggests, there is need to help women’s access to productive

), this

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resources and (seeds, fertilizer, extension services) technologies, including land. In other words, neglecting the development of agriculture and not empowering agents involved in this sector is a threat to development. Lack of planning can concern all sectors: health, education, justice, security… To give a concrete example, a few days ago, the Burundi minister of education admitted that trades education was not well thought out by her ministry (November 2018). According to the Minister's comments, the following elements were not taken into account: the number of teachers required, their intellectual level, the duration of teaching, etc. This kind of confession is constantly heard from officials who, instead of seating and plan for the development of the country, are busy fulfilling the agenda of their political parties (Fanon), looting the country to the expense of nation development. Lack of planning affects the way governments respond to basic human needs we identified above: security, participation, freedom and others. This lack of planning reflects the lack of vision. “This short-sighted bourgeoisie lacks vision and inventiveness” (Fanon 119). Yacouba and Wologueme warn that, “A man without vision is likely going to fulfil somebody else’s vision unconsciously. Likewise, a people without vision is ready to be exploited by another”. As China is becoming the guest of honour in Africa, it is high time to revisit the speeches of Sankara, Nkrumah, Fanon to learn how to respond to the “adaptability” of this big country and to the ever-changing nature of patriarchy and capitalism if we want our model of development to win.

Cited sources

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Akyeampong, Emmanuel. "African Socialism: Or the Search for African Model for Economic Developmet." African Economic History Network (2017).

Comanne, Denise. How Patriarchy and Capitalism Combine to Aggravate the Oppression of Women. Accessed 11 Nov.


Dembélé, Demba Moussa. Thomas Sankara: An Endogenous Approach to Development.

/pan-africanism/thomas-sankara-endogenous-approach-development. Accessed 11 Nov. 2018. Diop, Makhtar. “How Empowering Women Can Help End Poverty in Africa.” Nasikiliza, 28 Jan. 2015, end-poverty-africa. Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2007. Habermas, Jürgen. The Theory of Communicative Action Volume 1: Reason and the Rationalization of Society. Beacon Press, 1987. Library Genesis,


Harsch, Ernest. Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary. Ohio University Press, 2014.

Print. Nkrumah, Kwame. African Socialism Revisited by Kwame Nkrumah 1967.

revisited.htm. Accessed 5 Nov. 2018. Max-Neef, Manfred. "Development and human needs." Real-life Economics Understanding Wealth Creation. Ed. Paul Ekins and Manfred Max-Neef. Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2001. 197-213. Moyo, Dambisa. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Sankara, Thomas. “The Revolution Cannot Triumph without the Emancipation of Women.” Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987, 2nd edition, Pathfinder Press, 2007. ---. “Who Are the Enemies of the People?” Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987, 2nd edition, Pathfinder Press, 2007. Yacouba, Coulibaly, and Belko Wologueme. “From the Failure of African Socialism, How to Set a New Trend for a New Generation?” Open Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 06, Jan. 2018, p. 27., doi:10.4236/jss.2018.62003.