Underdevelopment in sub-Saharan Africa
Development in sub-Saharan Africa requires a new type of democracy that empowers not just the political elite but sub-Saharan Africas private-sector producers as well, according to Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs.
Currently, entrepreneurs in Africa are prevented from creating wealth by predatory political elites who control the state. The elites use marketing boards and taxation to divert agricultural savings to finance their own consumption and to strengthen the repressive apparatus of the state, says Moeletsi Mbeki.
In order for Africa to prosper, Mbeki recommends the following:
Peasants, who constitute the core of the private sector in sub-Saharan Africa, need to become the real owners of their primary asset land over which they currently have no property rights.
Peasants must be given direct access to world markets.
The producers must be able to auction their own cash crops, including coffee, tea, cotton, sugar, cocoa and rubber, rather than being forced to sell them to state-controlled marketing boards.
Sub-Saharan Africa needs new financial institutions, too. They must be independent of the political elite and capable of addressing the financial needs of not only peasants, but of other small- to medium-scale producers, as well.
In 2001, most African governments adopted the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD), which provides a framework for Africas development and emphasises the role of good governance in stimulating economic growth. While NEPAD may address some of the worst excesses of the political elites, it does not address the fundamental problem, says Mbeki.
If NEPAD is to contribute to Africas economic development, it must help redesign Africas political economy so it protects the rights of private-sector actors instead of rent-seeking political elites, says Mbeki.
Source: Moeletsi Mbeki, Underdevelopment in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of the Private Sector and Political Elites, Cato Institute, Foreign Policy Briefing No. 85, April 15, 2005.
For text: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=3728
For more on International: Institutions and Growth: http://www.ncpa.org/iss/int/
FMF Policy Bulletin/ 10 May 2005
Publish date: 17 May 2005
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.