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African-American Countries Relationship Essay

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Updated: Apr 23rd, 2020

Introduction

There has always been a controversy over the causes of continuing African problems. African countries blame their counterparts from the West and United States on their deteriorating development, what they term as exogenous factors while on the other hand the Western countries together with US maintain that the crisis in the African continent is caused by the continent itself.

The following discussion will try to shed some light on the issue and establish which side is telling the truth, whether the crisis in Africa can be solved and whether the two sides can address the problems jointly.

This is because the continent has lagged behind in terms of development and a lot need to be done to improve the livelihoods of so many Africans. This has led to the emergence of “Adjustment with Growth” ((Wheeler 76) by the Bretton Woods Institutions, that confirms the past errors of the African governments.

It emphasizes that stabilization is not sufficient for the growth process to take place and that African states need external resources in terms of finance in order to achieve their development objectives (International Monetary Fund and World Bank 261).

This is where the two Bretton Institutions fulfill one of their underlying principles for their establishment; provision of sufficient liquidity to the needy countries so that they may not resort to other costly adjustments because of short-term balance of payment shortage. However, this liquidity should not be so much to lead to allocation of funds into less-prioritized areas.

Contradicting opinions

There are two differences over the continuing existence of African’s economic woes. Two reports give contradicting opinions. There is report on ‘Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa’ by Elliot Berg, which blames Africa’s economic problems on domestic errors, and it asserts that improvement of agricultural performance is important to produce enough food for the Africans.

Another report by Organization of African Unity (OAU), ‘Lagos Plan of Action’ blames the woes solely on historical, structural and external factors. Though there is a continued debate about the two reports, they seem to have a genuine agenda for the continent; these agenda have neither been translated into concrete actions nor incorporated in the national development plans. The reasons cited are either ignorance of the lack of requirements for Lagos action and lack of political will.

Africans are characterized by the major weakness in this context, that they have since been formulating constructive plans and agenda but the actual implementation is not taking place. The leaders lack total commitment in putting the development agenda of the continent first but instead put more emphasis on strategies of ensuring how they will forever remain in power.

With reference to the case study, Africa is faced with so many serious problems that can only be solved in sequences since handling all of them simultaneously may not be possible.

Some of these problems include high population growth rates, which at times is a double digit, lack of prioritization of their development agenda, inefficient operation of state corporations, coupled with massive corruption, huge debt burden that is enlarging annually, poor domestic policy reforms and lack of provision of appropriate incentives for agricultural advancement.

Coming with long-term solutions to these problems may prove to be impossible and therefore, policy-makers are suggesting measures for the immediate future to save the continent from perishing. One of the most affected sectors in African continent is the Agricultural sector.

Causes of African Crisis and Agricultural Situation in the African Continent

According to the case study, a contentious issue is whether the African problems are caused by the internal or exogenous factors. However, policymakers disregard this argument and advocate for the seeking of the problem to the issue rather than the cause.

Bretton Institutions point out there is need to establish the cause of the problem because in the event that it is going to be involved in taking up the appropriate measures, it will ensure there is equitable cost-sharing between the creditor and the debtor. In addition, establishing the cause is important in order to identify the previous components of policies that need to be altered. Some studies indicate that exogenous factors played a significant role in deteriorating African performance after 1979.

Environmental constraints rather than policy variables were relied on in explaining Africa’s economic downturn (Wheeler 77). Agriculture is the backbone of the continent’s economy. Despite this fact, it is carried out in the most unproductive manner according to the case study. The price elasticity of supply in Africa is extremely low.

Promising improvements in yields rather than price increment can boost the performance of Agriculture to a better level. This is because price focus alone is not sufficient. Provision of production supportive tools like agricultural incentives, extension services, and irrigation facilities may motivate farmers to produce more (Green 16).

The big question has been whether more support should be accorded to small farmers or progressive farmers to increase their production. Giving pride to small farmers and adjusting the policies to suit their interests may not be an easy task (Bates 77). He argues that pricing and other policies may best work in large agricultural political elite; therefore, small farmers should merge themselves into large groups or cooperatives and enjoy the associated benefits.

The farmers should also be provided with agricultural inputs and ready market for their produce. Another problem attributing to decline in agricultural productivity is that the research has always been channeled to the export crops at the expense of food crops-colonial emphasis calls for fairer distribution of research expenditure and more attention must be paid to Africa’s three principal staple cereals; maize, sorghum and millet (Berg 115).

The agricultural research institutions are poorly run; the workers are under-qualified, unproductive and overpaid. There should be extensive reforms in these institutions to enhance service delivery.

Industrial and Export Situation in African Continent

The pace at which industrialization has taken place in Africa is questionable. In 1981, the continent’s share of global manufacturing was estimated to be 0.54 percent (Bates 77). Africa’s industrial situation is characterized by use of inappropriate and poor technology as well as production of inferior commodities. The declined industrial performance is also believed to have been perpetrated by the import-substitution process, a form of protection granted to the infant industries for their survival.

There has always been the issue of privatization of the industrial sector because of the allegations that public institutions are performing poorly. This has not changed the situation and there is even empirical evidence that countries like Nigeria and Kenya that relied very much on privatization have not gone far as far as industrialization is concerned.

As for the exports, most of the continent’s exports consist of primary products (mainly agricultural produce) whose prices are poor and sometimes the market prices cannot meet the costs of production. This has led to the poor exchange rates against the continent’s currency.

My Opinion As Far As Africa’s Crisis Is Concerned (Conclusion)

Despite exogenous factors playing a role in perpetrating the African economic and development problems, the significant one is played by the internal factors. From the internal factors perspective, African leaders and African inhabitants have never been serious in achieving the set out development objectives. The leaders are greedy, corruption is so rampant in public institutions and the available resources are misallocated.

This has led to the accumulation of the continent’s wealth in the hands of few individuals while leaving the majority of people perishing. Policies formulated are poor and do not address the problems faced by the majority of people but instead favor the rich. Actually, the widest gaps between the poor and the rich are witnessed in African countries.

The continent’s manufacturing sector is very poor and most of its imports consist of mainly capital and manufactured goods that cost the importers huge amounts of money thus affecting their balance of payment positions. Another contribution of the internal factors is the climatic conditions. Most of the continent’s area does not receive adequate rainfall and there has not been appropriate technology to tap the little available water. There is prevalence of crop and livestock diseases, which is affecting productivity in these areas.

The external factors include the policies coming from foreign countries and especially the ones coming along with foreign aid. African countries are discriminated against in making decisions in international forums for instance World Bank and IMF and the policies formulated are in favor of the rich developing nations.

Countries like US use substantial amount of its budget to subsidize agricultural production that lead to falling world prices thus killing inefficient producers in African continent. There are also conditions to be fulfilled before financial aid is given, for example privatization of some state firms, which is not profitable.

Works Cited

Bates, Robert. Markets and states in tropical Africa. California: University of California Press, 1981.Print.

Berg, Robert. The long-run future of donor planning, monitoring and evaluation in development. Washington: Prentice Hall, 1980.Print.

Green, Reginald, and Allison, Caroline. The World Bank’s agenda for accelerated development. New York: Macmillan, 1984. Print.

Wheeler, David. Sources of stagnation in Sub-Saharan Africa in World Development. New York: Oxford, 1984.

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