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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Letters: Political opportunism and corruption breed underdevelopment

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Dear editor,

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Barely fifty years and counting since Africa gained independence from Europe, every effort to develop the continent has been constrained by the political opportunism and corruption of African leaders.

Who take advantage of circumstances with little regard for principle or what the consequences are for citizens.

This is happening at a time when other developing nations such as China, Brazil and India are making strong macroeconomic impact on the global economy.

The major determinants of underdevelopment in Africa is political opportunism aggravated by personal greed and corruption, the effect of corruption on development has not been clearly exhibited on the corruption perception index for sub Saharan Africa, but it has portrayed most African countries as low human development nations as evidenced by the most recent human development index.

It is mind blowing that with all the resources both human and natural at Africa’s disposal, it still remain the poorest continent in the world. And seem to be destined to remain so unless there is radical macroeconomic policy shift and attitudinal reorientation by particularly politicians and citizens to some extent.

In order to optimize resources and make the much sought after economic growth and development; the continent need strong leadership committed to good governance, rule of law, transparency and accountability.

Political patronage, sycophancy and nepotism some of most daring impediment to responsible governance, growth and development must not be seen to penetrate the politics of Africa, rather meritocracy must be the bases for appointments to key government positions and public institutions.

There is also the need to for strong independent judiciary.

Macroeconomic policy realignment and resource mobilization and stabilization focused and tailored to the African social cultural environment is crucial if the continent intend to attain economic independence, even though no country or continent can operate in ”autarky”.

Through various loan concessions, aid programs and budgetary support, the partnership with our western partner and recently China puts us in a disadvantaged position, because there are conditions attached this programs that entrap us to remain corrupted and poor and as such, we become unequal partners incapacitated by our dependence on foreign aid to enter into mutually beneficial agreement be it trade or otherwise with our counterparts. And the consequence of which is exploitation of our resources, since the center can not claim equality with the periphery. Often than not, African politicians sold our valuable resources to those who will grease their purse with few million dollars.

It is often said that, there is no honest politician, but what we lack is politicians with principle who put the greater good of their people before self and the long-term growth and development of the continent atop any bilateral or multilateral agreements on behalf of their populace.

To harness the demographic dividend, the continent must invest in youth capacity building as the it constitute 77 percent of Africa’s population.

It is estimated that the population of Africa by 2050 will consist of 25 percent of the world population, i.e,. 1 in every 4 persons of the world.

Compare that to that of the aging population of Asia and the West; Africa have a comparative advantage and hence there is vast opportunity to catch up and even surpass the Asian Giants and the west if proper policy guidelines are instituted that promote investment in youth through STEM( science,technology,engineering and mathematics).

A robust and comprehensive emphasis must be put on vocational education and training, as this will create employment and reduce poverty and consequently contribute towards the macroeconomic objective of economic growth and development.

In order to translate skill to gainful economic activities then governments in Africa must establish entrepreneurial banks and investment Agencies that seek to provide financing to productive, feasible and profitable business plans and proposals.

The private sector also plays a crucial role in channeling fund to those with productive use and therefore, can not be left behind as catalyst to stimulating economic growth and development.

Key among reasons responsible for inhibiting economic growth and development is Africa’s debt burden; the debt crisis seem to be magnifying in most African countries as DEBT to GDP ratio in most African countries are unsustainable often beyond 100 percent.

The debt management is an essential ingredient that can mitigate underdevelopment, as the cost of borrowing and debt servicing often take a huge chunk of revenues generated across the continent and leaves little or no space to finance development projects.

The ideal or prudent thing to do is to stop making concessionary loan agreement from western partners and China through their subsidiaries who camouflaged themselves as global finance houses, who in reality are made not only to protect but promote and enforce western macroeconomic policies that are often misleading and unsuitable in the African sociopolitical and economic environment.

The continent will do better if it establish an African Central bank that is funded by member countries to serve as finance houses and lending institutions to countries who may need loans at low interest rate, this will encourage circular flow of income within the sub region and negate currency flight.

Inter state trade liberation will also serve as growth driver, so there is need to little or no trade barriers and one common customs union to administer import and export trade with a synchronized tariff system, under this scheme much economic advancement could be gain with a single currency.

This will make trade cheaper and faster thereby reducing cost.

I must commend the ECOWAS member countries and African union for the faint step toward economic emancipation through their commitment to Africa’s economic integration and trade.

Without peace and security all this will not possible.

Invest in building the capacity of the security apparatus in Africa and information sharing and technical cooperation is very necessary, and can happen if there an African Security Council and and continental security force charged with restoring peace, democracy and respect for peoples rights.

The earlier all the African blocks come together as one unified institution under one umbrella with one common goal the better for the prospects of economic emancipation from the west and recently China.

Karamo Marena

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