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Why Africa is a Hole

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There was a time when all third world countries were, essentially, miserably backward holes that no one wanted anything to do with. And it wasn't that long ago either. But a lot of countries have made a lot of progress in the last fifty years throughout Asia, and Central and South America. Africa has, if anything, gotten worse.

The paternalistic left likes to whine about how much intervention there has been by the West in the Muslim world, and how much better it would be without. But Africa, and it's small, unimportant countries, is a land which the West has largely ignored, and if anything, it's worse off than the Muslim world. The corruption is endemic, the incompetence, universal. And the interest by African governments in improving the lot of their people, nearly non-existent. Of the poorest people in the world, 4 out of 5 live in Africa. And nothing there is getting any better. South Africa, which was something of a hope while Mandela was around, is rapidly deteriorating into just another corrupt African basket case of poverty and violence.

What, if anything, can be done to reverse this state of affairs? I can't imagine anything that would come without violence, and given the nature of African leadership, anything which will arise from them. Either a massive revolution and wars, or outside intervention would be necessary. I'd love to see what an outside force or agency, even a return to colonial status would do for some African counries.

Whatever country you care to name in Africa, you’ll find that the public interest – the idea of working for the collective wellbeing, doing something because it is good for people and for country – has become an alien concept.

http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/adam-the-death-of-the-common-good-in-africa

"The average African is poorer than during the age of colonialism. In the 1960s African elites/rulers, instead of focusing on development, took surplus for their own enormous entourages of civil servants without ploughing anything back into the country,"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3679706.stm

“more people are murdered in one week under African rule than died under detention of the Afrikaner government over the course of roughly four decades.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/398136/end-south-africa-josh-gelernter

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The 'paternalistic left-wingers' of 19th century said similar things about Africa as modern ones do about Middle-East. They were as critical about the racism and imperialism of the time as left-wing intellectuals are today about their social commentary of the Middle-East.

Give it about 100 years. Once the exploitation of the Middle-East comes to an end the way exploitation of Africa came to an end, the Middle-East will be in ruins very much like current day Africa.

I've been saying exactly that for 20 years now. I saw the parallels right after the first Gulf War.

PS, what a lovely title to choose for your thread.

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The 'paternalistic left-wingers' of 19th century said similar things about Africa as modern ones do about Middle-East.

The colonialism of that time was hardly a good thing for the African people. Among its chief evils was redesigning the political map without regard to who was living where, and whether those people felt much brotherly love towards one another. But another of the evils was when it was suddenly withdrawn with little to no preparation of the beleaguered 'countries' involved. Generally, whoever was a favored son of the colonial powers got to be the new president, and then promptly did away with anything resembling democracy. There were few university graduates, and no culture of democratic will or compromise in new countries which suddenly found themselves with multiple tribes who had been at war prior to the colonial power taking over. They were expected to cooperate?

You can complain about my rude words towards modern Africa or talk about the past all you want, but the fact is Africa is a pesthole (being polite) of incompetent, dictatorial and corrupt government without a hint that it won't be the same way a century from now. So the question is what do do to improve things. And there are only two things I can think of. One is removing the crutch which props up so much incompetent government. That is, banning all foreign aid. Let them sink or swim on their own. Most will sink, of course, and then the incompetent, corrupt governments will be overthrown by the mob. The other thing to do is to have them taken over by a benevolent foreign power, maybe the UN, which will build roads, build up industry and agriculture, and build schools and universities to train a future generation of African leaders. Their arbitrary and often unnatural borders could be redrawn at the same time.

Edited by Argus

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The colonial era in Africa didn't last very long and maybe that is part of the problem. The region was Balkanized into un homogeneous regions without the foundations of successful democracies being laid. In short, they were set up to fail. If you compare the African countries with say India where the opposite happened and a lot of independent little states were joined under a colonial government and there was a long established colonial infrastructure with a mostly competent civil service and large numbers of well educated Indian professionals, Indians ran with the concept after independence when large numbers of so called experts were expecting them to fail.

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...You can complain about my rude words towards modern Africa or talk about the past all you want, but the fact is Africa is a pesthole (being polite) of incompetent, dictatorial and corrupt government without a hint that it won't be the same way a century from now. So the question is what do do to improve things.

But this view is part of the problem...same view has often been expressed concerning "aboriginals" in the Americas. Judging Africa and Africans by "western" standards doesn't do much for the people actually living and dying there.

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But Africa, and it's small, unimportant countries, is a land which the West has largely ignored, and if anything, it's worse off than the Muslim world.

Africa is not ignored by the west world, the poverty is made by the west.

IMF's four steps to damnation
Step One is privatisation. sell-offs of state industries,
Step Two is capital market liberalisation. In theory this allows investment capital to flow in and out
Step Three: market-based pricing - a fancy term for raising prices on food, water and cooking gas. This leads, predictably, to Step-Three-and-a-Half: what Stiglitz calls 'the IMF riot'.
Step Four: free trade. This is free trade by the rules of the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, which Stiglitz likens to the Opium Wars. 'That too was about "opening markets",'
In the Opium Wars, the West used military blockades. Today, the World Bank can order a financial blockade, which is just as effective and sometimes just as deadly.
'It's a little like the Middle Ages,' says the economist, 'When the patient died they would say well, we stopped the bloodletting too soon, he still had a little blood in him.'

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Step One is privatisation. sell-offs of state industries

State industries which, in most cases, do not have the capital or knowledge needed to upgrade their facilities or expand their capabilities. Look at Venezuela's oil industry as an example of what happens to state industries controlled by incompetent governments.

Step Two is capital market liberalisation. In theory this allows investment capital to flow in and out

If new capital was not required then IMF would not be involved. Capital has to come from somewhere.

Step Three: market-based pricing - a fancy term for raising prices on food, water and cooking gas.

Food, water and cooking gas do not magically appear from no where. Someone has to pay to produce and distribute them. If a government does not have the money to pay for such things then it must rely on private sector operators to fill the gap. This can only happen with market based pricing. Of course, the governments could do nothing and watch their country collapse as they run out of money (which is what is happening in Venezuela).

In the Opium Wars, the West used military blockades. Today, the World Bank can order a financial blockade, which is just as effective and sometimes just as deadly.

So if a country borrows money, refuses to pay it back the response for lenders should be what exactly? Lend more money with no strings attached? That makes no sense. Once China gets burned a few times on its overseas investments it will act no differently because there is no other rational reaction. Edited by TimG

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To get into a meaningful discussion about the plethora of failed African states one would surely have to take an in depth review of IMF policies and their relation to economic difficulties many of these nations experience.

Its a complicated issue examining how the IMF actually has policies that entrap nations into third world cycles of poverty and brain drain where the future hope of these nations, its professionals because of IMF policies head to the first world.

Certainly the policies of mega-national corporations and their control of such nations has to be looked at as do the foreign policies of the EU, US, Russia, Japan and China for example. China's strangle hold on the oil and livelihood of Sudan, Mozambique and Angola is an excellent example of how it keeps these nations captive and down and out or its never ending need for copper from Africa.

Organized crime and mega nationals other than the Chinese are also responsible, i.e., look at the blood in Congo over diamonds and copper.

Then we have countries like South Africa where someone is raped every two seconds and black on black violence is as real as it gets. It has a corupt government. Who is to blame for that, the West?

How about next door in the hell of Mugabe's nation? He slaughtered anyone and everyone who could read in Zimbabwe causing thousands of his black citizens to flee because they were teachers or had education. He deliberately created a nation of illiterates who could not question him and the collective farms all now going to waste. There was enough in Zimbabwe alone, let alone another failed nation Uganda or South Africa to feed all of Africa. Uganda has been riddled with tribal slaughter and who is to blame for that?

Is aids which has wiped out so many the fault of the West?

Do we blame Muslim terrorism that causes genocide and slaughter in Niger, Chad, Dhomey, Malawi, Central African Republic, Senegal, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia on the West?

How long do we blame the British of French? How long do we blame others until we say, the violence in Nigeria, is that because of the West? Yes at one point trendy leftists blamed the Biafra civil war on greedy Shell oil propping its government and refusing to give Biafrans a share of the oil revenue. Now?

Did Libya implode because of the West? We know Col. Ghaddafi was a CIA propped puppet

However is the corruption in Tunisia, Morrocco, Algeria soley the resolute of Westerners?

The reality is colonialist nations no longer directly control African nations. The IMF does on behalf of financial syndicates of very large international corporations like Shell, Colgate-Palmolive, Nestles, Coca Cola and so on.

The tragedy of these nations is that foreign trade and banking interests make the independence of any nation anywhere an illusion,

What I am saying is some of this is IMF policies and the reality of a shrinking world and international trading markets now controlled by Chinese predatory pricing and investment syndicates in Europe or the US, but some of it is a failure of such nations to prevent a brain drain sucking their futures away cause by corrupt governments.

Its a vicious cycle this brain drain as is foreign aid which ends up in the hands of organized criminals, terrorists not to mention the off shore bank accounts of corrupt leaders.

I personally think its naïve to blame simply the West as much as I do its naïve to simply blame Africans. The average African is no more in charge of economic policies than any of us are in Canada. They are born into what they are born into and most starve to death or die of diseases before they can do anything,

Edited by Rue

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But this view is part of the problem...same view has often been expressed concerning "aboriginals" in the Americas. Judging Africa and Africans by "western" standards doesn't do much for the people actually living and dying there.

The average lifespan of Africans has gotten lower since the end of colonial times, not higher. Isn't that a pretty universal indication of how things have deteriorated?

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The average lifespan of Africans has gotten lower since the end of colonial times, not higher. Isn't that a pretty universal indication of how things have deteriorated?

Perhaps, but that metric is not confined to Africa. Life expectancy has declined in many parts of the world during different periods and circumstances having nothing to do with colonialism.

https://public.tableau.com/s/gallery/life-expectancy-country-impact-war-and-other-disasters

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Perhaps, but that metric is not confined to Africa. Life expectancy has declined in many parts of the world during different periods and circumstances having nothing to do with colonialism.

https://public.tableau.com/s/gallery/life-expectancy-country-impact-war-and-other-disasters

You're giving me a cite about how disaster, ethnic slaughter and war impact life expectancy?

Yes, no doubt there have been a lot of times and places where lifespans have gotten lower. Those tend to be very badly run dictatorships.

I'm not sure how that supports your contention I'm being insensitive to African customs and desires unless you're going to suggest Africans WANT to die younger.

Edited by Argus

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You're giving me a cite about how disaster, ethnic slaughter and war impact life expectancy?

...but I have also given you a "cite" that demonstrates life expectancy increased after colonial rule...depends on a lot of other factors.

Yes, no doubt there have been a lot of times and places where lifespans have gotten lower. Those tend to be very badly run dictatorships.

Could be....haven't checked the correlation or compared to democratic rule. Russian life expectancy went down down post Cold War...it's not in Africa.

I'm not sure how that supports your contention I'm being insensitive to African customs and desires unless you're going to suggest Africans WANT to die younger.

I am only suggesting that "western" benchmarks and expectations may not always apply to other regions or cultures, particularly when shorter term, acute issues must be addressed. Maybe the Japanese feel the same way about lower life expectancy in North America.

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The road out of extreme poverty was not obvious in the African continent until recently......... It is globalization. Turning 7 billion+ humans into middle class consumers requires an underclass/large pool of semi-skilled labour who will work for less money in poor working conditions. Until recently China and other parts of Asia(starting with Japan post WW2) have done that, but inevitably Africa will be that source as production costs in Asia rise.

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but inevitably Africa will be that source as production costs in Asia rise.

This is not inevitable because it is not enough to have cheap labour. Government must be able to supply reliable infrastructure and predictable rules. Africa falls short. Second, automation has advanced to the point where tasks which used to require thousands of low skilled workers are now being done by robots. This gives companies alternatives to putting up with the hassles of dealing with a corrupt and/or inept government. Edited by TimG

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The road out of extreme poverty was not obvious in the African continent until recently......... It is globalization. Turning 7 billion+ humans into middle class consumers requires an underclass/large pool of semi-skilled labour who will work for less money in poor working conditions. Until recently China and other parts of Asia(starting with Japan post WW2) have done that, but inevitably Africa will be that source as production costs in Asia rise.

Don't know where this come from, it is obviously lie. Think about the history of west behaviour, and west media behaviour, this is understandable.

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This is not inevitable because it is not enough to have cheap labour. Government must be able to supply reliable infrastructure and predictable rules. Africa falls short. Second, automation has advanced to the point where tasks which used to require thousands of low skilled workers are now being done by robots. This gives companies alternatives to putting up with the hassles of dealing with a corrupt and/or inept government.

I don't think Africa's way forward is high technology and globalization. They need to start with the basics, as you say, reasonable infrastructure, education, health care, and rebuilding their agricultural sectors. They need to get people out of the slums where they pick through garbage for food and back onto farms.

Edited by Argus

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This is not inevitable because it is not enough to have cheap labour. Government must be able to supply reliable infrastructure and predictable rules. Africa falls short. Second, automation has advanced to the point where tasks which used to require thousands of low skilled workers are now being done by robots. This gives companies alternatives to putting up with the hassles of dealing with a corrupt and/or inept government.

Corrupt government is clearly not an obstacle to investment, and never has been.

And consider the history of industrialization in Asian countries like...Japan post WW2, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, China, Taiwan etc. Recent, incremental

It has never been the case that some massive system of infrastructure investment was then followed by prosperity. It is incremental. And it will be in Africa. Chiba is a major player there right now because they recognize how and when it happens. It helps a lot to have arable land, and Africa has quite a bit that is underuitilized. The second and more difficult challenge is reliable energy, and no it does not require a huge international continental grid to kick it off.

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Corrupt government is clearly not an obstacle to investment, and never has been.

I never said it was an insurmountable barrier but it is a barrier. Especially now that a number of countries prosecute executives at home who give bribes overseas even if that is the only way to get anything done.

And consider the history of industrialization in Asian countries like...Japan post WW2, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, China, Taiwan etc. Recent, incremental

Asian countries developed during an ideal age: developed countries were willing and able to buy their cheap exports and few automation options meant cheap labour was a competitive advantage. That age is now gone as automation reduces and eventually eliminates the need for masses of cheap labour. Africa will not be able to duplicate what Asia did. Edited by TimG

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Africa has also experienced environmental interference from outsiders with their own agenda. To the enviros, development of resources for people is not a high priority. China has clearly been able to cut through much of that nonsense.

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I never said it was an insurmountable barrier but it is a barrier. Especially now that a number of countries prosecute executives at home who give bribes overseas even if that is the only way to get anything done.

Asian countries developed during an ideal age: developed countries were willing and able to buy their cheap exports and few automation options meant cheap labour was a competitive advantage. That age is now gone as automation reduces and eventually eliminates the need for masses of cheap labour. Africa will not be able to duplicate what Asia did.

You assume that the globalization push will come from countries in Europe or North America that have anti corruptuion laws? I think it is much more likely to come from China India Russia etc that don't care much about that sort of First World ethic.

Post WW2 was hardly an 'ideal time' for Japan. You'll recall that 'Made in Japan' was synonymous for cheap crap made by cheap labour.. The big wheel has certainly turned on that, more than once in the case of Japan. You are totally incorrect too to assume that goods made by robots are necessarily cheaper. The main purpose of robotics is to lower costs in First World countries, which have expensive labour and other inputs. A half billion $ Mitsubishi robot array is the answer in Yokohama or Oshawa assembly plant, but do not make the mistake of assuming it competes well with 1,000 Kenyan welders running generic Chinese welding equipment..

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I think it is much more likely to come from China India Russia etc that don't care much about that sort of First World ethic.

China wants resources from Africa. It has no interest in developing factories there. Russian is a spent force that has no impact other than as an arms exporter. India has lots of people at home that could use the work and has no incentive to go elsewhere.

the mistake of assuming it competes well with 1,000 Kenyan welders running generic Chinese welding equipment.

That is the past. Robotics will get cheaper as time goes on. We are in an age where people are talking seriously about a self driving car that consumers can afford. It only makes sense to assume those same advances will affect factories too. Even if a cost advantage continues to exist the dangers created by unstable governments will keep most companies away,

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Don't know where this come from, it is obviously lie. Think about the history of west behaviour, and west media behaviour, this is understandable.

Heck no its not a lie its his opinion and its well stated. Just say you disagree with it.

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China wants resources from Africa. It has no interest in developing factories there. Russian is a spent force that has no impact other than as an arms exporter. India has lots of people at home that could use the work and has no incentive to go elsewhere.

That is the past. Robotics will get cheaper as time goes on. We are in an age where people are talking seriously about a self driving car that consumers can afford. It only makes sense to assume those same advances will affect factories too. Even if a cost advantage continues to exist the dangers created by unstable governments will keep most companies away,

Right now China does not need cheap labour it has billions to enslave. However the Chinese government enslaves you and I. Its got us addicted to its inferior crap and slave labour. If something happens like a virus or internal civil war and it needs cheap labour it knows where to find it. You want enslaved cheap labour. Please go see how China uses Africans to extract copper, diamonds, precious metals, oil.

Edited by Rue

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