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close this bookBottle-necks of Development in Africa (HABITAT)
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. The absence of peace and security.
View the document2. Destructive style of political and economic leadership
View the document3. A frustrated democratization process.
View the document4. Inadequate international cooperation
View the document5. Little technology transfer
View the document6. International debt
View the document7. Corruption
View the document8. The international market injures Africa
View the document9. Poverty
View the document10. Population pressure
View the document11. Sustained hunger and poor health
View the document12. Illiteracy and ignorance
View the document13. Over - use of foreign languages
View the document14. Destroyed traditional knowledge, and spiritual heritage.
View the document15. What then?

4. Inadequate international cooperation

Africa has been maligned and ridiculed by the same people who have exploited it and under-developed it. It continues to be marginalized politically and economically and even socially. There is lack of genuine support, cooperation and equal partnership from the rich international community especially now that the Cold War is over. There is more rhetoric than action despite the fact that everybody knows what the problems are since they are discussed in myriads words in books, magazines, evaluation reports and development plans, many of which are written by expatriates from the same international communities and aid agencies.

But as if to justify relief and financial aid, people from the rich countries are more willing to go to African to implement relief services like feeding emaciated infants, discover Africans dying of horrible diseases like AIDs and Ebola, be peace keepers in war-torn countries and send horrifying images of tragedies for television. Hardly any of the friends of Africa are willing to tackle the political and economic decisions being made in their own countries and which are partly responsible for the same horrible images brought to their living rooms by television. Relevant questions are deliberately avoided and those who ask them fall out of favour and become political targets. And therefore, those who are responsible for tragedies in Africa escape blame which is laid at the feet of the victims. And Africa continuous to be portrayed in a very degrading and dehumanizing way. As if when others elsewhere look worse off than selves, it feels better and luckier. Perhaps it is playing on human nature: when Africa is projected as negatively as possible, it makes others elsewhere feel better and overlook the economic and political policies of their own countries, many of which are responsible for the situations they see on television.

For example, most foreign aid to Africa comes in form of curative social welfare programmes such as famine relief, food aid, population control programmes, refugee camps, peace-keeping forces and humanitarian missions. At the same time, hardly available are resources for preventive and sustainable human development programmes such as functional education and training, development of infrastructure, institutional and capacity building, food production and processing, the promotion of creative innovations and entrepreneur ship. There are no funds for development of their own cultural, spiritual and social programmes which would empower people and release their creative energy. Such programmes find few sympathizers.

In the current scenario therefore, development programmes which receive enthusiastic support are those which generate much wealth for the international communities even as they put Africans into more debts. In 1991 for example, developed countries are said to have received about 1361 billion US dollars from developing countries in trade transactions and transferred only about 60 billions US dollars in form of aid and grants! That is hardly just trade, hardly charity. It is claimed that aIl the aid Africa gets is repaid several times over through trade transactions, including using that aid to purchase goods from the country which 'gives' aid. Africa ends up with a deficit.

This state of affairs should not be encouraged by international trade transactions which promote growth for some regions of the world and stagnation, regression and impoverishment for others. It is inequitable, unjust, irresponsible and destroys the local environment. It is trade which contributes to impoverishment of Africa much more than the population numbers per see. Yet the focus for poverty alleviation in Africa is often tagged to the population increase and environmental degradation.

The end of the Cold War has made Africa less useful to the rich industrialized countries. Therefore, Africa is now being blamed for having no credible policies and strategies to reduce the many problems facing Africa including the ecological crisis and internal conflicts. It is also being accused of blocking democratization process and liberalization of the markets, supporting a bloated civil service and accommodating high-level corruption. During the Cold War these issues were there but the same international community turned a blind eye to them.