| African agriculture: The critical choices |
|2. The role of the export sector|
Hamid AÃ¯t Amara
Today, all African countries are facing the limitations of a development strategy based on expanding the export sector. The 1970s were marked by an almost universal slowing down of growth in GNP and economic expansion came to a halt, or became negative in many countries. This happened in Chad and Uganda whose problems are well known; but it has also affected mineral-rich countries such as Zaire. Liberia and Zambia and even the Ivory Coast which, in the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, had registered high growth rates.
In these countries, GNP has regressed in absolute terms as a result of a decline in both agricultural and industrial production. On average, per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa fell by 0.4% per annum during the 1970s, and the end or slowing down of economic growth has led to growing unemployment, increased pressure on land, and unproductive tertiary sectors.
The 'modem' economic system's capacity to absorb a labour force that is growing rapidly as a result of population growth and urbanization is reaching breaking point. This trend is appearing at a very low level of industrialization, such that the proportion of the economically active population employed in industry is still very low, compared to what can be observed in other Third World regions.