Having recently moved from South Africa to Belgium, I can’t but wonder whether six decades of European integration are relevant for Africa. Or are we comparing apples and mangoes?
The 2010 FIFA World Cup drew to a close on July 11, 2010, with a Spanish victory and a thunderous ceremony. South Africa took a bow as the world applauded its wonderful organization of the high profile tournament.
A record number of people across the globe viewed the tournament, and the crime rate was the lowest of any World Cup. The direct economic impact of the event is estimated at around 0.5% of GDP in 2011, and the tournament did much to burnish South Africa’s image across the world as an attractive tourist destination.
Sadly, the real drama started after the curtains came down on the World Cup.
In particular, a coalition of unions, representing over one million-public servants -- including teachers, doctors, nurses, police, and court and government officials -- has launched an indefinite strike after the unions’ demand for an 8.6% salary increase (plus 1,000 rand monthly housing allowance) was rejected by the Government.
Patrick Bond’s lengthy comment on my response to his blog post merits a separate blog post.
Thanks for your response. It appears as if there are at least four areas where we end up agreeing, except that I reach these conclusions using economic reasoning, which also serves to highlight some differences.
1. I’m glad you agree that there is a difference between accounting and economic welfare. But you still don’t seem to accept the result of my simple example of two countries (one following a wasteful trajectory and the other the optimal one) that genuine savings is the same in both cases.
In a recent interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, I reacted to statements by Patrick Bond on Africa’s export of raw materials and on structural adjustment policies. I said that the problem with natural resources was not that Africa exports them, but that many African governments have not used the revenues from these resources productively. On structural adjustment, I said that policies followed by the better-performing African countries over the last 15 years were quite similar to
Last month’s post on the exchange between Helen Epstein and Ken Ohashi on Ethiopia generated a large number of comments (and rejoinders), a response from Helen herself, and references in the Addis press.
One set of comments were about the facts. Many commentators questioned whether human development indicators were actually improving in Ethiopia, while others questioned whether the political situation was as repressive as described by Helen in her original piece in the New York Review of Books. Some asked whether the facts coming out of Ethiopia (on agricultural productivity for example) were reliable. Since these are questions of fact, they can and should be verified.
Another group of comments questioned my interpretation of the facts,
The exchange between Helen Epstein and my colleague Ken Ohashi about the role of aid donors in “subsidizing” what Epstein calls a politically repressive regime highlights the difficulty in linking politics at the top with poverty alleviation on the ground.
Even politically open regimes, such as India, have difficulty delivering basic services to poor people—the absence rate for teachers in Indian public primary schools is 25 percent; the rate for doctors in public primary clinics is 40 percent. Conversely, as Epstein points out in her reply to Ken’s letter, “poverty and disease have fallen sharply in some repressive societies, from Cuba to China…”
Tolstoy notwithstanding, the 20 African success stories described in the booklet “Yes, Africa Can” show that success comes in many different forms. Broadly speaking, the cases fall into three categories:
- Success from removing an existing, major distortion. The best example is Ghana’s cocoa sector, which was destroyed by the hyperinflation and overvalued exchange rate in the early 1980s. When the exchange rate regime was liberalized and the economy stabilized, cocoa exports boomed (and continue to grow). Similar examples include Rwanda’s coffee sector and Kenya’s fertilizer use. Africa’s mobile phone revolution, too, is an example of the government’s stepping out of the way—in this case by deregulating the telecommunications sector—and letting the private sector jump in.
- Urban Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Macroeconomics and Economic Growth
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Financial Sector
- Culture and Development
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- success stories africa
- africa success
Photo: Arne Hoel
In Uganda, teachers in public primary schools are absent 27 percent of the time. In Chad, less than one percent of the non-wage recurrent expenditures reaches primary health clinics. In West Africa, about half the fertilizer is diluted before it reaches the farmer.