WHY AFRICA CANNOT DEVELOP: Benny Dembitzer

WHY AFRICA CANNOT DEVELOPWe have a new government and a new Secretary of State for International Development. Sadly, the new government wants to improve trade links with the rest of the world, and it wishes to include parts of the world that will never benefit from more trade: if anything, they will be more impoverished.  Opening borders and being unable to protect ‘infant’ industries is killing most small scale industrial development across the African continent. Whilst most of the rich world now accepts that there must be some restructuring of the industrialisation process that heralded globalisation in the early 1980s, most policy makers have not yet accepted that sub-Saharan Africa has only one choice. It needs to develop its agriculture. At present, there is no other choice for a continent rich in land (mostly), with low skill levels, unable to protect its industries, and considerable lack of food.  But the Washington Consensus (the World Bank, IMF and US Treasury) forced African governments to kill off any support for farmers back in the 1980s (the Structural Adjustment Programmes). Globalisation has added to the destruction of nascent industries. Textiles, which have always been the first step towards industrialisation anywhere in the world, have been killed off by cheap imports from China. The result is increasing poverty.  Yes, there are new shopping malls in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Lagos. But there are probably at least one million people on the verge of starvation in the northern states of Nigeria because of the Boko Haram insurgency.  There are around one million starving in the Central African Republic because there has been no farming for the last 2 years. There are some 6 million people who do not have enough to eat in Ethiopia. There are at least one a half million refugees from the conflict in South Sudan. Zimbabwe is affected by famine. Zambia has blocked the export of wheat to other countries in the region.The aid we give is not sufficient. Because of the global policy environment of increased security and climate mitigation, more ‘development’ is being diverted into aiding the rich world to protect itself from all sorts of directions. Development is simply not occurring. GRASSROOTS AFRICA is launching a petition to the new Secretary of State for International Development, Ms Priti Patel, who is on record as favouring more international trade than aid, that what is needed is a radically new approach. This approach requires that food sovereignty – enabling each nation to be at least self-sufficient in food – be at the centre of British Government policy. We urge everyone to sign the petition we have launched on 27th September 2016.  Benny Dembitzer 27/9/2016