Friday, October 17, 2014

Africa needs socialism, not capitalism

Is capitalism really going to be the answer?

Sub-saharan Africa has one of the highest number of hungry people and has a growing youth population in need of jobs.

“Africa is not poor financially but it needs to get its house in order,” Stephen Karingi, director of regional integration, infrastructure and trade at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told IPS during the commission’s Ninth African Development Forum, “For too long we have allowed the narrative of Africa to be one about raw materials and natural resources coming out of Africa, yet Africa can take advantage of its own comparative advantages, including these natural resources, and become the leader in the value chains that require these raw materials.”

The continent must embark on reforms to capture currently unexplored or poorly-managed resources,”Carlos Lopes, ECA executive secretary, said.

We need to get our policies right and allow for the kind of investments that people [can make] in Switzerland,” macroeconomic policy division head at ECA, Adama Elhiraika, told IPS.

“Given the size of Africa, there is need to promote free movement of capital, which is as important as the free movement of goods and services in boosting trade and investment.”

Research by the ECA shows that the total illicit financial outflows in Africa over the last 10 years, about 50 billion dollars a year, is equivalent to nearly all the official development assistance received by the continent.

This blog has often exposed the exploitation and poverty of workers in South Africa, the most developed country on the continent. Is that really the template other African workers wish to follow and not to be more ambitious and aspire towards a genuine social society?

The possibilities exist for the transformation of Africa. Northern Ethiopia suffered significant soil erosion and degradation — with farmers driven to cultivate the steepest slopes, suspending themselves by ropes — before attempts were made to counter ecological destruction. Since then approximately 250,000 hectares of degraded land in Ethiopia’s highland areas of Amhara, Oromia and Tigray — in which over 50 percent of Ethiopia’s 94 million people live — has been restored to productivity. This has been achieved through promoting sustainable land management practices such as the use of terracing, crop rotation systems, and improvement of pastureland and permanent green cover, benefiting more than 100,000 households.  Its holistic approach increases water availability for agriculture and agricultural productivity. The introduction of improved cooking stoves combined with newly established wood lots at farmers’ homesteads reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pressure on natural forests. Ethiopia’s abundance of waterways offer huge hydro-electric generation potential. By focusing on cities, land use and renewable and low-carbon energy sources, while increasing resource efficiency, infrastructure and stimulating innovation, it is claimed a wider economy and better environment are achievable for countries at all levels of development.

Getahun Moges, director general of the Ethiopian Energy Authority, tells IPS. “I believe every country has potential to build a green economy, the issue is whether there’s enough political appetite for this against short-term interests.”

Socialist Banner would describe this official as being overly optimistic. It is not merely short-term political governance that holds back Africa but the longer-term and deeper-rooted nefarious effects of world capitalism and global corporations.

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