Africa is not destined for underdevelopment
What they tell you
Africa is destined for underdevelopment. It has a poor climate, which leads to serious tropical disease problems. It has lousy geography, with many of its countries landlocked and surrounded by countries whose small markets offer limited export opportunities and whose violent conflicts spill into neighbouring countries.
It has too many natural resources, which make its people lazy, corrupt and conflict-prone. African nations are ethnically divided, which renders them difficult to manage and more likely to experience violent conflicts. They have poor-quality institutions that do not protect investors well. Their culture is bad – people do not work hard, they do not save and they cannot cooperate with each other.
All these structural handicaps explain why, unlike other regions of the world, the continent has failed to grow even after it has implemented significant market liberalization since the 1980s. There is no other way forward for Africa than being propped up by foreign aid.
What they don't tell you
Africa has not always been stagnant. In the 1960s and 70s, when all the supposed structural impediments to growth were present and often more binding, it actually posted a decent growth performance.
Moreover, all the structural handicaps that are supposed to hold back Africa have been present in most of today's rich countries – poor climate (arctic and tropical), landlockedness, abundant natural resources, ethnic divisions, poor institutions and bad culture. These structural conditions seem to act as impediments to development in Africa only because its countries do not yet have the necessary technologies, institutions and organizational skills to deal with their adverse consequences.
The real cause of African stagnation in the last three decades is free-market policies that the continent has been compelled to implement during the period. Unlike history or geography, politics can be changed. Africa is not destined for underdevelopment.
uit Ha-Joon Chang, 23 Things they don't tell you about capitalism. Het bovenstaande is een samenvatting van ding 11.