Tuesday, March 09, 2021
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ideas have consequences

You are here:Home>>Emeka Chiakwelu>>Displaying items by tag: Free Market
Displaying items by tag: Free Market

 

The ongoing French military intervention in Mali has not only saved the defenseless West African nation from almost certain complete occupation by marauding foreign terrorists and jihadists, it has also rekindled a debate on the risks and costs of Africa’s dependence on international charity for survival.

 

With many developed countries facing both biting economic difficulties and growing donor fatigue of their electorates, and with African countries by and large still mired in destabilizing vulnerabilities, it is not premature to begin to ponder the consequences of another Mali-type crisis elsewhere in the region.

 

Would France return or would someone else come to the rescue? Moreover, should any outside nation step in to prop up African states that many believe have no one to blame but themselves for their poverty, weakness and instability?

 

Many Africans agree with former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan who says in his recently published memoir, “Interventions: A Life in War and Peace,” written with Nader Mousavizadeh, that internal African politics and leadership, not colonialism or other outside factors, are largely responsible for the continent’s malaise. He enjoins both Africans and non-Africans to “grow up” and focus on finding solutions that work — not on who provides them.

 

At the same time, however, many Africans have had good reasons for coming to rely on foreigners for help.

 

In recent years the “responsibility to protect” doctrine, which calls on outside forces to intervene when a nation’s civilians are threatened with slaughter, has gained currency, perhaps luring some African countries into a false expectation that should they become victims of nefarious forces, other members of the international community would swiftly respond with assistance. Meanwhile, globalization has made the world smaller, giving some Africans a false sense of security, a feeling that their global “neighbors” could always come to the rescue.

 

In Mali’s case, a poor democratic country that devoted its meager resources to improving the quality of life of its people instead of building a large military establishment was the victim of a powerful terrorist invasion that brought Islamist fighters to within striking distance of the capital, Bamako, before French troops stopped the invaders. Yet Mali had been left to suffer alone for almost a year, an eye-opening experience at odds with the hype of a new and fairer international order of oneness promoted by advocates of globalization.

 

In the end, Mali was lucky. The political stars aligned, and a new French president had his reasons for wanting to intervene. But not every African nation will be so fortunate next time.

 

It is the fickle nature of the Mali saga that provides a lesson for the rest of the continent: Only self-reliance and preparation for the grim realities of an international order that is still riven by familiar divisions, inequalities and contradictions will save Africans. Even counting on the continent’s traditional multinational partners, including the African Union and the United Nations, can lead to deadly consequences in the event of a major crisis, as the former lacks the means and the latter must, before it acts, secure the backing of the Security Council permanent members, who may be guided by their own national interests and priorities.

 

Ultimately, African countries bear primary responsibility both for the continent’s problems and for its eventual and, yes, inevitable renaissance. Other nations, in particular the major powers, can assist by refraining from sending mixed messages to the continent and instead assisting in cementing the emerging but still fragile momentum for reformist change that is gradually taking hold.

 

To that end, the international community should consider facilitating adequate representation for Africa in the U.N. Security Council and helping the continent fight corruption, arguably the most corrosive factor that contributes to the region’s poverty, instability and dependence on charity.

 

As African crises continue to dominate the work of the Security Council, the inclusion of an African permanent member would enable the continent to assume the driver’s seat in the quest for homegrown and internationally backed initiatives to prevent or resolve African conflicts. Since no single African country is as powerful or rich as the Council’s current permanent members, collective representation could be considered for Africa, perhaps through the granting of permanent membership to the African Union Commission. Such a bold and innovative step would help end Africa’s knee-jerk pattern of blaming outsiders for its problems and force it to step up and work with others to find sustainable solutions.

 

To help increase Africa’s financial resources, the international community should assist African reformers by fighting transnational corruption and helping to return stolen funds to the African countries of origin. Since the lion’s share of the hundreds of billions of dollars illegally diverted from African treasuries by African elites is transferred abroad, the international community has a vital role to play. Africa needs a leak-proof plan that prevents the transfer of stolen funds from the continent into other nations abroad.

 

No doubt there is growing recognition throughout Africa that predictable and lasting security can best be provided through internal good governance, good neighborly relations and national means.

 

In the meantime, as Africans continue to face growing terrorist threats, the international community should send an unmistakable signal that the French intervention in Mali was not an exception but a precedent — and a warning to other groups of terrorists contemplating similar adventures in Mali or elsewhere on the continent.

 

Sammy Kum Buo, a Cameroon national, was director for West, Central and North Africa in the U.N. Department of Political Affairs in New York from 2007 to 2012.


 

 

 

Africa is confronted with lack of internal security which becomes a deterrent force in the economic advancement of the continent. Capital flight and low foreign investment are the precipitates and ramification of the insecurity.

Beyond the fundamental security motivation of the exercise: "For the U.S., however, AFRICOM will be more than a military exercise. Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says it will feature a unique interagency mix (NPR), combining intelligence, diplomatic, health and aid experts. That suggests to many a more robust effort to fight AIDS and other diseases in Africa, to encourage democratic and market economic reforms, as well as to prevent states from collapsing and providing fertile ground for terrorists. Finally, Africa stands to play an increasingly important role as a supplier of oil to America (National Interest Online) over the next few decades, with some projecting that West Africa's exports to the United States will outstrip the Middle East's by 2015. "

Africa inability to advance economically like the rest of other continents is due to several fundamental reasons; among them is paucity of security infrastructures and apparatus. Africom can play a vital role in contributing to the stabilization of maritime life in Africa. The ships and cargoes transporting commodities and passengers must be able to conduct their businesses in a worry free environment.

The sum total of the African countries and African Union contingency plans for securing the territorial integrity of the continent is minimal and is not meeting up the requisite infrastructure needed to safe guard the continent. In the 21st century world there cannot be advancement in the economic development without adequate security that allow and guarantee passage of goods and services. Africa is beset with instability and ubiquitous intra and inters mêlée that makes free market, trade and capitalism unattractive.

At the horn of Africa, the Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean are not making it easy for passage of ships and cargoes including passengers who have services and expertise to render to Africa. The Africa Union does not have any strategy to safeguard waters of Africa, nor does any African country have the resources and technical know-how to undertake such a complex and gigantic project. The waters of West African coast including Gulf of Guinea, must be secured from armed militia and terrorists who are bent on obstructing oil production in the upstream oil drilling and exploration.

Africom can be a force for good because it can supply the security infrastructures, manpower and technology needed to secure Africa from the danger of pirates and criminals that are making it difficult for normal conduct of maritime business. The resource and money that African countries have devoted and allocated for securing maritime peace can be used for other project in the continent. The point is that Africa will not relinquish her responsibility to Africom but work in concert with Africom in keeping Africa safe from criminal intruder, warmongers and terrorists.

When Africa does experience uncivil eruptions and disturbances that produce exothermic havoc including pogroms, massacre and holocaust in Rwanda, and the on going Sudan problem, Africa lacks the logistic capability to transport manpower to the danger point. Africom can be of great aide in such situation and can be become a combatant force to arrest ugly situations and developments that have the potential to escalate to a monstrous dimension that can demolish massive life and property like in Rwanda massacre.

When Africa achieved a quantifiable peace the flow of investment and capital becomes more attractive to both domestic and foreign investors which can halt capital flight. Africom can be a constructive partner in this endeavor without jeopardizing African territorial integrity.

The psychology of trust

It is said, "Once bitten, twice shy." Africans cannot be blame for being skeptical about the latest development because of her antecedent history with outsiders. Slavery and colonialism legacy still permeates the continent's reaction and psychology to new ideas and developments including the presence of Africom. But Africa cannot dwell in the past, for the time has come for Africa to seize new opportunity and take reasonable risk in order to further her interest and facilitate stability in her geopolitical landscape. Africa can be able to forge strategic alliance with America and Africom. All things being equal, America has done a lot of good things in Africa. United States is an exceptional nation in that she has no colonial ambition and can be a catalyst partner for economic development in Africa. The emergence of President Obama, an African America is exemplary of the goodwill to Africa which can encourage confidence building for Africans.

Freedom and prosperity

America has to work succinctly to assiduously allay their fears and show to Africans the benefits of Africom. This must be done with goodwill and civility while respecting African territorial integrity.

Peace and tranquility are good for business for all the parties concerned which can be achieved through dialogue and understanding. To this end, American diplomats in Africa have to embark on thorough enlightenment campaign. Africa needs stability and quantifiable peace for economic progress and Africom can contribute to the endeavor.

Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center (Afripol) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and probity in Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For years proponents of globalization and free market economy labeled those who desire to include social justice, wealth distribution, fairness, and equity within economic framework as either socialist or communist. Most neo-liberal economic thinkers considered themselves the foremost custodians of capitalism and as the visionary thinkers of the modern age. The modus operandus in the economy, they claimed must be market based and must be the waves of the future; if it’s not working for you then something must be wrong with you.


We know from history that markets have always existed since the beginning of time. The fundamental difference with modern economic practice is the role the market plays in the community. Today the market is the central part of the community versus the historic position of the market as an institution that serves the community. Therefore, any glitch or hiccup in the economy will have a large impact on the community which will result in the lost of assets and wealth of thousands of people.


The recent economic failures on Wall Street sent shock waves through the global economy, eight years after we first saw the consequences of deregulation and the mismanagement by corporations like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco. These events should not be viewed as independent isolated cases, more so they are a symbol of a deep systemic illness that is caused by deregulation which is the main tenant of globalization,


Neo-liberal economists including Friedman and Hayek argued that regulations are stifling the economy and what was needed was a free market economy that allowed the market to freely exist without the government monitoring activities. Instead of having a government or independent agency regulating agency; neo-liberal argued that the market will self regulate, thus relegating justice and fairness in the market to the background. They made these claims with no accountability for greed and responsibility on the part of the business executives. The social contract was simple, how corporations handled their business was not important, what is important is the sacrifice the general public have to make to accommodate the welfare of the corporation.


The current economic framework is based on the society as a whole making every possible sacrifice to make sure that big business can maximize as much profit as possible, while ignoring labor, environment, wealth distribution, and taxes.


The recent failures in US are the end result of an economic policy that some will argue never benefited society as a whole. Modern global economies have experience growth without social responsibility to the native communities that were exploited. Companies that are given tax breaks by host countries in Africa, Asia and other places thrive with cheap labor, lower tariffs and  neglected labor laws in their host nations. Profits they  accumulated  go directly into the hands of the shareholders and executives  at the expense of the poor masses.


Now same people who are proponents of less government -  against  government intervention and social welfare; now welcome government intervention when they are in trouble. These company executives are asking for bailouts and  handouts. Will this act of corporate bail out make the CEO who just escaped with all his loot more compassionate about the need for healthcare and making ends meet among the middle class and poor? For what is good for the corporation is also good for the individual citizen. What is clear is that the interest of the rich is protected while poor class and middle class are neglected due to their inability to exert control over the politicians. Globalization and capitalism in our modern day must put account of the less powerful and make sure that the collective interest of the citizens of the global villages supersedes the welfare of big powerful corporations.


Gideon NyanMr. Nyan writes for Afripol on financial and economic matters.

Published in Gideon Nyan