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Africa’s Developmental Impasse: Some Perspectives and Recommendations

DM Dembele


Africa is among the “poorest” regions of the world. The reality is that
Africa is not poor but rather impoverished. This impoverishment dates
back to the dawn of capitalism when slavery was one of the key elements
of capitalism’s “original accumulation”, as demonstrated par Karl Marx
in The Capital.
Colonial administration replaced slavery as from the 19th Century with
the occupation of Africa by Western powers. This has led to a systematic
looting of its natural resources and the exploitation of its cheap labour
which served to industrialise Western countries.
Thus, slavery and colonisation constituted the main causes of Africa’s
impoverishment. With its accession to independence from the 1960s,
one may have thought that looting Africa would have come to an end
and its development stepped up. It was the contrary that occurred
because in many countries, foreign domination had been reinforced in
connivance with the new African leaders.
The failure of the neo-colonial management of African countries was
illustrated by the external debt crisis which started from the end of the
1970s and led to the World Bank and IMF’s intervention. These
institutions forced upon African countries the notoriously sad
adjustment programmes which contributed to worsening the crisis in
their economies, taking poverty to an unprecedented level.
The international financial crisis that occurred in 2008 illustrated the
failure of market fundamentalism of which adjustment programmes are
the forerunners. This crisis which has shaken the very bases of the
capitalistic system affords African leaders and thinkers the opportunity
to break loose of the neoliberal yoke and explore a development path
that is more in tune with Africa. The author underscores that such a
path should be non-capitalistic because the heavy toll that Africa has
paid since the birth of capitalism until now is a proof that the capitalistic
development model is bound to fail.

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eISSN: 0850-3907