Sunday, June 26, 2005

Recipes for Economic Development

While the rest of the world is growing in leaps and bounds the continent of Africa is bogged down by debt, poverty and economic slow down. Outside the recommended solutions of good governance, conflict resolution and democracy,what economic policies makes sense. Your opinions is elicited. Please bear in mind the non-indutrilaized economy, low export profile, high illiteracy rate, low economic activities between African economies, lack of transportation to connect the continent and the vaibility of any suggestions made in this respect.

8 comments:

t said...

It's great to see you back, Busayo! Tough question. What's YOUR VISION? What do you want the new Nigeria / Africa to look like...because that would drive the policy.

Anonymous said...

Wow - THE big question! I think Africa as a continent needs to focus more on its greatest strengths and capabilities, and to figure out a way of putting those forward in a way that reckons with the global realities of these times. I think we've tried playing either 'catch-up' or 'the blame game' or 'come over here and help us' for a long time and it hasn't exactly done too much for us. Even the whole postitive concept of black power and identity and trying to come up with our own indigenous concepts and policies, became eventually an avenue to either compare constantly (and negatively) or to point fingers or make excuses. My VISION, to borrow from t's comment, is of an Africa which is secure in its own skin (ok, trying hard not to wax too poetic here)..an Africa which recognises and harnesses its greatest resources, which I consider to be its people (with their extraordinarily diverse culture, initiative and knowledge), and its agriculture (I think is such a shame that the fruit of our own labour on our own land, which is so powerful and symbolic to the African, has been so sidelined in our economic policies). Of course, our other resources are very important as well and should also be utilised, but I really think there should be much more emphasis on these two much-neglected areas.

t said...

I like you, Anonymous!
Since we're defining a vision here, may I prod even further? Let's zoom in for a while on "people," as in how to develop Africa's people, or a small subset of Africa's people. What objectives can one set here? What do you think? (We can also discuss the other fantastic points you raised...)

Anonymous said...

One thing we've got in our favour is the value Africans place on education...even if it's sometimes misdirected and ends up pushing people into areas where they just can't be productive. That respect for education (though dying fast in some areas - eg among young men from my part of Naija) is definitely an overall good trend in my view, though...so we should spend more on education. But not just spend more - be more innovative. A more focused type of investment in that sector...more flexible and less 'cut and paste' (speaking in the Nigerian context of 6-3-3-4 for example. Maybe it should be 6-3-3-??). Apart from the fact that most people just can't afford to pay the fees nowadays, I think there should be more options for young seondary-school leavers, in terms of education and training...more options means more opportunities and greater diversification in the long run.

t said...

More on Education
0. For folks who don't know: The Nigerian system of education is 6-3-3-4 for Primary 1 to 6, Junior Secondary School(JS1,JS2,JS3), Senior Secondary(SS1,SS2,SS3), and University levels of education.
1. Why is the respect for education dying? How to bring it back? By the way, I've heard ppl say that respect for education is waning in the US too. Is this a global trend or what? Or are some people getting more interested in education (my guess is yes, but where are these places/people?)
2. Why do you suggest 6-3-3-?? It seems that it makes sense to have a policy goal of driving as many people as possible from primary school to a university education (because we don't have that many people with that education to start with), and I have a guess that 6-3-3-4 is designed to do that...Yes, it's a problem when people are bound by this e.g. if they assume that jobs will come to them if just they follow the system; especially if they are wrong about this and lie unproductive for long periods of time; but I still think the mass education part is very important. (I'll skip for now the myriad issues with the environment for university education) The universtiy part needs to be fantastic. Like America: with a diversity of areas of serious study and all that.
3. I don't know how to increase options for secondary-school leavers...in a better economy, there are more jobs for everybody, that's one way...also do you think the vocational studies in secondary school are useful in practice, they're supposed to accomplish just this. One could think up fantastic vocational studies programs, like in bioinformatics (you don't need to be in your twenties to hack a genome), some biotechnology labwork, in programming and robotics(again, you throw out the advanced math/analysis stuff and give it to secondary school students) - Now, I'm excited, because we can figure out ways to do this. Let's talk more about this - like who's the market for biotech technicians, robotics technicians, etc.
4. (I noticed that Nigerian people work for their school money these days, I didn't know many like that before last year - I met a person selling phone cards, a great hairdresser, an ac repairer, all college students...) Yes, the cost of univeristy is rising and out of reach for many people. No, I don't have ideas. Anyone have thoughts on this?
Love, t

Ogo said...

I think your point on broadening vocational studies in secondary school is fantastic...yeah, that's really big...that has loads of potential...and it is something 'doable'. That's really a critical time that is currently under-utilised. My idea of 6-3-3-?? is that as you said, higher education needs to be a lot more varied and there should be way more options both as regards course choice and institution choice. In Nigeria, for example, we need to get away from the whole 'If I'm intelligent enough (can afford it), I'll go to Unilag and study medicine (even if I'm not particularly interested in it), if not I'll go to Benue Poly and study Sports Education'...the whole thing is a bit silly especially when there is no guarantee that the Unilag-trained doctor will find work. I just think: more options, less hegemony, though I'm not quite sure how to bring this about! You made a good point about entrepreneurs in universities working their way through school. It is very common as you said; one of the best students in my school was also a fabric-trader in Onitsha market, and that was how he managed to pay his fees. Another student set up an ice cream joint on campus etc. I think it can be very positive and should be encouraged... As to how to make university education more affordable, I honestly don't know how it can be done with the general economic climate at the moment...maybe education needs to get more funding in the budget...but that's not a real solution. I have to think a bit more about the respect for education issue, but I can speak about my area of Nigeria - it all comes down to the Benjamins (or Azikiwes). People just don't see the point in spending years and years in school only to live from hand to mouth at the end of the day...and I guess that's understandable - particularly when the only really wealthy people you see around (in my neck of the woods) are 'into business' (or politics, same difference).

t said...

Open questions, need your input:
1. More affordable universities?
2. Inserting cutting-edge vocational programs: market for biotech, etc
3. Is it a good strategy for an individual to neglect education to do small business? If it is, how so? If not, why do so many people think it's better for them?
4. What education-related investments should (y)our country make now? later?
5. What is the state of Nigerian Agriculture? How is it organized? What incentives do agriculturists currently have? Does it pay, or are they hoping to get out? Does someone know a good (and short) article that describes the state of Nigerian Agriculture?
Let's keep talking. Peace!

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