The Herald, December 2 1994
THE failure of development programmes in Africa has been mainly due to the wrong assumption that development would be an automatic result of the injection of capital and Western know-how into a developing country.
Last year’s Africa Hunger Prize co-winner, Mr Godfrey Nzamujo of Nigeria, said in an interview yesterday that the measure of economic performance and the goals set were based on the criteria used in the industrialised countries.
“In these programmes, the designers failed to recognise and take into account some socio-economic realities in the developing countries.
“The present day pre-occupation of a majority of Africans do not match with the social behaviour necessary to support the economic structures introduced. In fact, some of these attitudes or behaviour, far from encouraging successful executions of these programmes, really constitute obstacles.”
Mr Nzamujo is in Harare to attend the sub-Saharan Africa regional conference for parliamentarians and civil society.
He also had a brief chat yesterday morning with President Mugabe, also an African Hunger Prize laureate.
Mr Nzamujo, a Nigerian based in Benin, also teaches at the University of California, said the most serious mistake was that technology transfer had been emphasised over research into local resources.
The technology transfer strategy introduced schemes that created on-going dependency on imports, he said.
The promotion of economic activities in the developing nations was more or less restricted to “the so-called” formal sectors and a great number of people, particularly women and the rural poor, were virtually left out of the economic equation.
“They were considered only as social targets. There was therefore no serious effort made toward mobilising more than 80 percent of (the) African population for sustainable economic development.
“African people had no right to decry what was happening in Africa and stop there.
“The only way to get out of our problems is to embark on a bold project of a viable civil society — a society where people could be recognised as human beings, a society that can effectively participate in world affairs on her own terms. But this evolution must be rooted in the realities of Africa.” — The Herald.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
- Failure of some developmental programmes in Africa is not because they are bad, but because policy makers and implementers adopt Western templates wholesale, without testing them on local environments.
The programmes are also not effective due to the exclusion of women and the rural poor from the economic equation.
- Zimbabwe wants to restore its continental breadbasket status in food security. That there is an African Hunger Prize of which founding father and former president Robert Mugabe was a laureate, is an incentive.