I am all for charity. As a missionary, you are building an infrastructure: giving kids shots so they don’t die of whooping cough or end up blind from measles, encouraging family planning using both traditional and modern methods so that children get needed breast milk for two years so they don’t die of malnutrition.
Yet just going in and giving medicine didn’t work.
Our funding included coordination with the schools, teaching hygiene, having villagers build wells for safe water, and importing high yield hybrid chickens to increase egg production. Once you have the basic needs solved, you have a surplus, and this can be sold for cash. The women peddlers who run much of Africa’s small businesses went from peddlers to shops, and voila, self sufficiency. The good news is that you find yourself replaced by the son of a shopkeeper who managed to send his son to a South African medical school.
The bad news is that you are now out of work.
Charity is a good thing. But money unwisely spent quickly becomes the problem, not the solution. When money is thrown at a problem, corrupt politicians will take their cut, and often it destroys both the will and the ability to get out of poverty. Why work when food is provided? And since imported food is so much cheaper than working for it, working actually becomes counterproductive.Africa as victim. It’s the big thing for do gooders this year. Twenty years ago, it was India and Asia. Fifty years ago, it was the children starving in post war Europe.
Yet the dirty little secret is that what got Europe out of poverty and is now getting Asia out of poverty isn’t missionaries, God love them, but business. Globalization. A dirty word among those who love poor people everywhere, partly because it destroys those cute cultures we all like to watch on National Geographic, and partly because it increases the gap between the wealthy and poor, but not by making more poor people but by making a lot of very rich people.
So unless you read the African papers, or a couple blogs that picked up the news, you probably aren’t aware of the 17th World Economic Forum that met in Cape Town, spreading the idea that Africa is now open for business.
In the past, development meant giving money to the governments, which were often corrupt, while the true entrepeneurs fled. Like here in the Philippines, often there are no opportunities locally so the talented flee elsewhere, including a million Africans (and two million Pinoys) who immigrated to the US to support their families in peace and prosperity. Open local opportunities to these people, and they will stay home and build the local economies.
AsGhanean economist George Ayittey notes:
Development of Africa has overfocused on the â€œmodern sectorâ€ – which is generally corrupt and broken – and underfocused on the informal and traditional sectors, which is where most Africans actually work. These sectors, especially the agricultural sector, are based around communal ownership and decision-making. But theyâ€™re not socialist – theyâ€™re deeply market-based and, in West Africa, based around entrepreneurial women. it wasnâ€™t until post-colonialism that governments declared markets to be â€œimperialisticâ€ – markets arenâ€™t alien to Africa, which is based around â€œa different form of capitalismâ€.
Showing the sorts of enterprise he believes Africa needs to encourage, Ayittey shows us a video of Ghanaian fishermen. They receive no government subsidy, they produce wealth based on what theyâ€™re able to catch, and they invest in their boats and other infrastructure, creating jobs for hundreds of others. This sort of entrepreneurship needs to be a focus for African growth if we are to â€œtake back the Continent one village at a time.â€
Look out world, here comes Africa. The G8 report encouraging investment is HERE…
And if the anti globalists and do gooders in the US and Europe don’t like it, don’t worry. They’ll quickly find something else to hyperventillate about.
You see,it is no longer a bilateral world: welcome to globalization.
China has been doing this sort of business for a couple centuries here in Asia and is happy to work with Africans, and Indian entrepeneurs have been working in Africa for over a century.