Upcoming discussion paper: The White Elephant Aid stay tuned


Enhancing Rural Development through Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Centres

Kenyan Education Minister Prof. Sam Ongeri at the launch of the National ICT Centre

Kenyan Education Minister Prof. Sam Ongeri at the launch of the National ICT Centre

*Abstract- This is an abstract of the full technical paper. You can request for the whole paper.

Feasibility of District ICT Centres
Paper submitted to the 2013 Engineering Institution of Zambia National Symposium

The need for rural development is essential to have a balanced development status of any country and the role that ICT play cannot be taken merely. This paper basically highlights how the power of knowledge and technology can lead to the development of communities. ICT’s for rural development provides the basis to equip communities will skills and linkages with the surrounding world that are an essential tool in development. Setting up of ICT centres in rural communities or district councils is a venture that can promote rural development through knowledge and this paper sets to address feasibilities of how rural ICT centres can be set up to enhance community participation in development, governance and human development activities. It also sets to distinguish the role the government has to play to ensure that there is a successful setting up and running of ICT centres in rural communities. This and many tools are essential for enhancing rural livelihood through information sharing and dissemination and community integration, a necessity for development. The paper address modalities of setting up these centres, challenges that can be faced in the role, the stakeholders of the process and the potential the process has to enhance development. Funding a country wide activity of this magnitude calls for partnerships of the Government, the Civil Society, the private sector and the people of the communities. Participation by all the four stakeholders will ensure ownership and sustainability of these centres. A pilot centre can be set up in a recommended ward and it can be replicated in surrounding wards to ensure a high success rate. For dissemination of information an integrated ICT centre, comprising a low-cost and simple internet connectivity (with edge modem connected to the USB port of the PC); community radio listening and television watching; multimedia display; a library of printed materials, audio cassettes and CDs and a digital photo studio, is suggested.

Key words: Information Communication Technology, Rural Development, Poverty, Information Technology, District Councils, Community Engagement.

BirthRight for a Bowl of Stew: Selling Africa Pt1

Birthright for Soup

Birthright for Soup

Africa is not poor by accident, it is poor by choice. It is the world’s richest continent in resources, having one of the world’s poorest people living on it. How is that possible? Well there are a number of factors that have led to Africa plunging itself in such low depths of poverty and lack. How can you lack in the midst of abundance? This is the question that rings in my mind every time I am reading African statistics. There are basically two factors that have led to such low ratings among these third world countries and these factors are external and internal factor. To which factors carries the most strength or dominance over the other is subjective to development trends, ignorance levels, economic and social status and others. In reference to biblical times, there existed two predominant systems of life, the Jacob system and the Esau system.
The world today is based on the two systems that dictate how countries run their affairs. The story of Jacob and Esau can be found in the following passage:

“…Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” Look, I am about to die, Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright”. Genesis 25:29-34

Background: Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, a cultivator staying among the tents. Now the characteristic of hunting is the principle of diminishing returns. There can be a lot of resources provided for the hunter but the more he hunts, the more the resources deplete, a hand-to-mouth system. This exercise requires extreme effort and skill but the output is always low. A lot of energy is wasted on a system that is not sustainable. It feeds you for today but tomorrow is not guaranteed. By day end, it famishes the hunter leaving him desperate. On the other hand, Jacob’s lifestyle or system included cultivating, raring animals, gardening, etc. a system that is sustainable as multiplies existing few resources rather than diminish them. This system uses wisdom, knowledge, smart working rather than the skilled hard work with less output. It’s the reason Britain managed to colonise the world. Hunting diminishes resources, cultivating multiplies resources.
When you look at this story, the two systems basically describe two types of nations, the Jacob- Nations and the Esau kind of nations. So you find countries that run their affairs after the system of Jacob and those that run affairs after the system of Esau. These systems are not equal systems as one system is superior to the other, the weaker system serves under the stronger one. It is the world we are living in. No country of different system can yield the same results, one country has to be superior over the other. Jacob-System countries are countries without no significant raw materials and abundant resources, but they have found a way to nature and grow and multiply that which they obtain from an Esau system, a system marvelled in abundance.

Selling the Birthright
What is the difference between a birthright and a bowl of soup? A birth right is unseen, intangible, of high value while a stew is seen, something of temporal value. A birthright is a future while a bowl of stew is the present. In biblical terms, the birth right was a Jewish blessing that a father gave to his first born son that entitled him to a double of what the father had. Of which Esau was the first son. Why would a country sell its birthright to relieve it of its temporal thirst? Africa is a hungry continent and when someone is hungry, even trash can be appetising. If Esau was wise, he would have simply stepped into his mother’s kitchen and am sure he would have found food there at no cost at all. “…of what good is the birthright to me if I am dying?” Esau was not going to die. The feeling of death and death itself are too different things. So what may appear important now to relieve us of our temporal needs will cost us our lifetime? If any country is going to sell its birthright, atleast let it be for a lifetime supply of stew unlike Esau who sold it for a meal and few hours later, he was hungry again. The resources that Africa has is its birthright and no one has the right to take it away. But this does not mean no one will come and entice use with a bowl of soup when we are very hungry. Many will come and as appetising as the soup would look, it will cost us a birth right. Never negotiate on an empty stomach.
As a result of trading a birthright, most African countries are exposed to capital flight. Illicit capital flight cancels investment, reduces tax collection, worsens income gaps, hurts competition, undermines trade and drains hard-currency reserves. The flow of illicit money from developing countries is based on shifting the wealth out of the countries where 80 per cent of the world’s population lives into countries where 20% live. Raymond Baker, Senior Fellow at the US Centre for International Policy and Director for GFI, calls illicit capital flight “the most damaging economic condition hurting the poor in developing and transnational economies.” He comes to the conclusion that for the first time in the 200 year run of the free-market system we have built and expanded an entire integrated global financial structure with the basic purpose to shift money from the poor to the rich.

Economic Translation
Africans generally are content with mediocrity, the greatest impediment to development. We still hold grudges with colonial masters and systems that we impose on ourselves. Dependency on begging and receiving hand-outs from rich countries. Africa need a stronger middle class citizen who understand that development of a country is only possible if individual people are developed. Dependency on government to perform miracles has never helped any African country with the high corruption infested in the systems of governance. How can African nations like Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producing country, with world’s 3rd largest copper deposits still be a third world country? How can the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country with one of the richest deposits of diamonds still be a third world country? The examples can go on and on because the abundance of resources in these African states is evident but there is no correlation between the amount of wealth existing in these countries and the livelihoods of people. This is not an accident, it is not a mistake, it is a SYSTEM that these countries have been operating on. A system of a hunter. Endowed with abundance yet doing everything it takes to export wealth and import poverty. When you look at a country like Singapore, so small it’s called a city state but its Per Capita Income is close to all African countries combined. Singapore has no gold, no oil, no diamonds, they don’t even have land, but its per capita income is comparable all of Africa’s. Singapore operates on a Jacob system. How come a nation can create something from nothing and another create nothing from something? Is it coincidence? No, it is a system that it operates under. Let’s look at the wealth distribution gap that has existed from the 18th century. In 1820, the ratio of rich countries to poor countries was: 3 to 1, which skyrocketed in 1950 to 35 rich countries to 1 poor country, and within a period of 23 years, the ratio in 1973 grew to 44 rich countries to 1 poor country. In 1992, it was a record number of 72 rich countries to 1 poor country. This is the true picture of how rich countries are getting richer and the poor poorer. Esau system countries are producers of primary commodities, they hardly add value to their resources. A good example is Zambia and Kenya. Kenya is among the largest producers of coffee beans. In Kenya, there is commercial growing of coffee of which no single bean is roasted from that country but all shipped to Germany. Germany has ended up becoming the largest exporter of coffee yet it doesn’t have one coffee bush growing in that country. Zambia is Africa’s largest copper producing country, and among the highest importers of copper related components in electronics, manufacturing, household use, etc. If a country sells resources in its raw form, it’s operating on the Esau system which only sells that which it hunted and returns diminish. Raw materials are comprised of a lot of by-products that the buyer processes and sell it back to the seller at 100 times the amount sold for. A lazy country is only happy because it can produce something, put never takes that something to an advanced stage and a better level. This wholesale vacuuming of African resources exerts a terrible toll on life expectance, educational standards, mortality rates, and quality of life, finite natural capital, mostly represented by mineral deposits, is of multinational interest. Local populations have right to a fair part of the income from the sale of the mineral deposits. Local populations have all rights to income from renewable natural capital.
Africa has lost an estimated US$845 billion over a 38-39 year period from 1970-2008, averaging US$22 billion per annum. Take, for example, the following mineral rich countries with a high poverty head count: Equatorial Guinea (76.8%), Gabon (32.7%) and Angola (40.5%) and very low human development indicators, yet they have equal or higher per capita GDPs than the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China. The Human Development Indicators in all four mineral rich countries are very low. Clearly, the mineral revenues haven’t been distributed to all and have not improved life for the poorest. In 35 mineral resource and revenue rich countries in Africa, per capita GDP ranges from US$500 to US$ 20,200. Yet the mineral wealth versus the consumption per capita and the poverty head count tell a starkly different story. The poverty head count averages at 48.56% and is as high as 80% in Chad. Yet despite the high poverty head count and large mineral revenues, safety net benefits in terms of cash transfer programs targeted to the poor exist only in ten of these countries. These cash transfers cover less than 10% of the population, if that, and generally fall around US$15 per month equalling about 20% of household consumption. And in each of these cases, it is donor financing, not revenues from the mineral wealth that account for 65% to 100% of the cash benefits! Aid money for the citizens of mineral rich countries?
In low income countries the average donors funding for safety nets is 72.5% of the total and for middle income countries it is over 50%, Victoria Monchuk, Economist, Africa Social Protection, calculates in her report Social Safety Nets Experience in 22 African Countries. On average as percentage of GDP, safety net programs represent only 1.6% of GDPs in Africa (excluding what is spent on general subsidies). The average for middle income countries on safety net spending is not much higher – 2.4% of GDP – including donor financing.
In fact there are no significant cash transfer programs in 23 of these mineral revenue rich countries which have GDPs in the billions of dollars and high GDP per capita but high poverty headcounts. This includes Nigeria ($235.9 billion with GDP per capita of $2700), Angola ($100 billion with GDP per capita of $6200), Benin ($35 billion with GDP per capita of $1700), Cameroon ($25 billion with GDP per capita of $2300), Chad ($9 billion with GDP per capita of $1900), Equatorial Guinea ($19 billion with GDP per capita of $20,200), Gabon ($17 billion with GDP per capita of $17,300), Madagascar ($9 billion with GDP per capita of $1000), and Mauritania ($94 billion with GDP per capita of $1044)- Maniza Naqvi ( WorldBank)

Conclusion: Despite most countries selling their birthright for soup, there is still hope of recovery. This hope will be posted in part 2 of this series.

How Can Africans Fix Africa?

Development lies in Hands of Africans

Development lies in Hands of Africans

Fixing Africa

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, nearly all the development models assumed that all other things were equal and all Africa needed to take off was a massive infusion of foreign aid or capital. This orthodoxy, which became known as “capital fundamentalism, assumed that the country had the “absorptive capacity” to utilize effectively the capital it received from abroad. In other words, it had the right institutions, the right environment, and the capability to utilize foreign aid or investment. For example, that the country was at peace (no civil wars), property rights were respected (government thugs did not arbitrarily seize private property with impunity) and that the rule of law prevailed (the head of state and his ministers did not loot the treasury).
Today, most of these assumptions can be seen as profoundly erroneous and misguided. An “enabling environment” has not prevailed over much of postcolonial Africa. In fact, Africa’s investment climate has deteriorated progressively over the decades. What now prevails is antithetical to development. The infusion of vast amounts of foreign aid into Africa achieved little results. The Washington consensus has now shifted its focus to governance, but its fatal flaw is its presumption that the coconut republic will or is capable of reforming itself. A new approach is needed.

The new approach requires making two fundamental distinctions: Between African elites and African peasants or people. The wretched leadership, drawn from the elite class, has been the major problem, not the people. True, people get the leaders they deserve but only if they choose them. In most of the African countries, the people play little role in choosing their leaders, who impose themselves on their people.

The second distinction is even more important – modern, informal, and traditional Africa.

These three do not operate by the same principles and logic. Africa cannot be developed by ignoring the informal and traditional sectors, where the vast majority of the people live. Nor can these sectors be developed without understanding how they work. Tragically, these were precisely the two sectors little understood and neglected by African leaders, elites and Western development experts.

The second step requires reforming the modern sector – the source of Africa’s problems — or, failing that, chastened to prevent collateral damage to the traditional and informal sectors. Reform requires democratization, market liberalization, decentralization of power, and repairing dysfunctional systems. The politics of exclusion must be replaced by the politics of inclusion. The elites should seek their wealth in the private sector. Government does not produce wealth; only redistributes it. In addition, the control of key state institutions must be wrestled from the ruling elites and reformed so that transparency, accountability and professionalism can be established. This would require attending to the systemic breakdown by fixing malfunctioning institutions. These six institutions are imperative:

 An independent central bank: to assure monetary and economic stability, as well as stanch capital flight out of Africa. If possible, governors of central banks in a region, say West Africa, may be rotated to achieve such independence.

 An independent judiciary — essential for the rule of law. Supreme Court judges may also be rotated within a region.

 A free and independent media to ensure free flow of information.

 An independent Electoral Commission.

 An efficient and professional civil service, which will deliver essential social services to the people on the basis of need and not on the basis of ethnicity or political affiliation.

 A neutral and professional armed and security forces.

African development problems are as complex as they are multifaceted. Their resolution ultimately depends on the capacity of people to understand what is happening around them, both internally and externally. They must possess enhanced ability to be able to take appropriate steps and cope with a variety of problems surrounding them. At the higher levels of leadership, Africa must take a leaf out of the books of other nations. It must equip itself with the intellectual and scientific capacity and the knowledge base to formulate long-term strategies.

It must upgrade considerably its ability to analyse economic and social issues correctly and to implement such policies with the necessary political vision.


NO-Dr. Donald Kaberuka

Not as long as there are issues such as prolonged violent conflict, bad governance, excessive external interference, and lack of an autonomous policy space. Alone, money cannot solve Africa’s development problems. Proof, if any was needed, is the fact that many of Africa’s natural resource-rich countries score very low on human development indicators.

Africa’s development challenges are multifaceted. Colonial history still looms large. Money cannot undo that history. Five decades after independence we are still grappling with building the nation-state. On the one hand, whole nations were split up by artificial boundaries to form separate independent countries, while on the other hand, several nation-states were lumped together within these same artificially delineated borders. To this already complex picture was added the impact of Cold War rivalries among major powers, which extended to the African theatre.
No amount of money can build the damaged trust between a government and its citizens. Decades of defective political and economic governance, and the failure by early post-independence governments to deliver on the promises of independence spun disillusionment and led to unfulfilled expectations paving the way to undemocratic dictatorial rule, the demise of the rule of law, ethnic strife, and economic and social chaos.

[Dr. Donald Kaberuka President of the African Development Bank.Former minister of finance of Rwanda.]

YES- Ashraf Ghani

If it is invested in enhancing African capabilities to integrate the continent into global networks of knowledge and creating prosperity and stability. This will mean confronting and overcoming a triple failure: corruption and abuse of power by African governments, predatory practices by extractive industries, and the waste of resources by an uncoordinated and ineffective aid system. Africa will acquire a strong voice when it is represented by credible leaders and managers. Such people cannot be produced without investment in the appropriate institutions. Currently, about $5 billion per annum is provided in the form of technical assistance to meet donor requirements. Directing a significant portion of this money toward investment in institutions will produce stakeholders focused on creating a positive change.

[Ashraf Ghani: Chairman of the Institute for State Effectiveness, Adviser to the UN for the construction of the Bonn Agreement for Afghanistan, Finance minister of Afghanistan 2002–2004.]

Resources: Abdulkadir M.S, Jayum A A, Zaid A.B, Asnarulkhadi A. S., George Ayittey

©Copyright: All rights reserved. These publications may be freely reproduced with permission from the author and resources used.

China’s Presence in Africa: Friend or Foe?

ChinAfrica Relationship

ChinAfrica Relationship

China is both a tantalising opportunity and a terrifying threat – Moeletsi Mbeki

China has been active in Africa for more than 50 years, and that presence has shifted and evolved in rough congruence with tides running in China itself. It has been implementing economic reform measures opening up to the outside world since 1980s. These reform measures were initiated by patriarch leader, the late Deng Xiaoping in 1980s and carried forward by Jiang Zemin and now they are implemented by President Hu Jintao. The large economic transformation taking place in China requires large amount of natural resources which are not readily available in the country. Africa, a very resource-abundant continent is now of the greatest interest to China hence the basis for economic and diplomatic ties.

China has become the largest new investor, trader, buyer, and aid donor in a raft of African countries, and a major new economic force in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. Chinese trade with Africa is growing at 50 percent a year; already that trade has jumped in value from $10 billion in 2000 to about $25 billion last year. China’s exploits in Africa have been widely publicised in the past few years, and most of them have been focused on their need to secure essential raw materials for China. As of 2008, Africa accounts for 30% of China’s oil imports, with Angola, Sudan and Congo being its three biggest African oil importers, supplying 13%, 7% and 4.4% respectively and in return, China helps build infrastructure for the African nations. For decades, China has been the workshop of the world, supplying cheap products for every continent in the world, and Africa has been no exception. In fact, these cheap Chinese produce affects Africa more than the Western world, partly due to the dominance of service industries in the West and the fragility of manufacturing industries in Africa.
Even though Africa is a poor continent, production cost is high because of poor infrastructure, and this leads to lower competitiveness against Chinese products. For example, Nigerian non-oil exporters are unable to use the US’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) because of regular power failures (10-30% electricity supply in Nigeria), bad roads, and ignorance of opportunities such as AGOA. Indeed, the World Bank estimates that Nigeria loses N66 billion (USD43 million) per year due to intermittent power supply. The transport system is no better. Even though truckers are paid $3,937 a month in Germany, and $160 in Zambia, it still costs more to send a container from Lusaka, Zambia, to Lesotho than from Berlin to Barcelona. China’s total trade in goods in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion just slightly ahead of the USA whose total for 2012 was $3.62 trillion.

Because China does not regard itself as a new colonial power it does not seek to govern subject peoples in Africa or impose a Chinese way of life and value system on indigenous inhabitants of the continent—it tends to cloak its hands-off approach in a mantle of supposed respect for sovereignty. But non-intervention is intervention in another guise. China is opportunistic, and regards opportunism as a virtue. There have been major criticisms of Chinese companies in Africa though, ranging from neo-colonialism, corruption, government transparency to imported labour, underbidding and violation of human rights. If China and others are accused of propping up tyrants, and encouraging corruption, it must be admitted that there are all too many tyrants and plenty of native corruption to go around. The worst that can be said is that corruption is so virulent in China itself that one must feel that the great bulk of deals between Africans and Chinese will be badly bent in some way.

China has displaced European, American, and Japanese capital in several African countries. Indeed, unlike the West, China has opened embassies in forty-seven of sub-Saharan Africa’s forty-eight countries. It has created Confucius Institutes in several national capitals, and partially funds a serious think-tank in South Africa. The Chinese Communist Party sponsors frequent people-to-people visits to and from Africa.
China is a worthy competitor for resources, and for construction projects. Additionally, its direct and indirect donor aid is now significant, overshadowing or competing for influence with the United States and Europe. Africans like this new competition for their partnership. They further welcome China’s lack of conditionality; Chinese aid—a promised $20 billion—comes without immediately obvious strings (the Taiwanese question aside). For that reason, and because the Chinese espouse fundamentally different approaches to governance questions than the West does, the West and Africa should now encourage China to embrace positive principles, mutually agreed upon, for Africa’s growth. China is a possible force for good in Africa; the West should help harness that potential though caution must be strictly taken in this kind of engagement.

China’s African Policy

In 2000 China formally announced its intention to “go global.” Going global involved not only opening its doors to foreign investors, but also looking outward for opportunities to invest its vast foreign currency reserves. Following this policy decision, Chinese investment in Africa boomed. Enhancing solidarity and cooperation with African countries has always been an important component of China’s independent foreign policy of peace. China will unswervingly carry forward the tradition of China-Africa friendship. Proceeding from the fundamental interests of both the Chinese and African peoples, China will establish and develop a new type of strategic partnership with Africa which features political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchange. The general principles and objectives of China’s African policy are as follows:

 Sincerity, friendship and equality. China adheres to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, respects African countries’ independent choice of the road of development and supports African countries’ efforts to grow stronger through unity.

 Mutual benefit, reciprocity and common prosperity. China supports African countries’ endeavour for economic development and nation building, carries out cooperation in various forms in the economic and social development, and promotes common prosperity of China and Africa.

 Mutual support and close coordination. China will strengthen cooperation with Africa in the United Nations and other multilateral systems by supporting each other’s just demand and reasonable propositions and continue to appeal to the international community to give more attention to questions concerning peace and development in Africa.

 Learning from each other and seeking common development. China and Africa will learn from and draw upon each other’s experience in governance and development, strengthen exchanges and cooperation in education, science, culture and health. Supporting African countries’ efforts to enhance capacity building, China will work together with Africa in the exploration of the road of sustainable development.

China on the good side is putting real money into real economies, developing real and much needed infrastructure, affecting the lives of real people. This is a fresh approach towards African development. In the process, China is winning the hearts and minds of the people of Africa. Talk is cheap, and as far as China is concerned, they let the money do the walking. Others believe that this relationship is a threat to Africa`s growth and development, considering that trade between China and Africa is in favour of China. The influx of Chinese manufactured goods with low quality in African markets might have a negative effect on Africa labour market. However, on the other hand, the dependency of imported goods from China might have a negative effect on African Economic growth as she might be a victim of “resource curse” where Chinese takes raw materials and bring finished goods thus making manufacturing sector growth impossible.

In the end, it would be naïve to suggest that China is in Africa purely for altruistic reasons. China has done much to pursue its own interests in Africa, yet that is not to say there are no benefits for the Africans. On the contrary, there is a myriad of them, ranging from the latest multi-billion dollar oil-for-infrastructure deals to training centres for African doctors and nurses. China has shown that it understands what African countries need and want, and can provide them on a level that’s beneficial to both parties. There are negative effects too, such as the continuation of regimes like Zimbabwe, poor working conditions and the ethnic tensions that come with it. Some countries, like Lesotho and Mauritius, have weathered cheap Chinese exports with excellent government policies, and others, like South Africa, have instead stagnated.
Resources: (Branton Li)

©Copyright: All rights reserved. These publications may be freely reproduced with permission from the author.
Tony Stone

Women Empowerment: Can It Bring About Development?

Empowered Women

Empowered Women

“If society will not admit to woman’s free development, then society must be remodelled”. ~ Elizabeth Blackwell

Development is not just about offering the opportunity of a livelihood and access to basic social services: it is also concerned with creating an environment where people can realise their rights and participate meaningfully in society. Full development cannot be achieved unless women and the resources they represent are integrated into the development process. Investment in gender equality and women’s empowerment is vital for improving economic, social and political conditions in developing countries within the framework of sustainable development. A focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment in developing countries especially is a means to enhance the total effectiveness of development. The knowledge, insights and experience of both women and men are required if development is to be both effective and sustainable.

Empowerment in context refers to the ability of people to control their own destinies in relation to other people in society. There is no universal definition of women’s empowerment as factors such as socio-cultural, geographical, environmental, political and economic, as well as many other aspects of countries and regions influence it. Prominent definitions of empowerment can be: the expansion in people’s ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability was previously denied to them. According to The World Bank, empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. Disempowerment on the other hand is any action, policy development and/or relief program or process through which women’s and men’s priorities, needs and interests are further ignored, reducing their participation in decision-making and representing an obstacle to their economic, political and social improvement.
Women’s economic empowerment and empowerment at large can be achieved by targeting initiatives to expanding women’s socio-economic opportunity; strengthen their legal status and rights; and ensure their voice, inclusion and participation in economic decision-making A host of studies suggest that putting earnings in women’s hands is the intelligent thing to do to speed up development and the process of overcoming poverty. Women usually reinvest a much higher portion in their families and communities than men, spreading wealth beyond themselves. This could be one reason why countries with greater gender equality tend to have lower poverty rates. Biological differences between women and men do not change. But the social roles that they are required to play vary from one society to another and at different periods in history.

In most societies, men and women differ in the activities they undertake, in access and control of resources, and in participation in decision-making. In most societies, women as a group have less access than men to resources, opportunities and decision-making. These inequalities are a constraint to development because they limit the ability of women to develop and exercise their full capabilities, for their own benefit and for that of society as a whole. The nature of gender definitions (what it means to be male or female) and patterns of inequality vary among cultures and change over time. A recognition of this variability assists in the analysis of socio-economic contexts and relationships and the possibilities for change. UNIFEM (the United Nations Development Fund for Women) defines women’s economic empowerment as ‘having access to and control over the means to make a living on a sustainable and long term basis, and receiving the material benefits of this access and control. Such a definition goes beyond short-term goals of increasing women’s access to income and looks for longer term sustainable benefits, not only in terms of changes to laws and policies that constrain women’s participation in and benefits from development, but also in terms of power relationships at the household, community and market levels’
Development of the society is directly related with the Income Generation Capacity of its members with agriculture and other economic activities. Entrepreneurship on farm, home and other sectors can directly affect the income of a major chunk of our population. The growth of modernization processes such as industrialization, technical change; urbanization and migration further encourage it. Women comprise half of human resources they have been identified as key agents of sustainable development and women’s equality is as central to a more holistic approach towards establishing new patterns and process of development that are sustainable. Women have a central role to play in development processes, but their particular needs and rights are often not reflected in development policies and practices. Very often, policy-makers overlook key issues such as women’s right to own and inherit property, female genital mutilation, gender-based violence, access to reproductive health, the freedom to decide on the number and spacing of children, and equal representation in government and other decision-making bodies. Women earn only 10 % of the world’s income. Where women work for money, they may be limited to a set of jobs deemed suitable for women invariably low-pay, low-status positions. Women own less than 1 % of the world’s property. Where laws or customs prevent women from owning land or other productive assets, from getting loans or credit, or from having the right to inheritance or to own their home, they have no assets to leverage for economic stability and cannot invest in their own or their children’s futures. Women make up two-thirds of the estimated 876 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write; and girls make up 60% of the 77 million children not attending primary school. Education is among the most important drivers of human development: women who are educated have fewer children than those who are denied schooling (some studies correlate each additional year of education with a 10% drop in fertility). They delay their first pregnancies, have healthier children (each additional year of schooling a woman has is associated with a 5 to 10% decline in child deaths, according to the United Nations Population Fund)
Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, according to the United Nations Millennium Campaign to halve world poverty by the year 2015. The overwhelming majority of the labour that sustains life – growing food, cooking, raising children, caring for the elderly, maintaining a house, hauling water – is done by women, and universally this work is accorded low status and no pay. The ceaseless cycle of labour rarely shows up in economic analyses of a society’s production and value.

In Zambia, a Lenje man with many wives told CARE, “Women are like livestock,” meaning many things. They can be bought and sold, as cattle can, and they are a productive asset, as cattle are. To this man, women were extremely important – his cattle certainly were – but they had the status of a commodity.

Empirical evidence suggests that money in the hands of mothers (as opposed to their husbands) benefits children. Does this observation imply that targeting transfers to women is good economic policy? Claims that female empowerment promotes development are largely based on empirical evidence that higher female resources (in the form of income, education, or assets) are associated with higher spending on children. Hoddinott and Haddad (1995) used cross sectional data from the 1986/87 Living Standards Survey of the Cote d’Ivoire. The authors find that an increase in the wife’s share of income is associated with an increase in the share of expenditures on food, and a decrease in the share of expenditures on alcohol and cigarettes. Based on the same data, it was found that a higher female income share is associated with a better nutritional status of children (as measured by height for age), suggesting that at least some of the higher food expenditures are child related. A woman’s level of empowerment will vary, sometimes enormously, according to other criteria such as her class or caste, ethnicity, relative wealth, age, family position etc. and any analysis of women’s power or lack of it must appreciate these other contributory dimensions. Nevertheless, focusing on the empowerment of women as a group requires an analysis of gender relations i.e. the ways in which power relations between the sexes are constructed and maintained.
Five Dimensions of Women’s Empowerment

1. Access
2. Conscientization
3. Mobilization
4. Control
5. Gender Equality Mainstreaming

Access: Access refers to the idea that women should enjoy equal access with men to goods and services, which increases a woman’s overall security. To understand access as empowering, one must examine the social, political and economic context of a population. Access alone does not meet empowerment needs but is an important dimension of the empowerment process.

Conscientization: Conscientization is the process of becoming aware that gender roles and unequal relations are not part of a natural order, nor determined by biology. Gender roles are typically conveyed through everyday messages in government policies, law, the mass media, school textbooks, and religious and traditional practices. They often reflect systematic discrimination against a social group that limits choices or roles (for example, men should not look after children; women should not participate in elections). Empowerment entails the recognition by men and women that the subordination of women is imposed by a system of discrimination which is socially constructed, and can be altered. We are not saying women should be equal to men, but they should be given equal opportunities to develop.

Mobilization: Individual women at home are unlikely to make much progress in challenging traditional assumptions. Mobilization is the process of women meeting together to discuss common problems, very often leading to the formation of women’s organizations and networks and public lobbying for the recognition of women’s rights. Through mobilization, women identify gender inequalities, recognize the elements of discrimination and oppression, and devise collective strategies to challenge problems.

Control: Control refers to a BALANCE of power between women and men, so that neither is in a position of dominance. It means that women have power alongside men to influence their destiny and that of their society.
Gender equality mainstreaming: Gender equality mainstreaming is both a strategy and a process for transforming gender relations. It ensures that the different interests, needs and resources of women and men, girls and boys, are taken into consideration at every step. Governments and other actors should promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes so that, before decisions are taken, an analysis is made of the effects on women and men, respectively.

Women’s empowerment is essential for achieving gender equality and includes four main components. Integral to women’s physical and emotional well-being, these are also fundamental if women are to achieve equal political, economic, social and cultural rights.

1. The right to have the power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home. This component endows women with the freedom to pursue employment and maintain an income.

2. The right to have access to opportunities and resources. This component enables women to increase financial and non-financial assets and resources, including savings, land, business acquisitions, food, medical care and family planning needs.

3. The right to have and to determine choices. This component is critical to women’s choices within the household and marriage, including choices on the use of earnings, justification in refusing sexual intercourse and decisions about how many children to have.

4. A sense of self-worth. This component is relevant to domestic violence and the development of confidence within both the home and the society.

While one should not assume that all women want to work, it is safe to say that women want to be given the same freedom as men to choose work if they want to; and if they choose to work, they should have the same chance of finding decent jobs as men.


Recommendation 1: Encourage all stakeholders to establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality. Leadership from the top is essential to close the gender gaps. For example, a high-level task force may be established to identify priority areas, establish benchmarks and monitor progress. We know from experience that this can make a big difference.
Recommendation 2: Call on stakeholders to treat all women and men fairly at places of work, in communities and to respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination. Addressing gender inequality at places of work requires the implementation of gender-sensitive recruitment and retention practices, the development of flexible work options and equal representation of women and men in decision-making and governance roles.

Recommendation 3: Call on stakeholders to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men in all sectors of society. In work places, this may involve undertaking a gender sensitive inventory of health and safety conditions, surveying employees to elicit the views of women and men on health, safety and security issues, and tailoring company policies to serve the different concerns of women and men. Companies should adopt and publicize a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of violence at work.

Recommendation 4: Ask all stakeholders to promote education, training, skills and professional development for women. In order for women to have the same opportunities for career advancement as men, they must have equal access to education and training; this is especially important for encouraging women to explore non-traditional jobs and industries. For instance, a large European airline company reaches out to youth through education projects to break down the barriers that traditionally limit women to certain jobs in the industry and men to others. It is also critical that company employees, particularly male staff, are trained and educated on the company’s business case for women’s empowerment and inclusion.

Recommendation 5:
Call on companies to implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women. Companies can request information from current and potential suppliers on their gender and diversity policies and include these in criteria for contracting. Companies can analyze their existing supply chain and establish a baseline number of suppliers that are women-owned enterprises. Businesses should also respect the dignity of women in all marketing and other company materials and ensure that they are in no way contributing to or facilitating human trafficking and/or labour or sexual exploitation.
Recommendation 6: Focuses on what the private sector can do to promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy. For instance, a multinational mining company with operations in Ghana implemented a gender mainstreaming programme to encourage female employees to assume greater responsibility within the mine and connect to the local community. Similarly, a large international cosmetics company launched and sold products to raise funds for local organizations working to end domestic violence in their communities. There are many ways that the private sector can positively contribute to women’s rights and empowerment that involve the community and bring benefits to all.


It is essential to design, implement and monitor, with the full participation of women, effective, efficient and mutually reinforcing gender-sensitive policies and programmes, including development policies and programmes, at all levels that will foster the empowerment and advancement of women. The participation and contribution of all actors of civil society, particularly women’s groups and networks and other non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations, with full respect for their autonomy, in co-operation with Governments, are important to the effective implementation and follow-up of the Platform for Action and development.

©Copyright: All rights reserved. These publications may be freely reproduced with permission from the author.
Tony Stone

The Korean Rags to Riches Miracle: Lessons for ‘Poor’ Africa

South Korea's GDP PPP growth from 1911 to 2008

South Korea’s GDP PPP growth from 1911 to 2008

How a country went from highly impoverished to having the 13thlargest global economy

Korea is a small country located in the far eastern part of Asia, but has drawn worldwide attention from policy makers as well as scholars for its unprecedented economic growth. How a country moves from a highly impoverished nation to becoming the 12th largest economy in the world at its peak is puzzling. Hence the term ‘Korean Miracle’ fits this sporadic economic growth that has been attributed to a number of developmental strategies that this country implemented. A lot of developing countries can learn a lot from the Korean model has it has proved that with the right implementation of development strategies, political and social environment, countries are able to develop and bail themselves out of poverty. I am not however saying that this development model can be applicable to any country on a quest for development. The development path for every single country is different hence a model that worked for Korea may not work for Zambia, Zimbabwe or any other countries out there because factors and variables in this developmental path are different although some strategies can be harvested for a greater good. This paper looks at some of the strategies Korea employed along its developmental path and see what least developed countries can learn from this experience. Korea basically developed a 5year development plan that was amended along the way and saw this grow from the first development plan to the fifth. After the year 1962 when the first five year development plan was adopted, it had to go through various numbers of modifications during the implementation stages and by the time the fifth development plan was being implemented, Korea encountered a rapid annual economic growth of over 8%.

Since its 1945 liberation, Korean economic growth can be roughly divided into four stages: the reconstruction period from 1945 to 1961, the export-oriented growth period from 1962 to 1973, the crisis and recovery period from 1974 to 1982 and the adjustment and growth period from 1983 to 1992.
The per capita GDP of South Korea in 1960 was inferior to that of Senegal or Mozambique. Forty years later, the GDP per capita of Senegal hardly reaches $1,650 and that of Mozambique stands at $1,000. On the other side, the last available figures indicate that Korea’s GDP per capita has gone up to $13,300. Even after the serious currency and financial crisis of 1997-98, Korea remains as one of the economic success stories of the second half of the XX century. How did this economic “miracle” occur? Can other countries replicate Korea’s strategy successfully? The debate on the sources of this magnificent growth is by no means over. There are basically three attributes that governed this country to prosper and have a strong economy and these were 1-Strong Government Interventions 2. Education and Human development. 3. Democratization.

Factor 1: Strong Government Intervention

Korea’s economic take off occurred toward the end of a period of major policy reforms, a period that began after the ouster of its first president in 1960 and continued for several years after Chung Hee Park took control of the government in 1961. Like many other third world governments, Korea’s government selectively intervened to affect the allocation of resources among industrial activities. It also used similar policies like taxes and subsidies, credit rationing, various kinds of licensing, and the creation of public enterprises, for example. But these policies have been applied in the context of a radically different development strategy, one of export-led industrialization. From the 1960s, Korea embarked on an ambitious economic development plan with the hope of cutting off the prolonged vicious circle of poverty and to pave the way for the nation’s industrialization. In order to accomplish this objective, Korea prioritized first of all the building of social infrastructure and key industries to solve the so-called supply-bottle –neck problem. In addition, Korea adopted an export-oriented industrialization strategy, but with borrowed capital from abroad due to the lack of domestic capital formation. To make the best use and efficient mobilization of limited resources, Korea pursued a sort of unbalanced growth strategy through government-led economic management. The reforms were motivated by the views of those who thought the only way to negate Korea’s dependent status was by fundamentally changing the economy’s trajectory, away from one of industrialization focused on the domestic market. The following are some of the interventions that the government employed so see the country development its economy.

Import-Substitution (1963-66)

The main aim of economic activity during this period was to increase employment. Another goal was to improve the balance of payments. The basic strategy for labour absorption was to apply Labour-intensive methods to the construction of new infrastructure, including roads, dams, and irrigation projects. For balance of payments improvement, the main thrust was on import-substitute industrialization starting with industries that produce inputs for other industries– cement, fertilizer, refined petroleum, iron and steel and synthetic fibre that were capital-intensive. Self-sufficiency in grains was to be achieved within five years through stress on agricultural productivity increases, mainly through multiple cropping.

As of the end of 1995, Korea was the 12th largest economy in the world and the 12th largest trading nation at the same time. Since the end of the Korean War, per capita GNP had risen annually over 7% until the nation was hit by the crisis in 1997.

Export-led Growth (1967-1972)

Clearly, the initial conditions ruled out an agricultural development based program. Instead, they implied that development would have to be based on labour-intensive industrialization. Such a program would capitalize on Korea’s existing comparative advantage and result in the quickest poverty reduction.
Korea’s rapid growth and structural changes were largely an outcome of export oriented industrialization. During the 1962-73 period, the real value of total exports increased by 30% per annum. Consequently, the share of exports in GNP soared from 6.0% in 1962 to 30% in 1973. Economic performance of the Korean economy deteriorated throughout the 1970s as the economy was hit hard by price increases in oil and raw materials and the ensuing world recession, export growth slowed. Inflation rates measured by consumer price index jumped from 3.2% in 1973 to 20% in 1974, and remained in the double-digits throughout the 1970s. Because the government relied heavily on foreign borrowing for its large-scale investment projects, there was a persistent deficit in current account. As a result, the external debt grew rapidly throughout the 1970s, reaching $25 billion in 1980, or about 45% of GDP.

Heavy Industry Promotion (1973-1978)

This phase in Korea’s economic development, initiated in 1973, occurred at the direct instigation of Korea’s President and was considered premature by most economists who feared the potential impact of both its capital and its import intensity on a capital and natural resource poor economy.

Stabilization, Liberalization, Globalization and Economic Maturity (1979-1996)

The previous period left the economy with high inflation, a large current account deficit and a substantial foreign-debt problem. An orthodox deflationary program consisting of monetary and fiscal stringency, withdrawal of incentives from HCI industries, and an incomes-policy was therefore adopted. Naturally, it led to a downturn in the economy between 1979 and1981. This was followed by a liberalization program for financial markets leading to a positive real interest-rate, and a rise in private savings. Trade liberalization turned the chronic trade deficits into surpluses. Korea’s real growth rate rose to enviable levels (about 8.5%).

Factor 2: Education& Human development

Given the strong impetus from the Korean people and good evidence that education would lead to economic growth, the government launched a series of economic changes that were closely tied to educational goals. During the period from 1945 to 1961, before the economic boom, the available data indicate that Korea substantially expanded education. As Table 2 shows, school enrolments at all levels increased extremely rapidly from 1945 to 1965, except during the period of the Korean War.
One unique feature of Korea’s educational expansion in this early period is that school enrolments increased not gradually but, rather through sporadic jumps. The first major increase occurred in 1946 just after the Liberation when primary school enrolments jumped from 1.4 million to 2.2 million, and secondary school enrolments increased from 8,000 to 13,000 (see Table 2). This high growth of enrolments was unparalleled in the history of Korea.

Thanks to the strong growth of school enrolments, the educational attainments of the labour force increased remarkably from 1945 to 1960. As shown in Table 3, in 1960 about 56% of the adult population had received some primary education, whereas 20% had even obtained some secondary schooling. In contrast, in 1945 about 87% of adults had never received any formal schooling. Free and compulsory primary schooling became the policy in 1954, and by 1959, this goal was complete.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, government emphasized import substitution industries that were labor-intensive. Government focused on expansion of education access at secondary level and improvement of primary schooling.

Beginning in the mid-1970s and through the 1980s, economic policies emphasized the role of innovation and development of leadership in some industries. Upper secondary education was expanded along with tertiary education. Technical and vocational schools were built and supported.

Universities played a very special role in East Asian development – not as drivers of innovation but as shapers of human capital formation. Throughout the past half-century, universities were at the forefront in training large numbers of highly-skilled graduates, who could be employed successfully by domestic firms seeking to enter global industries, by multinational corporations, and not least by the institutions steering the economy’s industrial development. The foundation for this role played by the universities and newly established polytechnics was the steadily rising rate of adult literacy and numeracy, and the high quality of primary and secondary education. This is precisely what occurred in South Korea.

Factor 3: Democratization
Economic development caused conditions that in social science theory are called societal disequilibrium.
The demands for democracy of the 1980s constituted efforts to resynchronize the Korean value structure with its division of labour and to overcome the sense of injustice and unfairness that Koreans felt in the 1980s but not in the 1960s. Korea’s strategy of economic development, modelled after that of Japan, resulted in a pattern of markedly unbalanced development: high levels of economic development, significant levels of social development, and low levels of political development. This imbalance is particularly serious in cases where the strategy has produced great success in terms of its original premises – such as the case of Korea.

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Tony Stone

Changing lives: Impact of Foreign Aid on Income Inequality

Kadija Mohamed cooks food for her children, Somalia (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters)

Kadija Mohamed cooks food for her children, Somalia (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters)

Income inequality refers to the inequality of the distribution of individuals, household or some per capita measure of income among the population of a country. The efficacy of foreign aid is questioned frequently. Foreign aid is alleged to have “ulterior motives” of promoting donors’ interests and perpetuating poverty. The question whether this is true or not remains highly in the overall picture of aid, its history of performance and a lot other factors in countries where it is used. It is also accused of aggravating income inequality in recipient countries. The relationship between growth and income inequality has been difficult to decipher. Foreign aid and inequality have hitherto been attributed to be associated with many undesirable effects. However, few studies have been performed on foreign aid’s impact on inequality and vice-versa. Changes in inequality, however, are not solely the result of receipt of foreign aid. This discussion begins with the political stream. Because of the detrimental economic, political, and socio-political effects of inequality, it is important to understand what causes differences in inequality in various countries around the world. Economic development is an institutional rather than an infrastructural or technological problem. People respond to incentives, and the institutions defining those incentives have fundamental implications. In the case of “the advocates of nation building,” people are regarded as “bricks rather than human beings, bricks to be manipulated at will for the purposes of the rulers”. Failure to recognize that people respond to incentives has led to many of the policy disasters of the last several decades.

For this relationship to be assessed, models have been developed that deal with the type of aid being administered and conditions like labour supply is endogenous and households are identical in all aspects except in their initial endowments of capital, foreign debt and human capital, which is accumulated through learning-by-doing.

Inequality, on the other hand, has been the subject of a vast literature in development economics, and one major strand of that literature focused on the relationship between inequality and economic growth.

In many high-income countries relatively low inequality of incomes is achieved with the help of considerable transfer payments from the government budget. However, economists often argue that mitigating inequality by increasing the burden of government taxes tends to discourage investment, slow economic growth, and undermine a country’s international competitiveness.

Foreign aid money is given to these countries every year in amounts equalling millions and sometimes billions of dollars. If those amounts are causing even a small increase in inequality every year, after ten or fifteen years, inequality will be much higher than it is today. This will cause the growth that foreign aid is meant to encourage to slow or even stop. This will also cause extreme hardship for many of the citizens of these developing countries while providing unnecessary luxuries for a select few. The degree to which the inequality depicted in the parade of income distribution and aid efficiency is undesirably a normative issue. Commentators concerned with poverty levels in society will argue that one of the major roles of government should involve some degree of re-distribution. If a government is to play a role in such a process, then it needs to be informed about the distribution of wealth (which is a stock and can include a range of assets that include shares, land, houses as well as money) and the distribution of national income (which is a flow since it is paid per week, month, year etc.) The terms wealth and income should not be used interchangeably. The distribution of the stock of wealth will be much more unequal than the flow of income in a given year.

Excessive inequality adversely affects people’s quality of life, leading to a higher incidence of poverty, impeding progress in health and education, and contributing to crime. High inequality reduces the pool of people with access to the resources such as land or education needed to unleash their full productive potential. Thus a country deprives itself of the contributions the poor could make to its economic and social development.
High inequality limits the use of important market instruments such as changes in prices and fines. For example, higher rates for electricity and hot water might promote energy efficiency but in the face of serious inequality, governments introducing even slightly higher rates risk causing extreme deprivation among the poorest citizens.

Hence the relationship in foreign aid and income is still fuzzy; some researchers agree on positive relationship, some other favour the negative relationship, and while rest have suggested mixed relationship.

Traditional factors Contributing to Income Inequality

• Innate Abilities and Attributes: Individuals are not all born with the same abilities and qualities.

• Work and Leisure: There is a tradeoff between work and leisure: More work means less leisure, less work means more leisure.

• Education and Other Training: Generally, this is human capital – the education, the development of skills, and anything else that is particular to the individual and increases his or her productivity.

• Risk Taking: Individuals have different attitude towards risk.

• Luck: When individuals can’t explain why something has happened to them, they often say it was the result of good or bad luck. In the long run, such factors as innate ability and attributes, education, and personal decisions are more likely to have a larger sustained effect on income than good or bad luck.

• Wage Discrimination: This exists when individuals of equal ability and productivity, as measured by their marginal revenue products, are paid different wage rates by the same employer.

The main conclusion is that the distributional effects of foreign aid depend on whether the transfer is tied or not. In general, untied aid reduces both wealth and income inequality, whereas tied aid has adverse distributional effects. Moreover, the increase in wealth and income inequality following aid tied to public capital is higher than it is after an aid shock tied to human capital. On the other hand, tying aid is growth-enhancing while untied aid is harmful to economic growth. Most economists have found a negative correlation between wealth and income inequality and economic growth when all aid is untied and in cases where aid is tied to human capital, a positive correlation is found. It must be remembered, however, that foreign aid is intended to increase the well-being of the poor alone. Most aid giving organizations obtain contributions and operate under the goal of decreasing world poverty. Because of this fact, our finding that foreign aid has a small but positive effect on inequality is very important. This finding shows that while aid may help the poor, it is obviously helping the rich more.

I do suggest, however, that the way in which aid is given to these developing countries be improved. It is obvious from our results that foreign aid is not decreasing inequality but increasing it. Because of this, aid organizations should revaluate their methods for giving foreign aid. Careful analysis should be performed to determine which types of aid cause inequality to increase and which help relieve the problem of extreme inequality. We suggest that aid organizations increase their level of responsibility and use their money to improve the conditions and the incomes of the poor more than the conditions and the incomes of the rich. If one of the key goals of foreign aid giving, reducing inequality, is not being met, the way in which aid is distributed should be changed.

Timothy Layton and Dr Daniel Nielson, Brigham Young University
Muhammad Shafiullah, Department of Economics, North South University

©Copyright: All rights reserved. These publications may be freely reproduced with permission from the author.
Tony Stone

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