Neo-Liberalism and the Resource Curse of Africa

Topics: Africa, Burkina Faso, Neoliberalism Pages: 8 (3264 words) Published: December 10, 2012
Neo-liberalism and the resource curse of Africa
Globalization is described as the accelerated flow of goods/services, information and people but since colonialism theses flows have permitted many countries (the West) to build strong states, governments and accumulation of wealth ; while others ( Africa) were still held back by political instability, social inequality and economic injustice. Inequality in African countries puts Africa in a pre and post modernist era, and with such instability the neo-liberalism concept adapted in the global contemporary capitalist system has caused chaos, more instability and uneven share of wealth. The initiation of African developing countries into a global capitalist system associated with neo-liberalism has accentuated the problems in these countries. Africa is a continent rich with petroleum, gold mines, minerals, rhinestone and so many more but the exploitation of these riches have been and are still ongoing by the West and thanks to neo-liberalism and its policies it has made it even easier for Africa to be exploited and used. Neo-liberalism is defined as a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade (Harvey 22). (Caffentzis 2002) is a scholar who focuses on developing countries and policies, describes neo-liberalism as a theory where all human activity is always already a commodity and it is to organize these activities through a market…the True, the Good, the Just, the Beautiful and every other capitalized ideal become, in the neoliberal gaze, the many veiled form of the Commodity. Ultimately this ideology should allow Africa to develop based on its abundance of resources but neo-liberalism comes with principles and policies that do not benefit a continent with unstable economic growth. (Kass 2008) notes that in his 2006 State of the Union Address, President Bush declared that: “America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.” The instability of these African countries is very apparent.

From the flow of goods and services one of the main imperatives of neoliberal policy in agriculture (Caffentzis 2002) highlights, is to shift production from subsistence crops or crops for domestic market consumption to export crops... At first there was a slight rise in prices in the early 1980s but between 1986 and 1993 the price of African cocoa collapsed about 60%. When farmers are asked to stop producing crops to sustain them and their families to instead produce cash crops such as cocoa, all are willing to do as they are told in order to make more money. Some may leave their small lands to go work on bigger plantations of cocoa, and others may buy bigger lands in order to produce more. While all of this is happening the price of cocoa starts to fluctuate and to shift downwards because everyone is competing for the same thing.

This massive production will incite young adults to abandon school in order to help their families on the land and also some money, which further delays their education. Children also may be found on these plantations as the video presented by our classmates on “Chocolate” demonstrated. By asking farmers to shift their mode of production, it brought other problems such as illiteracy of young adults, child trafficking and the expenses for farmers to purchase foods. Corporations may employ middle men to find the best cocoa producers, then the cocoa has to be treated before sent abroad and all of these expenses cut the revenues of the farmers. With the hard works and little incentives, farmers may start feeling disadvantaged and may start unionizing against those corporations which then again brings more issues.

Looking at the flow of information, Western countries are always coming out with better...
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