The Impact of Globalization on Africa's Social and Economic Conditions

Topics: South Africa, International Monetary Fund, Africa Pages: 5 (1592 words) Published: November 12, 2006
The Impact of Globalization on Africa's Social and Economic Conditions In the twentieth century, the phenomenon of globalization rapidly swept across the world forcefully and powerfully. The very concept of globalization is difficult to exactly define, as it has vast meanings to a vast number of people. Globalization is a relatively new term used to describe a very old process. It is a historical course of action that began with our human ancestors moving out of Africa to spread all over the globe. In the millennia that have followed, the issue of distance has become obsolete and human-made barriers decreased or removed to facilitate the exchange of goods and ideas. Propelled by the desire to improve one's life and helped along by technology, both the interconnectedness and interdependence have grown. This increasing integration of the world or 'globalization' has enriched life but also created new problems. There are several aspects of globalization that are not debated. Globalization certainly has not affected all people equally. Additionally, one may convincingly argue that globalization is driven by capitalism, Western thought, and liberalism. The United Nations defines globalization as: "the growing interdependence of the worlds peoples . . . A process integrating not just the economy but culture, technology, and governance. People everywhere are becoming connected—affected by events in far corners of the world" (Kiggundu, 4). Specialists on Africa, among others, have been drawn into the globalization paradigm, positing "globalization" as a challenge that Africa must meet or else as a construct through which to understand Africa's place in a world whose boundaries are apparently becoming more problematic. To the proponents of globalization, bringing capitalism and democracy to poor, developing countries is viewed as a gateway to increase quality of life economically and to create social equality. The critics of globalization claim that it ironically exacerbates the disparities that it hopes to eliminate or decrease. The imposition of austerity programs, the reduction of public services, the privatization of state-owned enterprises and resources, the erosion of democratic accountability, and a missionary belief in the absolute supremacy of "unregulated" markets, all are accompanying the ongoing spread of corporate globalization across the nations of the world. Although the transnational companies that help drive globalization are loyal to no nation, their interests are being well served by the policies of the United States. While globalization's pervasiveness is unchallenged, the fundamental issue of its value remains. China and India, for example, have benefited greatly from the effects of market reform due to globalization. However, globalization has also generated significant international opposition over concerns that it has increased discrimination and environmental abuse ( In Africa, the effects of globalization have been dismal at best. The thesis of this essay, then, is to defend the argument that globalization is not beneficial. Essentially, globalization has been the chief vehicle for the human rights violations, economic disparities, and general inequality in this region. The pressures to conform to universal codes of conduct has forced companies and enterprises to assimilate new values, which might be in conflict with traditional values or may be in direct opposition to community welfare. Institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have instilled policies that prevent developing countries from competing fairly on the global market and thus from attaining economic stability. Additionally, the unequal distribution of financial power to the elite ruling classes in many states works to fuel ethnic envy from the poor populations.

South Africa is a premier illustration of the effects of globalization. One distinctive...
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