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Sub-Saharan Africa as the global periphery

Furthermore, it is important to underscore the seriousness of the African situation in comparison with other third world regions. Africa has become the outer periphery of the world economy, the poorest continental region of the world (Simon 1992, 1993) and commensurately marginal politically (Harbeson and Rothchild 1992). A glance at some World Bank and OECD data underscores the point.

Sub-Saharan Africa's dismal economic performance, relative both to all low-income countries and to other continental regions of the South, is starkly illustrated in table 5.1. Whereas the region experienced the fastest growth of value-added in industry until 1973, it has been the slowest growing since then and even declined during 1980s. In fact, during the 1980s, Sub-Saharan Africa's results for all three sectors were the poorest. This situation is clearly unsustainable, given population growth rates and rising expectations.

The rate of return in industry has been so low that transnational corporations (TNCs) disinvested during the 1980s (Bennell 1990; Simon 1992, 1993). Even in South Africa, sanctions proved little more than an expedient political flag under which TNCs withdrew. The Sub-Saharan countries now account for an insignificant percentage of the industrial foreign direct investment (FDI) portfolios of most TNCs, given the strong performance of the Pacific Rim economies, for example. Thus, in respect of global industrial FDI by United Kingdom firms, Sub-Saharan Africa's share fell from around 4 per cent in the mid-1970s to 0.5 per cent in 1986 (Bennell 1990). I see little prospect of major new net FDI flows into Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole in the foreseeable future, despite the severity of structural adjustment having been predicated largely on the assumption by the IMF and the World Bank, in particular, that creating the "right" economic conditions would prove attractive to large-scale FDI. Yet, although still the world's least urbanized continental region (30-35 per cent), Africa (and Sub-Saharan Africa) - the poorest continent - is actually experiencing the most rapid rate of urbanization (O'Connor 1991; Gilbert and Gugler 1992; Simon 1992).

From table 5.2 it is evident that, although the net indebtedness of the Sub-Saharan countries is comparatively small in US dollar terms, it is extremely serious and unsustainable relative to the size and structure of the continent's economies - as measured by debt service ratios. Moreover, Sub-Saharan Africa's position deteriorated dramatically during the 1980s and is now worse than that of Latin America, the continent that precipitated the debt crisis and that has shown modest improvement over the 1980s on some indicators. Table 5.2 includes three slightly different forms of debt service ratio in order to highlight both the consistency of the region's deterioration across these variables and the sensitivity of the magnitude of such change to the particular variable(s) used. Table 5.3 shows the extent of Sub

Table 5.1 Sectoral growth rates, 1965-1989 (average annual percentage change of value-added)

 

Agriculture

Industry

Services

Country group 1965-73 1973-80 1980-89a 1965-73 1973-80 1980-89 1965-73 1973--80 1980-89
Low-income economies 2.9 1.8 4.3 10.7 7.0 8.7 6.3 5.3 6.1
Middle-income economies 3.2 3.0 2.7 8.0 4.0 3.2 7.6 6.3 3.1
Severely indebted middle-income economies 3.1 3.6 2.7 6.8 5.4 1.0 7.2 5.4 1.7
Sub-Saharan Africa 2.2 - 0.3 1.8 13.9 4.2 - 0.2 4.1 3.1 1.5
East Asia 3.2 2.5 5.3 12.7 9.2 10.3 10.5 7.3 79
South Asia 3.1 2.2 2.7 3.9 5.6 7.2 4.0 5.3 6.1
Latin America and the Caribbean 3.0 3.7 2.5 6.8 5.1 1.1 7.3 5.4 1.7

Source: World Bank (1990: 162).
a. Figures in italic in the 1980 89 columns are not for the full decade.

Table 5.2 The external debt burden' 1990 and 1980

Region/ineome categorya

Total external debt as % of exports of goods and services

Total debt service as % of exports

Interest payments as % of exports

  1990 1980 1990 1980 1990 1980
Sub-Saharan Afriea 324.3 96.8 19.3 10.9 8.9 5.7
Low-income countries, of which 218.5 105.1 20.1 10.3 9.3 5.1
1 Mozambique 1,573.3 - 14.4 - 7.7 -
2 Tanzania 1,070.7 317.8 25.8 19.6 10.9 10.0
3 Ethiopia 480.3 136.2 33.0 7.6 8.1 4.7
4 Somalia 2,576.2 252.0 11.7 4.9 5.8 0.9
9 Malawi 328.5 260.8 22.5 27.7 9.1 16.7
17 Nigeria 242.7 32.2 20.3 4.2 12.1 3.3
18 Niger 464.2 132.8 24.1 21.7 8.9 12.9
25 Kenya 306.3 165.1 33.8 21.4 14.8 11.3
27 Ghana 353.4 116.0 34.9 13.1 9.9 4.4
34 Lesotho 41.2 19.5 2.4 1.5 0.8 0.6
Lower-middle-income countries, of which 179.0 115.2 20.3 18.8 8.4 9.1
45 Zimbabwe 155.0 45.4 22.6 3.8 9.6 1.5
46 Senegal 236.8 162.7 20.4 28.7 8.1 10.5
48 Cote d'lvoire 487.4 160.7 38.6 28.3 13.3 13.0
56 Congo 352.5 146.7 20.7 10.8 10.5 6.7
71 Botswana 22.9 17.S 4.4 1.9 1.6 1.1
Upper-middle-income countries, of which 132.1 159.6 17.9 31.0 8.2 16.6
93 Gabon 138.4 62.2 7.6 17.7 5.0 6.3
East Asia and Pacific 91.1 88.8 14.6 13.5 5.8 7.7
South Asia 281.5 162.9 25.9 12.2 13.1 5.2
Bangladesh 448.2 345.6 25.4 23.2 7.7 6.4
India 282.4 136.0 28.X 9.3 15.9 4.2
Europe 125.7 90.6 16.9 15.9 6.8 7.1
Middle East and North Africa 180.3 114.9 24.4 16.4 8.1 7.4
Latin America and Caribbean 257.4 196.8 25.0 37.3 13.3 19.7
Mexico 222.0 259.2 27.8 49.5 16.7 27.4
Brazil 326.8 304.9 20.8 63.1 8.2 33.8

Source: World Bank (19Y2).
a. Regional and income category averages are weighted hy size of flows.

Table 5.3 Official development assistance (ODA) by region and origin, 1984-1990 (current US$m)

  1984 % 1988 % 1989 % 1990 %
Europe:
Net disbursements (all sources), of which 414.7 1 522.6 1 356.7 1 1,496.5a 3
from DAC countries 302.0 73 477.1 91 358.7 101 783.5 52
by multilateral agencies 74.3 18 86.0 16 39.7 11 41.5 3
Africa:
Net disbursements (all sources) 11,375.2 37 17,694.0 38 18,286.2 39 25,512.0 43
from DAC countries 7,515.9 66 12,532.1 71 12,654.0 69 16,561.9 65
by multilateral agencies 2,823.3 25 4,924.6 28 5,528.8 30 6,104.2 24
Africa north of Sahara:
Net disbursements (all sources) 2,424.3 8 2,527.2 5 2,445.9 5 7,146.4b 12
from DAC countries 2,156.0 89 2,205.9 87 2,090.8 85 4,142.3 58
by multilateral agencies 211.0 9 286.1 11 355.0 15 265.4 4
Africa south of Sahara:
Net disbursements (all sources) 8,211.1 27 14,801.6 32 15,304.3 32 17,879.4 30
from DAC countries 5,216.1 64 10,123.5 68 10,220.7 67 12,146.3 68
by multilateral agencies 2,506.7 31 4,482.4 30 4,983.5 33 5,626.1 31
North & Central America:
Net disbursements (all sources) 2,248.4 7 3,213.6 7 3,380.4 7 3,991.1 7
from DAC countries 1,775.3 79 2,697.3 84 2,865.0 85 3,471.8 87
by multilateral agencies 473.2 21 515.9 16 514.5 15 519.6 13
South America:
Net disbursements (all sources) 1,101.6 4 1,639.4 4 1,885.6 4 2,078.0 3
from DAC countries 774.5 70 1,271.6 78 1,518.0 81 1,631.9 79
by multilateral agencies 329.6 30 368.1 22 368.3 20 446.2 27
Middle East:
Net disbursements (all sources) 3,456.2 11 2,441.5 5 2,305.4 5 4,118.2c 7
from DAC countries 1,537.1 44 1,913.9 78 1,806.9 78 2,200.5 53
by multilateral agencies 233.7 7 232.8 10 364.0 16 560.2 14
South Asia:
Net disbursements (all sources) 4,544.7 15 6,718.9 14 6,309.8 13 6,334.6 11
from DAC countries 2,184.2 48 3,991.2 59 3,658.7 58 3,343.3 53
by multilateral agencies 2,310.3 51 2,767.5 41 2,693.7 43 3,004.4 47
Far East:
Net disbursements (all sources) 2,852.4 9 5,520.9 12 6,292.2 13 6,997.9 12
from DAC countries 2,205.2 77 4,326.4 78 5,086.1 81 5,595.4 80
by multilateral agencies 547.8 19 1,200.0 22 1,208.1 19 1,364.2 19
Oceania:
Net disbursements (all sources) 971.7 3 1,436.4 3 1,361.6 3 1,348.5 2
from DAC countries 912.4 94 1,291.3 90 1,273.6 94 1,214.7 90
by multilateral agencies 59.3 6 144.9 10 87.8 6 133.5 10
TOTAL
Net disbursements (all sources) 30,984.9 100 46,370.1 100 47,281.1 100 59,828.2 100
from DAC countries 19,693.8 64 33,155.9 72 34,228.1 72 40,225.7 67
by multilateral agencies 7,637.0 25 11,326.9 24 11,736.3 25 13,447.1 22

Source: OECD, Geographical Distribution of Financual Flows to Developing Countries: Disbursements, Commitments, Economic Indicators, 1987/1990. Paris, 1992.
Note: Neither the annual totals nor percentages for all regions add up exactly to the global totals because of various unspecified and unallocated disbursements.
a. Turkey received a dramatically increased allocation in 1990.
b. Egypt received a dramatically increased allocation in lsso.
c. Syna received a dramatically increased allocation in 1990 (back to levels of 1987 and earlier).

Saharan Africa's current high aid reliance relative to other regions, a picture unlikely to change much in the near future.

Implications for urbanization and industrialization

The preceding analysis leads me to the following set of linked contentions with respect to the future prospects for urbanization and industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa.

1. Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly urbanization of and by the poor; urban environments are increasingly environments of poverty, with all the attendant pressures and problems not least for the poor themselves.

2. In the struggle to survive, poor people inevitably put today's food and income ahead of tomorrow's environment, be it urban or rural. Generally, the environment suffers, although refuse-pickers and associated scrap-recycling activities may reduce urban solid waste disposal and litter problems significantly - albeit under unhealthy and even hazardous conditions (see Furedy 1990; Bouverie 1991).

3. Industrialization in Sub-Saharan Africa is highly unlikely to expand and diversify dramatically or to provide a great many more jobs in the near future, even after restructuring, more selective investment, and greater domestic sourcing of inputs where possible. The most significant industrial growth is likely to occur in the relatively small-scale sector (see 5 below).

4. Moreover, recession and state sector cut-backs under structural adjustment are exacerbating industrial pressures on the environment and often make the enforcement of conservation or pollution abatement legislation - even where such does now exist, as in Nigeria - more rather than less difficult.

5. Existing urban conditions and current trends are clearly unsustainable, and rather more radical changes will be required to promote sustainability than is implied in more official pronouncements by local, regional, or national state bodies and private companies around the world on the subject. Equally, the view that the environment is of secondary importance to the imperative of employment generation and economic growth must be challenged as untenable in the face of the wealth of available evidence. The basic prerequisite is action on poverty in the broadest sense. Different forms and types of industrialization, technology, and energy policies must be explored, promoting local suitability, greater local and sustainable resource use, and, where appropriate, more labour-intensive techniques (Environment and Urbanization 1992). The building materials industry is a prime case for treatment (Simon 1992), with major potential environmental and economic benefits. Generally, the "informal" and wider small business sectors can play a significant role within integrated strategies but do not represent a panacea in themselves. There is now a well-established case for addressing the problems and needs of small enterprises (both formal and "informal") in an integrated manner (Bromley 1993).

6. Urban management and government (or "governance," in contemporary international agency parlance) will also need to undergo major reorganization in line with these objectives, the need to democratize structures, and fuller public participation and control (Stren and White 1989; Environment and Urbanization 1991; Devas and Rakodi 1993; chap. 6 in this volume). Although the new rhetoric is now being widely adopted, substantive change is still rarely evident. Addressing the continued alienation of a sizeable proportion of the urban population represents a formidable challenge.

7. Given Sub-Saharan Africa's global position, greater collective selfreliance and innovativeness will be necessary. The shift in emphasis underlying the reconstitution of the Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC) as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in August 1992 is indicative of such thinking. Counter-trade and other unconventional forms of exchange may need to be expanded. Current democratization across Sub-Saharan Africa could also be instrumental, if it proves genuine and substantive rather than purely symbolic. Overall, the problems remain formidable but I do sense renewed hope and energy amid the poverty, despair, and violence in many parts of the continent. Although the much-vaunted dawning of a post-Cold War "new world order" has clearly proved premature - in Africa as elsewhere - some significant gains have been made in many states, even as Angola and Somalia sink ever deeper into chaos. It is also worth reminding ourselves that the critical instability currently gripping Sub-Saharan Africa's most populous and well-endowed countries (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zaire) symbolizes the difficulties and resistance to be overcome in moving to a more open, democratic, participatory - and therefore potentially sustainable - order.


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