Thinking about Africa

I rarely write anything about politics or my view of the world, but Arvind’s post “Africa: why it’s fucked up and what you can do” appealed too much to the armchair economist in me to keep quiet. Particularly interesting is this quote:

The main problem with Africa is petty dictators. Don’t take my word for it — a Ghanaian economist argues passionately for this view in this video. One phrase in particular is worth quoting — “Africa’s begging bowl leaks” referring to the futility of conventional foreign aid because of government corruption. He also explains how Africa’s traditional societies were free markets, even if not industrialized, and what Africa needs is more capitalism, not less.

Maybe the begging bowl is the problem. Africa needs to stop looking towards the West with a begging bowl and start looking towards the East with a photocopier instead. They need to open up their economies, encourage entrepreneurship and emulate what Asia has done over the past 50 years. After all, in countries like South Korea, China, India and Vietnam, economic liberalization has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and that has in turn led to political stability.

Also interesting:

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