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POLSC325: African Politics

Unit 4: African Political Economies   In addition to political challenges, Africa faces related economic challenges. Success stories like Botswana and Senegal notwithstanding, many African countries struggle with food insecurity, low foreign investment, and debt.  Some of these problems stem from colonialism, which diverted trade revenues from Africa to Europe and weakened political and economic institutions.  Countries with sizeable European settler populations, like Zimbabwe, have also undergone contentious post-colonial land reform programs.  Economic underdevelopment has dominated African policy agendas since independence, despite the fact that Africa is richer in natural resources than most continents.  This unit will survey the African political economy, emphasizing Africa’s position in the global marketplace.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take you 15 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4:2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4:3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4:4: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 4:5: 4.5 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Define underdevelopment. - Explain the relationship between trade, debt, and underdevelopment. - Identify the political actions that have contributed to chronic underdevelopment and food shortage in the continent. - Define structural adjustment programs and explain how they have affected economic development in Africa. - Explain the role of foreign aid in addressing underdevelopment. - Explain how globalization has impacted Africa.

4.1 Development and Underdevelopment   - Reading: Government of Norway, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Jarle Simensen’s “Africa: the Causes of Under-development and the Challenges of Globalization” Link: Government of Norway, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Jarle Simensen’s “Africa: the Causes of Under-development and the Challenges of Globalization” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire article.  Despite the vast amount of natural resources it has, much of Africa remains underdeveloped.  In this article, Simensen explores the various historical factors that may account for Africa’s current underdevelopment.  These factors range from the slave trade and colonialism to globalization and weak political institutions.  Do you think it is reasonable to include historical elements in an explanation of the causes of Africa’s underdevelopment?  Why, or why not?

  This reading should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes
to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: The World Bank’s “Africa Regional Brief” and “50 Things You Didn’t Know about Africa” and African Economic Outlook’s “Human Development” Link: The World Bank’s “Africa Regional Brief” (PDF) and “50 Things You Didn’t Know about Africa” (PDF) and African Economic Outlook’s“Human Development” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the links above, and read these three brief readings about economic and social indicators of African development.  When African countries became independent, many saw levels of economic development comparable to those of their counterparts in Asia.  In 1960, South Korea’s GNP per capita was $155, while Ghana’s was $170.   Forty years later, South Korea’s GNP per capita was $10,800, while Ghana’s remained $250.  Many developing states in Africa tried to promote development by following the examples of industrialized states.  They began to develop infrastructure, mechanize farming, and expand higher education.  This subunit will provide tools for studying economic development and will allow you to analyze why some African economies struggled while others took off.  
     
    These readings should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
     
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4.2 Aid, Trade, and Debt in African Politics   - Reading: ONE’s “Trade and Investment,” “Debt Cancellation” and “Aid Effectiveness” Link: ONE’s “Trade and Investment,” (HTML) “Debt Cancellation” (HTML) and “Aid Effectiveness” (HTML)
Instructions: Please read these three issue briefs provided by the NGO known as ONE.  They are part of the ‘issues affecting global poverty’ series on ONE’s website.
 
These readings should take you approximately 1 hour to complete.
 
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  • Reading: Yale University’s YaleGlobal Online: Mary Robinson’s “Africa Needs Fair Trade, Not Charity Link: Yale University’s YaleGlobal Online: Mary Robinson’s “Africa Needs Fair Trade, Not Charity” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this essay by Mary Robinson,  the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  She discusses the role of trade in propelling socio-economic development in Africa.  Pay particular attention to the difference between free trade and fair trade.  In essence, trade policies of the world’s richest countries continue to be a stumbling block to African development, as too many markets remain closed to African exports.  Please note that Robinson does not limit her argument to trade policies; she also acknowledges the pivotal roles of additional factors such as corruption and investment.  Also, note the interconnectedness of domestic and foreign policies with respect to trade.  Policies that are beneficial domestically may have detrimental consequences elsewhere and vice versa. Hence, the formulation and implementation of mutually successful trade policies is extremely challenging.
     
    This reading should take you approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
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  • Reading: CATO Institute: James Bovard’s “The Continuing Failure of Foreign Aid” Link: CATO Institute: James Bovard’s “The Continuing Failure of Foreign Aid” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Though the goal of foreign aid is to improve economic conditions in Africa, it has also led to unintended negative effects.  In this article, Bovard points out how foreign aid led to dependence and poor economic outcomes.  What do you think?  Do you believe foreign aid is bad for Africa?  Are there any weaknesses in the article? Compare and contrast Bovard’s arguments to those presented by ONE  .
     
    This reading should take you approximately 1.5 hours to complete.
     
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4.3 The Experience of Structural Adjustment in Africa   - Reading: Center for Economic and Policy Research (CER): Robert Naiman’s and Neil Watkins’ “A Survey of the Impacts of IMF Structural Adjustment in Africa: Growth, Social Spending, and Debt Relief” Link: Center for Economic and Policy Research (CER): Robert Naiman’s and Neil Watkins’ “A Survey of the Impacts of IMF Structural Adjustment in Africa: Growth, Social Spending, and Debt Relief” (HTML)

Instructions: Please read the article linked above. By the 1980s, it
had become evident that the modernization and industrialization
policies many African countries had tried to implement had failed.
Economic underdevelopment and political instability were widespread.
In 1980, Africa’s external debt reached $15 billion, a large portion
of which was owed to IMF and the World Bank. In order to accelerate
economic growth and reduce foreign debt, these institutions
implemented structural adjustment programs on African countries. In
this resource, you will read about such programs and evaluate their
impact in Africa.

This reading should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

4.4 African Agriculture and the Politics of Food Security   - Reading: United Nations’ Office of the Special Adviser on Africa: Angela Mwaniki’s “Achieving Food Security in Africa: Challenges and Issues” and ONE’s “Agriculture” Link: United Nations’ Office of the Special Adviser on Africa:Angela Mwaniki’s “Achieving Food Security in Africa: Challenges and Issues” (PDF) and ONE’s “Agriculture” (HTML)
 
Instructions: The first link takes you to a list of reports and publications by the UN’s Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.  Scroll down to the subheading ‘other reports,’ and click on the title of the article to access a PDF version.  The second link calls up an issue brief by ONE.  Despite a wealth of natural resources and a substantial amount of foreign aid, some African countries still struggle with hunger and depend on food aid. These readings suggest several reasons for food insecurity.  Some point to natural causes, while others emphasize policy failure.  Are there substantial differences in the two readings with respect to agriculture and food security in Africa?
 
These readings should take you approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
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4.5 African Economies and Globalization   - Reading: Nordic Africa Institute: Odoziobodo Severus Ifeanyi’s “Globalization and International Relations: Whither Africa?” Link: Nordic Africa Institute: Odoziobodo Severus Ifeanyi’s “Globalization and International Relations: Whither Africa?” (PDF)
 
Instructions: The link above takes you to a panel description of the 4th European Conference on African Studies held in Sweden in 2011. Scroll down to the title of the paper and click the link to download the full paper. Ifeanyi considers globalization to be disastrous for Africa. What are his arguments?
           
This reading should take you approximately 3 hours to complete.
 
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  • Reading: International Monetary Fund (IMF): Stanley Fischer’s “The Challenges of Globalization in Africa” Link: International Monetary Fund (IMF): Stanley Fischer’s “The Challenges of Globalization in Africa” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: In this speech, Stanley Fischer presents a view on globalization from the perspective of the IMF.  Central to this view is the notion that globalization is a multifaceted, ancient phenomenon   with mixed consequences.  It is paramount to tap into the potential benefits of globalization by pursuing economic policies that integrate rather than marginalize.  Hence, globalization is not necessarily bad for Africa.
     
    Fischer suggests that Africa can embrace trade and financial liberalization and improve its economy.  However, he also points out that international actors (such as the IMF and industrialized states) must take responsibility in helping Africa in the process.  As you read, identify his argument and contrast it with Ifeanyi’s article.  Whose arguments are more convincing?  Why?
     
    This reading should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
     
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  • Reading: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s -Current History: Josh Kurlantzick and Joshua Eisenman’s “China’s Africa Strategy” Link: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s  -Current History: Josh Kurlantzick and Joshua Eisenman’s “China’s Africa Strategy” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above to access the abstract of this article.  To download the PDF version of this article, click on the title of the article at the top of the abstract.  As one manifestation of globalization, China’s increased involvement in Africa inspires both optimism and concern.  China has formed political and economic relationships with many African states over the past two decades  and recently financed the construction of the African Union’s new headquarters  in Addis Ababa. .  Please read this short article for an overview of China’s relationship with Africa.  Is this relationship mutually beneficial or harmful to Africa?
     
    This reading should take you approximately 45 minutes to complete.
     
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