Posts tagged ‘Economic Development’


African Development: Go To Cape Verde

African development requires at a minimum the elimination of hunger, improved health care, and greater education, but to reach these goals, smaller preliminary steps must first be taken, and instead of tackling all of Africa at the same time, a concentrated effort should begin in the island-nation of Cape Verde.

Why begin in Cape Verde? It has a population of only 491,575, and a unique geographical location, 350 miles from the West African Coast. It has year-round temperatures between 77 F and 84 F, dry air for nine months (Nov.-July), beautiful beaches, and an abundance of seafood for fishing expeditions. The islands could and should be promoted as a tourist destination, which would in turn provide jobs and money to achieve other goals. Once conditions are elevated throughout the island-nation, it can then become a base for improving life in the other African states.

Currently, Cape Verde has three international airports that provide daily flights to Europe, but additional air traffic from the U.S. and Brazil could transform the island-state into a continental stepping stone, like Hong Kong is for China, or London is for Europe.

While the local use of the Creole/Portuguese language is a match for tourists from Portuguese-speaking Brazil, Cape Verde needs English teachers to help them with travelers from the U.S.

But the area of development that would benefit the country more than anything else is drinking water. The problem now is usable water is in short supply, since there is no rain for nine months straight, and water wells cannot be dug, because the country is volcanic. Desalinization plants and drip irrigation methods are currently in use, but much more water is needed.

Cape Verde needs to make regional arrangements with nearby Guinea and Sierra Leone, two of the wettest places on earth, to pump rain water through pipelines, along the ocean floor. Usable water is needed to develop livestock, like cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. Although Cape Verde currently grows bananas, corn, beans, potatoes, sugarcane, peanuts, and coffee, more water would allow for a much stronger agricultural sector.

Once Cape Verde was fully-irrigated and green year round, foreign traffic would increase several times over. The arrival of tourists would trigger side trips to the nearby continental African countries, and economic development would spread.

Development has to start somewhere. Let’s start in Cape Verde. Upon making it a success, the neighboring states will follow.


Somalia Should Pipe West African Water

A drought responsible for the lowest amount of rain in 50 years has caused a return of famine in the Horn of Africa, in Southern Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. There was a similar episode 20 years ago, and a solution is needed for this recurrent problem.

While there is an immediate need for relief, work must also begin now on pipelines to redistribute the overabundance of water in West Africa to the dry regions of Northeast Africa. Four of the top 15 wettest nations on earth are in West Africa, including: Guinea, which ranks #1, Sierra Leone #3, Gabon #4, and Nigeria #15.

Guinea has a 200-mile Atlantic coast (9 N) and a rainy season from May through Dec. Sierra Leone (8 N), bordering Guinea, also has a swampy 210-mile Atlantic shore, which receives 195 inches of rain each year (April-Dec.) These poor states could benefit greatly from the sale of rain water to the dry regions. Gabon, in the elbow of West Africa (0 N), and also on the Atlantic, has Sep. through May rains. Nigeria, located on the West African south coast, has rain from April through Oct.

Gabon and Nigeria, both rich from oil revenues, have money to finance water pipelines, and experience from pumping oil. They could join with the Economic Community of West African States (ECWAS) to finance two water pipelines, one along a northern route, from the Atlantic at Guinea and Sierra Leone, due east through Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and into Somalia. A southern equatorial pipeline could start in Gabon and go east through the Congo, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, and also into Somalia.

Pipelines would bring a more permanent solution to the recurrent problem. The last time Somalia needed aid, Operation Somalia was authorized in 1992, but relief could not be delivered due to fighting in Mogadishu. President George H. W. Bush decided to prevent mass starvation by authorizing a U.S. Marine airlift. When President Clinton took office in 1993, he increased the size of the mission, under Operation Somalia II. When the U.S. started seizing weapons, however, they were accused of neo-colonialism, causing a Mogadishu mob to down two U.S. helicopters and murder U.S. soldiers, bringing the relief mission to an end.

The drought stricken area should not have to rely on airlifts for relief. Pipelines can and should be built. It’s just a matter of leadership, intergovernmental cooperation, and willpower.


African Development Is Needed

The African continent, with over 50 nations, needs to eliminate hunger, provide primary education, improve health standards, and develop international trade.

The process of development must start with the Africans themselves. They must establish democratic forms of government, in which representatives are chosen through free and fair elections. They need honest law enforcement officers, who cannot be bribed, and lawyers and judges to protect the rights of the accused. Their import offices, and sea and airport authorities, must be managed fairly. They need building inspectors, and tax collectors, who cannot be corrupted, and competent food inspectors. They must run efficient land title and post offices, and have good city transit systems.

Once the proper infrastructure is in place, the developed nations should then provide teachers to assist in primary education, and in the development of technical skills.

To eliminate hunger, education in food science is the first step. The fishing industry must thrive. Orchards can be planted, so locals have fresh fruit. Dairy farming is needed for milk. Livestock can be raised, using animal feeds. Meat processing and butchering can be taught. Some will need to learn veterinarian science. Crop farming methods must be explained, as to seeds, fertilizers, and irrigation. Grain elevators can be erected. Bakeries can be built. Some will need to learn grocery store management.

To improve health care, training is needed in medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, eye care, hygiene, and mortuary science. American and European health care professionals should help by training African students in the U.S. and Europe.

The Africans must develop their natural resources, such as oil, so their power plants can run. They need skills in transforming trees into lumber, rubber into tires, and sand and gravel into cement.

They need public utility development, such as electric power. Water and sewer treatment facilities must be built. They must improve waste disposal methods. They need pipelines for water, sewer, and gas. Water-well-drilling techniques must be taught.

The Africans need shipping and transportation, such as modern seaports for ocean-going vessels, and airports with air cargo facilities for intercontinental flights. Rail for freight and passenger trains must be laid. City buses are required for mass transit. Roads must be constructed, and the locals must be taught highway maintenance. They need mechanics for trucks and autos, with people who can fix brakes, mufflers, and transmissions. Tourism can be developed through hotel and resort construction.

Africans need to learn the global methods of money and banking. They must have a supply of trained bookkeepers and accountants.

Technical college training for building construction is needed so they have architects, excavators, carpenters, bricklayers, cabinet-makers, electricians, plumbers, and people to install furnaces, heating ducts, water heaters, and air-conditioning units.

Since communications is now global, they must erect cell phone towers, and cable and Internet lines, and learn laptop computer science, radio and TV broadcasting, and how to write newspapers.

In the retail industry, they must learn to market men’s and women’s cloths, shoes, furniture and bedding, and appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, washing machines, dryers, and electronics, including laptops, TVs, and radios.

Development is not an either or proposition, since all of the things listed above can be worked on simultaneously.


Haiti Needs A Cultural Revolution

As Haiti elected a new leader, Michel Martelly, the issue now is whether he can lead the Caribbean island-nation out of poverty? With nine million people, Haiti has about the same population as a typical U.S. state, but it differs in nearly every other respect.

Haiti is a relatively isolated island-state. Unlike the 50 U.S. states, where commerce flows across borders with ease, Haiti has only one neighbor by land, the Dominican Republic, which is over a mountain range, on the east side of the island. Cuba is by sea to the west, but they are of no help to Haiti. The U.S. is of course to the north, by water, but the U.S. Coast Guard stands in the way.

With natural barriers to trade, Haiti is largely on their own. They grow coffee, bananas, corn, beans and mangoes, but the export market is competitive, and these industries can only hire so many, and pay so much. Haiti has problems developing skilled jobs via the internet, or by any other means, since 47% of the people remain illiterate. Unemployment has at times hit 50%. To make things worse, a major earthquake struck the island in 2010. So, they rely on aid, as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Why is Haiti not more prosperous, like the nearby Puerto Rico, or at least Jamaica, on another island? The answer is they have had different colonial backgrounds, economic alliances and languages.

Haiti was ruled by France for 157 years (1647-1804), which explains why they speak French-Creole. When the black slaves revolted and Haiti became independent (1804), France ignored their economy. Haiti has been on their own for the past 207 years.

Puerto Rico was governed by Spain for 405 years (1493-1898), which is why they speak Spanish. After the Spanish-American War (1898), they became a U.S. territory, raised their literacy rate to 94%, and added English as an official language. Their success is due to their linkage to the U.S. economy for the past 113 years.

Jamaica was a British colony for 307 years (1655-1962). They were a part of the British Empire and enjoyed the benefits of the Commonwealth of Nations. English was taught in their schools and literacy climbed to 88%. Since independence 49 years ago, they have used the English language to develop U.S. tourism.

Haiti needs to change their culture, so it is not so much of an orphan in the Americas. It is the only independent state in this Hemisphere that uses French-Creole as a primary tongue. The principle language in the other 34 sovereign states is English, Spanish or Portuguese. Haiti needs to be able to communicate with ease with the English-speaking U.S.A.

The new Haitian president should conduct a Cultural Revolution to make all of their children primarily fluent in English, and secondarily in Spanish. While Haiti cannot expect the kind of aid the U.S. has given to the Puerto Rican territory, and will probably not gain their standard of living any time soon, if all Haitians would primarily learn and practice English, they could do more business with the U.S., and improve their economy, at least to the level of Jamaica’s. If Haiti would increase their literacy rates and emphasize English, they would do much better with economic development in this English-Spanish speaking Hemisphere.


Ivory Coast Sends Wrong Message

Ivory Coast, a country along the south coast of West Africa, has faced instability and unrest since the 2010 presidential election, when incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept the victory of his opponent, Alassane Quattara.

The election was monitored by international groups, who have confirmed that it was devoid of any voter fraud. The final count showed Quattara, the candidate from the north, receiving 54% of the vote, and Gbagbo, whose support was from the south, with just 45%. The UN subsequently endorsed Quattara as the winner.

Yet Gbagbo simply ignored the results and declared himself victorious, without any credible evidence to support his claim. He did this in spite of the Ivory Coast constitution that limits presidents to 10 years in office. No matter what the election outcome, it would appear Gbagbo is legally barred by the Ivorian Constitution from continuing, since he came to office in 2000 and has already served for 11 years.

The sad thing about personalities like Gbagbo is not so much what they do to their opponents, but the harm they inflict upon their own people, and the damage they cause to Africa as a whole. Africa needs to project a positive image of political stability, so tourism and international economic development may follow. People like Gbagbo contribute nothing to the advancement of Africa. Instead, they cause economic retreat and disinvestment.

After 117 years of French colonial rule, Ivory Coast started out in 1960 as one of the most successful in West Africa. The country’s first leader, Felix Boigny (1960-93), maintained close economic ties with France and the nation prospered. When their second leader, Henri Bedie (1993-99), faced economic troubles, he was taken out in a coup. Under Gbagbo, the country went through a civil war (2002-07) and now it is experiencing violence again.

Gbagbo tries to portray UN Peacekeepers and the international community as neo-colonial enemies. He accuses them of interfering in internal politics. But his attempt to make the globe a scapegoat is not helpful. Gbagbo must now step down and allow political stability, so global businesses can once again engage in economic development and Ivory Coast may once again prosper.