Different countries in the world have got their own political system in order to have their countries run and organized and most of them belong to two major systems, namely presidential and parliamentary system and with their own unique characteristics. The presidential and parliamentary systems have lots of different characteristics in their nature and practical running, and each of them have their own virtues and vices. Facing the change of the world political situation and the new democracies, they have got their own advantages to the development of the new democracies; however, there is no universal answer for all the countries in world of which system is more suitable for their new democracies.
For presidentialism, it is a system which gives the president the most power in the ruling of the country.((((Find sources / define))). The president usually centralized the political power and symbolic power in his own hand.(CITATION) For political power, he has got a cabinet who is responsible for him and helping him to make various kinds of decisions in different matters, including both daily routines decisions and some important decisions like declaring wars and appointing the government officials, he has got the highest power in executing the policies in a country.
For the symbolic power of the president, he represents a state.(CITE) He would be responsible for most of the external issues, like expressing the stand point and the view of a country towards a specific issue, receiving the foreign ambassadors and visiting the other countries in order to promote the country and establish different kinds of networks, including the strategic and economic ones.
Like for the president of the United States, the country which is the representative of the presidentialism, Obama, he has been viewed as the symbol of United States nowadays. He has to represent the United States to attend different international conferences like the G20 Seoul Summit in 2010(Cite) and he has recently visited 4 countries in Asia and India. He has to do these visits in order to promote the State’s interests and establish links and relationships with other countries.
The most significant characteristic of the presidential system is the separation of power. The power of legislative and executive is separated and they are independent from each other. There are different elections for electing the members of the executive and legislative branches respectively and hence the two branches may be controlled by different political parties.
The parliamentary system is another major political system accounting for around 30% of all the governments (p.42) in the modern world and the assembly is allowed to remove the government (p.34). The parliamentary system has major characteristics of the fusion of power which the legislative and executive power was hold by the same body.
The symbolic and the political power in the parliamentary system is, unlike the presidential system, separated in two separate individuals and the two individuals are usually called ‘the head of state’ and ‘chief executive’ and the title is subject to change in different countries.(Cite). The example of head of state in the modern states include the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, the Emperor of Japan, Akihito (cite?) and their function is to symbolize the state and responsible for the external issues like receiving ambassadors and performing many of the ceremonial tasks. Some of the head of state is chosen by succession and the others are usually chosen by a governmental body like the legislature.(Cite)
The chief executive is responsible for the other part of the country management, he is the chief of the executive branch, and he is responsible for the policymaking and also the daily operation of the government. The chief executive is usually come from the majority party in the parliament, however when there is not a majority political party, there may be a coalition government governing the state, like in Britain.
Not 100% of the democratic form of government is of parliamentary and presidential system. In 2000, around 20% of the government in democratic systems is of mixed system, containing both the characteristics of parliamentary and presidential system.(Cite)(p.43).
Both the parliamentary and presidential system has its own virtues and vices and it explain why there are different countries supporting different system based on their situation and their historical background and real needs. However, they do not have absolute virtues and vices, there are only comparatively advantages.
The first virtue of the parliamentary system is the enforceability of its promises to their supporters and citizens. The parliamentary government has a structural advantage hence it could pass its decision more quickly. As mentioned above, the executive cabinet was chosen within the parliament and it is usually dominated by a majority party. Hence, whenever the government proposes some new policies, the legislators which most of them are in the same party or same line with the government will support and vote for the policies, the policies proposed by the parliamentary government would have a much higher chance and less resistance to be executed. (cite?)
However, the parliamentary system has a vice which is also because of its structure. Since the government is elected and chosen by the parliament, the power of parliament is strong enough to turn over the government. “The parliamentary system offers no job security” (cite). The chief executive will lose his position if the policies he proposed is not favored by the legislators, hence, the policies made by the parliamentary government would be more conservative if there is not an absolute majority party.
Also, the quality of the policies does not have promise since they are less challenged and discussed by the legislators. The fast pace of making decision cannot ensure the quality of the decisions made.
On the other hand, the presidential system has also got its own virtues and vices. The virtue of the presidential system is that there is separation of powers and hence the legislative branch would be able to check the power and the acts by the executive branch. Hence, there will be less chance for the executive branch to carry out policies which do not get public consensus and high popularity. The legislative branch can act as a ‘defendant’ of the public when the government exercises unreasonable policies. The discussion and challenges from the legislature would also bring more opinion and thoughts to the government and higher quality and more rounded policies can be made.
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Secondly, the presidential system ensure the stability of the executive branch since the two branches are separated and independent to each other, hence, the legislature cannot dissolve the cabinet as in the parliamentary system. Both the legislators and president have fixed term and this encourages them to plan for longer terms of policies since there is certainty.
However, there are also vices for the presidential system which is because of its characteristics of having check and balance. The check and balance can achieve better policies; on the other hand, it takes much more time to pass. Since the challenges and discussion in the legislature usually takes a long time. Moreover, since there are different elections for electing the legislators and the cabinet, there may not be a party able to control both branches. Hence, it will be difficult for policies to be passed in the legislature if there are not enough ‘allies’. This also hindered the development of the country to a certain extent which the discussion will slow down the pass of some urgent policies.
The virtues and vices of both of the political systems are not absolute and they may change over different time and different situation.
Under the globalization process and the influence of countries among each other, there are now new democracies emerging in the world politics and they often face the dilemma of choosing a right political system. The parliamentary system will be more suitable for the new democracies because of the following points.
Firstly, the newly developed democratic countries would usually have a common characteristic which there would be a variety of interests in the public. For example, there may be a lot of different clans or races, different opinions over how should the government implement its economic and public policies. The parliamentary system would be more suitable in this situation since there will be more voices able to speak for their own interest in the parliament and also the government which is elected from the parliament. The members in the parliament who share the executive power may have different backgrounds and hence would be able to reflect their supporter’s opinion. The prime minister would not be able to bias for his own interest since he will be put off if he does not content the legislature especially when there is not a dominant party. More different voices can appear in the political system in parliamentary system.
Secondly, the executive branch in the parliamentary system is elected and chosen by the legislators and they gain certain extent of support from the legislators, in the new democratic countries, the prime minister and the legislators may have promised the voters and supports a lot in order to gain their support and also to strengthen the newly developed countries. Through the parliamentary system and its characteristics, the promises made by the politicians in the campaign can be easier realized since the policies proposed by the prime minister will get support from the legislators who have certain extent of consensus with the government. The system can also ensure the prime minister to carry out his promises since the parliament was given enough power to dissolve the cabinet; hence the prime minister will act according to his promise or in the legislator’s favor in order to gain support.
Moreover, the new democratic countries are usually underdeveloped or developing countries like countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. These countries, other than developing a new democratic society in their land, also have to develop their economic and diplomatic strength in order to occupy a place in today’s world. Under these circumstances, these countries need a strong and efficient government to lead the people and also the country to catch up the developed countries in the world. In terms of efficiency, the parliamentary system will be much better than the presidential system. The law making and policy making process would be much smoother and shorter in time since there are much larger consensus between the legislative branch and the executive cabinet than that in the presidential system, which has to go through a long period of debate and challenges. Now in the parliamentary system, the good relationship between the two branches enable the government to pass some urgent policies which may be crucial for the country’s development and can be more flexible in policy and law making in order to cope with this fast-changing world.
Lastly a small but practical point, the parliamentary system requires fewer resources in holding elections. As mentioned above, the new democratic countries are usually developing countries which are limited in money and other resources like professionals for conducting and monitoring the elections. There is usually only one election for electing the parliamentary members and hence the members would form a government. It requires fewer resources when compared with the presidential system which usually requires two elections for electing the legislative and executive branch respectively. The resources saved can be used for developing the country in other aspects and they are important for a developing country.
The parliamentary suits the new democracies more in a general situation like in the situation mentioned above. However, different countries have their own situation and other factors affecting which political system is better for themselves, like the historical background and the existence of monarchy and the influence of the major political
In 1960s, Africa’s futures looked bright, especia
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Monday that the countries of the BRIC group and South Africa must have a unique strategy at the next G20 meeting.
Lula said in his weekly radio show that in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) meetings in Brasilia last week, the five countries defined a common strategy for the next G20 meeting in Canada, which is to take place in June.
According to Lula, at the G20, the BRIC and IBSA countries intend to discuss their participation in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as financing and credit mechanisms.
“If you arrive at a meeting with a common intent, you are halfway done convincing other countries such as France, Argentina and Mexico to get on our side. I think there is a good chance for us to make a great advance for Brazil in the international area,” he said.
Lula considered last week’s BRIC and IBSA meetings “an extraordinary occurrence” for all countries involved, and stressed the importance of diversifying Brazil’s trade partners.
“The more partners you have, the more spread out you are, selling and buying, the less dependency and more chances you have to emerge well from the crisis, as we did,” he said.
Lula will travel to Russia next month with a group of businessmen in order to boost the countries’ trade.
1. Where do they come from and what are the Brics?
In demographic terms, BRIC holds the world’s two most populated countries and
another two with considerable populations. China alone holds a fifth of the world’s
population, and is closely followed by India (17.5%) and, by a larger gap Brazil (2.9%) and Russia (2.2%). Despite their large territories – Russia’s 17 million km2, India’s 3.2 million km2, China’s 9.3 million km2 and Brazil’s 8.5 million km2 -, the Brics differ from each other in terms of natural resources, level of industrialization and impact on the global economy. It is important to point out these differences, as definition as a bloc might lead to wrongful assumptions about the four countries’ individual current and future roles in the global economy. In order to be accurate about each country’s actual weight in the world, we should perhaps change the acronym to CIRB (but without the glamour of the name). Let us begin with China, which is the most continuous civilization in history – not strictly in terms of political linearity but rather in terms of cultural continuity. The country has a tragic contemporary history, marked by economic decadence, political instability, military
humiliation and social regression caused by a deep degradation of the social fabric after Mao Zedong’s economic follies created a human hecatomb and a demographic “gap” of tens of millions of people.
India is the world’s second oldest “continuous” civilization – the inverted commas are
to highlight the country’s cultural and ethnic diversity. India has no cultural unity as such, and its political history only seems to make sense when we look at it as a temporary “unit” created by foreign invasions, specifically by the Mughal Empire, followed by the domination of an English trading company which was then converted into British supremacy over several peoples who were very different to each other. Modern India is an invention of the British Empire.
Russia is also ancient, with cultural traditions that have made it into a cultural unit
since the Middle Ages, when barbarian migrations led to the creation of a proto-homogenousSlavic proto-nation. This took place when Peter the Great subjugated feudal authority and consolidated his power over an undefined territory, drawn together under an insipient State based on imperial absolutism. This State expanded between the 18th and the 20th centuries, when it reached the height of its territorial size and power under the rule of the Soviet Czars.
The Soviet Empire was a paradox in Russia’s trajectory. Despite achieving the national security it had always aspired to, it also created an irrational economic system that ended up causing the State’s structural crisis and thunderous downfall.
Finally there is Brazil, a typical colonial creation, with the slow implementation of a
successful economy contrasting with a more precocious State building. Brazil’s unified State came before the consolidation of an integrated economy. The State was the inducer of an industrial economy, which is quite modern compared with other peripheral countries. Brazil is happy with its geographical division and regional relations. This context of regional peace – at least since the end of the Paraguayan War (1865-1870) – and of a lack of real external threats are defining factors behind Brazil’s geopolitical singularity and should be considered as a positive asset for regional and international inclusion.
The Brics’ itinerary over the past two centuries has been uneven and at times
divergent. Reciprocal relations over the last half-century have been marginal, with the possible exception of the former Soviet Union (USSR) and China during the early
implementation of socialism in the latter. Although the path of the Brics’ interaction with the global economy has been erratic, there has been some convergence over the past two decades complemented by incremental reciprocal integration.
The Brics’ individual participation in global capital, trade, investment and technology
flows retreated over the two centuries between the First Industrial Revolution and the eighth decade of the 20th century. As of the 1980’s, the four countries resumed a more intense interaction with the global economy. This retreat was born both by the Brics’ own decisions – socialist revolutions in Russia and China, the adoption of state planning in India – and was involuntary, as in the case of Brazil where crises prompted nationalizing introversion (the 1929 crisis and the depression of the 1930’s as stimuli for national industrialization).
During the construction of a post-Second World War world economic order, both the
USSR and China excluded themselves from the global capitalist system’s institutions – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Brazil and India adhered to these bodies in a reluctant and marginal manner. Although Brazil has been active in these bodies of capitalist interdependence, its participation has been more as a client than as an important party in decision-making processes, which until a short while ago were far beyond its capabilities. More than any other BRIC member, Brazil has kept a market structure and an economic management model in line with capitalism’s formal pattern of economic organization. India, the other BRIC member that remained capitalist during the Cold War, was much more nationalizing, bureaucratic and backward than Brazil. India’s recent modernizing boost has largely come from its economic Diaspora in the US rather than from internal transformations (but there has been liberalization under Manmohan Singh). China was an economic disaster. This is not only due to decadence during the Civil War and the Japanese invasion, but also due to the plans of the Maoist Era (the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution). Suffice to say that in gross terms, between the end of the 18th century and the 1960’s, China’s GDP fell from nearly one third of the world’s GDP to less than 5%, and only managed to recover in the 2000’s. Regarding Russia, in addition to its reduction after the collapse of the USSR, statistics from the Soviet Era are not reliable enough to establish the development of its performance in the 20th century, when the country
underwent huge material and human disasters. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) always overestimated the industrial power and technological capacity of this enormous Potemkin village, which lived an institutionalized lie over seven decades.
The reincorporation of the Brics’ into the mainstream global economy as of the eighth decade of the 20th century happened differently for each member. Although Brazil was never excluded from the global economy as such, until the mid-80’s almost 95% of domestic supply came from local industry, as a result of strong state protectionism. India took state capitalism even further, which, along with its extensive planning, was responsible for decades of reduced growth and low levels of modernization. It was China, in fact, which sparked the big transformation in the global division of labor by redrawing the global direct investment map via Deng Xiao-Ping’s reforms. Russia reconverted to Mafia-style capitalism in the 1990’s and
became more of an energy raw-material supplier than an active player in the global economy.
Brazil has become a major supplier of food and mineral commodities; India has consolidated its presence in the information technology sector; and industrial China has become the leading manufacturer of mass consumer products, especially electronic goods. Everyone has benefitted from the Ricardian advantages, with a special emphasis on labor in China’s case, technology in India’s and natural resources in Brazil and Russia’s.
And where are the Brics heading over the coming decades? Certainly not to the same destination, even though their trajectories have a common thread of growing and unavoidable adhesion to the global economy. According to a study by Goldman Sachs, this G4 group’s joint GDP will exceed the G7’s current GDP by 2035, and China’s will exceed everyone, individually, by 2040. The factors behind this performance are very diverse: a probable technological “explosion” in China; the continuity of Russia’s extraction activities; and huge competitiveness in Brazilian agriculture and in Indian internet services and information technology – the latter of which is already taking place. Although the Brics’ joint atomic mass might overtake G7, in per capita terms their well-being and productivity indicators will remain below the developed countries’.
2. What is the Brics relationship with the global economy?
Economic transformation is the result of a combination of structural and politically
based factors. Russia and China sunk in the destructive chaos of their socialist economies through the charismatic force of their original leaders. Despite being efficient when it came to party organization, these leaders – Lenin and Mao – were unable to grasp the way in which a modern market economy works. In Russia’s case, the transition to capitalism has remained erratic, whilst China has seen a combination of political authoritarianism and firm guidance towards a market economy. China is unique in world history in terms of its sustained growth,
with structural transformations that have an enormous social impact. In the case of Brazil and India, transformations have been due less to a directed “return to the market” or “revolutions from above” than to the “deep forces” of their semi capitalist
regimes, whose creative energy was released by economic opening and trade
liberalization. Brazil’s central problem was to break with self-feeding inflation and the
pernicious effects of exchange rate pressures. This process was conducted in full, despite the financial turbulence that threatened an adjustment between the second half of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. India, meanwhile, had to lift itself from a Mesozoic state of planned economy and over-zealous protectionism. Although it faced some delays, this process was facilitated by a high-quality economic Diaspora in the main developed economies – a phenomenon that also took place in Chinese history, but with different characteristics. Strictly speaking, China seems to have reproduced – at a higher adaptation pace and with the huge ambition of rapidly recovering from the lost decades of crippling socialism – the Japanese experience of the Meiji Revolution. It has sent its offspring to learn from the scientific and technological leaders of advanced capitalism. Above all, China has focused on the Japanese post WWII miracle, in which the country copied and adapted Western knowhow with extreme care and quality, in order to make the same products with its own designs and brands. China is the only emerging nation among all the Brics that seems destined to convert itself into a dominant economy, as well as a technological and military power.
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However, the country is still very far from offering its citizens – many of whom are still subjects of an authoritarian regime – the level of individual well-being enjoyed by the populations in advanced capitalist countries. Russia has lost territories with important natural and human resources and therefore does not seem close to recovering the political and strategic relevance enjoyed during the height of its geopolitical expansion at the end of the 1970s. Despite owning a formidable
nuclear arsenal and the capacity for some military projection, the country is in no condition to challenge the two global economic giants of the mid-21st century. Russia’s resources are finite and its demography is declining, albeit having a high quality human force. India, for its part, is apt to master, with competence, the electronic services it already offers with expertise. It will, however, have to absorb into the market economy hundreds of millions of rural workers stagnating in an ancestral economy. Brazil has almost a generation ahead of it to benefit from a demographic bonus, namely the best possible relationship between the economically active and dependent strata of people. This opportunity will probably be missed, largely because of the low levels of technical qualification and education
among the population, which will reduce productivity gains. These shortcomings should not prevent the Brics from gaining greater relevance, which they will through their heavy demographic weight and growing consumer market, with the possible exception of Russia. But they will be unable to reach the levels of technological
excellence of nearly all of the countries of the advanced capitalist world. Once again, the exception should be China, which will reproduce Taiwan and South Korea’s technological performance with surprising rapidity.
In the case of liberalizing capital movements and trade policy, Bric approaches tend to vary, although tending towards the adoption of a pattern more propitious to those countries’ international economic integration. This is in contrast to the restrictive policies adopted by all of these countries less than a generation ago. The most important ruptures took place, obviously, with the two socialist giants, as in contrast Brazil and India were on the edges of a capitalism characterized by an overwhelming state presence. These latter two countries were founding members of GATT and were there at the very start of the Bretton Woods institutions, without having to necessarily take on their prescriptions for economic policy. China and Russia joined the IMF and IRBD as soon as they overcame ideological restrictions to these symbols of the capitalist world, but the process was more complicated in
the trade sphere. It took 14 years for China to be admitted to GATT, something that took place only just before the Doha Round (2001) began. It still maintained some practices at odds with normal trading relations. Russia, while politically accepted into the G7 and fully recognized as a market economy since the Kananaskis (2002) G7 summit, has been unable to meet the demands required to be accepted into the multilateral trading system. Neither does it appear close to entrance into the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Its recent resumption of a muscular foreign policy could push it even further from these organizations. Over the decades, Brazil and India have maintained the typical pattern of “developmentalist” policy prescribed by Keynesian economists like Raul Prebisch and Gunnar Myrdal. This meant a lot of monetary profligacy, exchange restrictions, trade protectionism, and discriminatory measures against foreign investments. These policies began to change at the end of the 1980s and the start of the 1990s. The countries still have a defensive trade policy in the industrial area but, thanks to information and communications technologies, India has opened up its service sector, while Brazil has proved more hands-on in combating farm subsidies and protectionism (which should include Brazil’s G20 allies China and India).
The monetary, trade and foreign investments policies of the Brics are as varied as their forms of global insertion, but the results are reflected in current accounts. Brazil came out of a quite fragile situation between the second half of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s – which prompted it to seek preventive financing through three agreements with the IMF (1998, 2001 and 2002) – into a relatively comfortable international position of foreign reserves higher than foreign debt. With its huge trade surpluses, China is on the way to further record currency reserves, and should remain as a dynamic exporter in the foreseeable future. Russia’s trade surpluses are either growing or comfortable, but its structural position is fragile due to its dependency on oil and gas. India’s deficits, despite rising, are manageable in
relation to its also growing economy. All those scenarios should suffer the impact of the international financial crisis started in the U.S., but emerging economies are expected to maintain a higher rate of growth than those of OECD group.
3. What will be Brics’ future impact on the global economy?
The justification for the Bric acronym, according to its original proponent, is the
extent to which these economies have an impact on the global economy, as well as their capacity to shape the future of other developing nations. Barring Brazil, with very modest growth rates over the last years, the three other Brics have been gaining weight and importance globally and within sectors. In theory, in a few years the Brics will represent a fifth of the global economy and in two decades will overtake the G7. This aggregation of individual volume might make sense in this type of intellectual exercise, in which arithmetic seems to prevail over politics. However,
it is unlikely to indicate global economic development trends, as these are caused by
technological transformation and capital, scientific and strategic information flows – as shown by the history of capitalism. In fact, given their demographic importance and the growing dissemination of technology and direct investment, we could say that developing countries’ share in global goods and services exports and GDP will certainly rise above current levels. This is an elementary conclusion that adds nothing to the other aspects – especially institutional and political – that interact with the structural forces that shape the global system. Basically, despite the Bric’s decisive economic impact, this feature by itself says nothing about the other
factors behind a complex relationship that goes beyond GDP and exports, and into reciprocal interdependency – not between the Brics but between each of them and their various economic partners. From this point of view, the Brics group do not have an economic existence per se and is purely a creation of the “economic spirit”.
Despite arguments about the decoupling of the main emerging economies from the G7 and other developed nations’ economic cycles, the truth is that the dominant economies’ impact on Bric is more decisive than normally admitted. It is not only about consumer markets and direct investment sources. The global economy is not just an economic space for the exchange of goods and services, where each nation can have greater or lesser “physical” interaction. It is, essentially, an arena for the exchange of ideas, in which the intellectual domination of the so-called developed Western world looks set to remain throughout the foreseeable future.
When we look at the overall picture for the global economy, we reach an inevitable
conclusion: the same forces that have transformed the world since the 16th century are still shaping the contemporary world. These forces include not only the flow of goods and services, but forms of economic organization and above all, the production of ideas and concepts to support those physical flows. Therefore, it is inconceivable to consider that developing or emerging nations could be independent from the core of the global economy.
The path and economic destination of the Brics and other emerging economies cannot be different from those followed by developed nations. The latter set the basic parameters on which the economy is based. However, this dynamic process is not exclusive to a specific center, but shared by several centers producing and spreading ideas and practical knowledge. The apparently novel concept of Bric is a trouvaille that has occupied journalists’ minds and instigated the imagination of academics in their search for new ideas. This concept seems to induce those concerned with the old hegemony to seek a rupture with and the replacement of an “old system”. It is historically rare to have peaceful attempts to change the
balance of world power, as the beneficiaries of the status quo tend to resist the contesters’ demands for a new space in the old order. If these expectations are not met, the new contestants could opt for changing this order by their own initiative – hopefully through peaceful ways, but if necessary, they will try through violence.
Once the fascist contesters of the inter-war period were contained, defeated and
radically transformed, the geopolitics of world power began, as of 1947, to be dominated by Soviet expansionism without direct confrontations with the US. Conflicts took place often via proxies, with each side advancing and retreating in peripheral arenas where the crucial aspects of the great game were being played. This “Third World War” ended without the conservative hegemon winning a victory; the defeat of the economically weaker side was actually brought about by the implosion of a senile socialism that was incapable of competing in terms of
productive efficiency. After the USSR’s spectacular demise and in a moment in which the US emerged as the only superpower, the world seems to be moving towards a transition. This new stage sees the US’ decline and China’s ascendance, the reaffirming of Russia’s strength or the emergence of new players (India, Brazil, the European Union), which could redistribute the cards in new strategic scenarios.
Whatever the future of global geopolitics in the 21st century – be it a new Cold War of a “Cold Peace” – it has nothing to do with being a member of a group invented by an economist, even though there might be conflicts generated by some of these members’ candidacy as emerging global powers. The Bric’s situation is accidental and fortuitous, whereas being a global emerging economy is a structural condition that was acquired by a long and slow process of productive and technological qualifications that will naturally convert into military and political power.
Bric’s two former socialists have authoritarian characteristics that represent a legacy
of centuries of totalitarian states. The other two members have had democratic trajectories – with faults in terms of functioning and social justice – and are the market economies closest to capitalist organization patterns. Of all the members, Brazil has the most advanced capitalist structures and the most modern society. It is also the most integrated society in language. cultural, ethnic and possibly religious terms, which in principle enables a more efficient political administration – without institutional ruptures – and more favorable conditions for modernization. Although social democratization can slow growth and adaptation to new environments, it also contributes to greater cohesion around national goals. The main issues dividing the world today are no longer ideological, as they were less than three decades ago, when competing projects were trying to win peoples’ hearts and minds. Neither are they technical, as there seems to be reasonable consensus and collaboration among the world’s researchers and scientists about the challenges of medicine, physics and biology. Today’s main dilemmas are about political priorities and alternative economic measures to be chosen by heads-of-state for solving the age-old problems that afflict mankind: hunger, unemployment, health, education, security and welfare.
Experience in the recent past about these choices and attempts to impose them on
whole societies in an authoritarian manner, does not reflect well on some of the solutions proposed by radical
lly that the continent was gradually disengaging from the bondage of the colonial imperialism .On the basis of Madison’s (1995) estimates of per capital gross domestic product (GDP) for a sample of countries during the first half of the century, Africa had grown considerably more rapidly than Asia by 1950. But alas! today, Africa is the poorest continent in the world. While there has been a steady growth (economically), in several countries of South East Asia, such as Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, African states have lagged behind. This paper critically examined the factors militating against the growth of Africa. Why the continent has grown slowly? Some internal issues inhibiting the growth and development of Africa as well as external dimensions were discussed. The paper also focused on other issues and conclusion is drawn on the premise of providing plausible suggestions that will serve as a panacea to Africa’s problems.
Africa as well as the rest of the world is battling with this provocative question: Why does Africa continue to lag behind the rest of the world in terms of social and economic development? Obadare, (2003).Mathew Paris writing in Times August 2002, believes the Answer to the continent’s development problem lies in four simple words: ”swagger, Indolence, self indulgence and hot air ”he points out ”failure of leadership, the individual means that what is created or started is not maintained.
The colossal political failure of Africa was indeed due to poor leadership systems.
For anyone who knows the beauty and value of history, Africa in the 1950s started on a good footing. After 1960 particularly when majority of the countries in the continent gained political freedom, the potential of government were not responsive to the people’s needs, aspirations and wishes. The dream were shattered due to bad leadership, corruption, wars, poverty and eventually, economic underdevelopment.
AFRICA IN PERSPECTIVE
The place of Africa in the global community is defined by the belief that the continent is an indispensable resources base, which has served all humanity for many centuries, (Olasode, 1994:13). He argued that, “these resources can be broken down into the following sub-marginal headings, such as:
The rich complex of minerals oil and gas deposits, it provide the flora and fauna, and it unexploited natural habitat which provide the basis for mining, agriculture, tourism and industrial development.
The ecological hung provided by the continent rain forests, and the minimal presence of emissions and effluents that are armful to the environments. These, which are beneficial to all mankind.
The pole ontological and the archeological sites containing evidences of the evolution of the earth, life and the human species, and
The richness of Africa’s culture and its contribution to the variety of the cultures of the global community.”
The first of component is the one with which the world is most familiar. The second component is a new development, as humanity came to understand the critical importance of environmental matters. The third component is also coming into its own, as a matter of concern not only to a narrow field of science or of interest only to museums and their curators. The fourth component shows the creativity of African people, which in many important ways remains underexploited.
Africa has a very important role to play with regard to the critical issue of protecting the environment. African resources include rainforests, the virtually carbon dioxide free atmosphere above the continent and the minimal presence of toxic deposits in the rivers and soils that interact with the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean and Red Seas. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development will contain a plan of action for nurturing these resources and using them for the development of the continent while, at the same time preserving them for all humanity.
It is imperative to not that, unless the communities in the vicinity of the tropical forests are given alternative means of earning a living, they will continue to cooperate in the destruction of the forests. As the preservation of these environmental assets is in the interests of humanity, it is obvious that Africa be placed on a development path that does not put them in danger.
The advancement of science and modern technology also recognises Africa as the cradle of humankind. As part of the process of rejuvenating the identity and self-confidence of the peoples of Africa, it is necessary that this contribution to human existence be understood and valued first by Africans themselves then others will. Africa’s position in the world, as the birthplace of humanity should be cherished by the whole world as the origin of all its peoples. Accordingly, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development must preserve, protect and promote this common heritage and use it to build a universal understanding to end the underdevelopment and marginalisation of the continent.
It is also a known fact that Africa has a major role to play in maintaining the strong link between human beings in the world. Science and Technological developments tend to explain the role of human beings as a factor of production, competing for their place in the production process with their contemporary. The natural flora and fauna, and the diverse animal species unique to Africa also offer an opportunity for humanity to maintain its link with natural environment.
Africa as a continent has made a significant contribution to world culture through literature, music, visual arts and other cultural forms, but its real potential remains untapped because of its limited integration into the global economy. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development will enable the continent to increase its contribution to science, culture and technology. In this new millennium, when humanity is searching for a new way in which to build a better world, it is critical that we bring to bear the combination of these qualities and the forces of human will to place the continent on a pedestal of equal partnership in advancing human civilisation.
The above components shows that the continent is naturally endowed, but the resources are either underdeveloped or underexploited. Ehiogu,(1998:66),posited that “the impoverishment of the African continent was accentuated primarily by the evil designed legacies of the European colonialism, the cold war, the workings of the international economic systems, and the inadequacies of ,and shortcoming in the policies pursued by many countries in the post independent era.
In his paper titled “Africa and Globalization Process”, Gambari, (2001:2), asserted that, Africa’s inability to harness the processes of globalization and the endemic problems of individual African government to channel dynamic micro and macro economic policies, as well as democratic failure, are more of a causal factors of Africa’s underdevelopment.
Efretuei, (2006:1), observed that the African continent has witnessed many tragic historical peculiarities starting from the advent of colonialism up to the present day. From the attainment of independence in the early 1960s, most African nations inherited colonial political and socioeconomic institutional legacies through which national development processes were pursued. In the post- colonial period, these institutions have been used by the emergent African elites not only to subvert development efforts, but also had become deeply subservient to the external economic shocks, dependent and vulnerable to foreign interferences. Essentially they served the political needs of both colonial powers and the emergent African elites. As a consequence debate and schisms began to develop on what African development perspective should be and imply, as the problems of capacity both human and financial erupted. The continent increasingly faced debilitating and severe economic depression, perpetual political crises, social fragmentation and patchy policy environment in almost all the facets of life.
Rather than transforming the continent to greater heights, Africa was characterized by wars, poverty, diseases, corruption and the emergent of dictatorships. In the mid 1980s, the continent was entangled in foreign debts. These incidences have essentially become the scourge of the continent as the pattern continued well into the late 1990s.The nature of these incidences created huge capacity constraints resulting in multiple apathies to development on the continent. It became obvious that development policies of the continent had run into paradigmatic crises and rendered attempts at development problematic. As a result of the continued development dilemma and the adoption of patchy policy models, the continent began to face marginalization and isolation in the emerging global political and economic systems.
In addition to the above, the pain of the continent is aggravated by the structure of African economy of dependency. Onzelor, (1999:13), explained that Africa produces commodities it does not need and depend on others for the production of its own needs. Kurfi (1998:34), argued that African economy of dependency has necessitate a “dwindling resources base for the whole continent.” Added to this, is the huge debts and debt servicing, which all cost negatively on the development of numerous African countries.
What are, then, the impacts of the above underdevelopment levels to the continent? The answer to this question cannot be far fetched. Clearly Africa is a home of 54 countries. The continent has 80% of the world’s HIV/AIDS population and half of the population of the continent earns less than one US Dollar ($ 1) per day. Africa also constitutes only 10% of the world’s population yet processes less than 25% of the world population of refugees and internally displaced people. Resources meant for socio-economic development had to be expanded on feeding and catering for millions of Africans.
According to the UNDP report, most of the countries in Africa lacked the basic fundamentals to sustain future growth rates required by the United Nation Development Programmes (UNDP 1994:11). The only solution, as perceived by some scholars, is the integration of the continent. Ekundare, (2003:63), argued that, integration as perceived, will focus on the approach of development through collective self-reliance and incorporation into the international economic system. However, such integration needs to look at whether it will bring about an increased development or not. This integration, if pursued and achieved, will record a resounding progress in the areas of common needs like health, education,water,roads and telecommunication and a host of others. This will among other things, bring about accelerated development that would allow the continent to have a say in the world stage through her members, even if on matters less important.
Africa’s development has always been less than optimal, causing it to lag behind the rest of the world. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was created to deal with the continent’s development woes and remedy the situation. Despite its rich natural resources, Africa is steeped in poverty. NEPAD is a broad-based initiative and a united call by African leaders to eradicate poverty and promote Africa’s sustainable development while getting it to shrug off its underdeveloped status and exclusion from the rest of the globalised world. The NEPAD initiative seeks to uplift the continent and restore pride in Africa as it embarks on the process of sustainable growth and development.
The NEPAD framework emphasizes pooling resources to enhance regional development and economic integration in Africa, as well as building capacity. Infrastructural development programmes and poverty alleviation projects feature prominently in the process. It seeks a relationship between Africa and members of the international community. It appeals to African states to adhere to ‘good governance, democracy and human rights’, and impels them to prevent and resolve situations of conflict and instability and to create conditions conducive to ‘investment, growth and development in critical sectors’ (Abraham, 2004).
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At the end of the cold war, development initiatives increasingly received international attention. In order to not remain passive, homegrown initiatives to foster development began to evolve, given the persistent development difficulties that have immersed the continent, (Efretuei, 2006:2). The result of this homegrown initiative led to the emergence of NEPAD.
THE CAUSES OF SLOW AFRICAN GROWTH
The debate on the causes of slow African growth has offered many different explanations. Perhaps, the greatest weakness in these explanations is the striking lack of precision with which the reasons for the slow growth of African development were expressed. To anyone who knows the history of Africa, why the continent has grow slowly, can be best understood from multidimensional explanation.
PROBLEMS OF ECONOMIC POLICIES IN AFRICA
Until recently it has been largely accepted that the main causes of Africa’s slow growth were paternal. During the 1980’s the world bank, the international monetary fund and the bilateral donors came to identify exchange rate and trade policies as the primary causes of slow growth in Africa. On the bases of Hykin (1997). Economic strategies and suffering in sub-Saharan Africa is overwhelmingly due to economic policies. These policies have led to pervasive government ownership or control of economic institution, private initiative to produce and create wealth in too many cause have been denied by government intervention programmes.
The US Agency for international Development (AID) pronounces four propound effects slowed economic policies in Africa as;
First, they discovered production, reduced new private savings and investment and channeled whatever investment that did take place into areas which were relatively unproductive. Second, they shifted income from low income group (mostly farmers) to upper income group (politicians, government employees and other workers in the formal industry and service centers). Thirdly, they led to stagnation in employment. Fourthly, these policies led to endangered corruption and moral decay.
Tariffs and trade restrictions has also been higher in Africa elsewhere, attention its economic development in a way. The crisis was due to deteriorating and volatile terms of trade, and as table 2 shows, term of trade has indeed been more volatile for Africans than other less developed countries.
Sachs and his co-authors (2005) have attributed slow growth of Africa to “the curse of the tropics”. Africa’s adverse climate cause poor health and so reduced life expectancy below that in other regions which put Africa at disadvantage in development. The adverse climate also leads to leached soil and unreliable rainfall, which constrains Africa’s agriculture.
Weak economic growth helps to explain a lower serving rate and higher proportion of flight capital to Asia compared to the less developed nation of Asia and Africa. Richer countries tend to their population growth rate drop off, so the poverty of Africa has helped to keep it birth rates high, even as compared to the world’s other less developed countries.
LESS DEMOCRACY AND MORE BEURECRATIC
African governments have typically been less democratic than their Asian and Latin American counterparts. The Linconian concept of democracy built on the principles of representation and active participation has been underscored in process of democratic governance in Africa. Indeed, democracy is all about people, their collective will, interests and aspiration. Modern democracy thrives on the principle of popular participation through representation (Agbaje, 1999).
Democracy presupposes popular sovereignty of the people. It is a pattern of governance whereby the collective interest of the people is of ultimate essence
J.J. Rousseau (1712-1778) in his social contract theory refers to the Civic covenant whereby the people as a collectivity surrendered their rights to “General will”. To him, the actions of government must of necessity, be in accordance with “General Will” or what is the same thing, the ‘public interest’ (Enemilo, 1999: 73-74) in effect, the underlying purpose and justification of governance is service delivery, guarantee of rule of low, protection of the right of the citizens are provision of greater happiness among the greater number of the public. This is not the case in most African countries.
On the contrary, political leaders in Africa have use their positions to enrich themselves, leaving ineffective institutions and infrastructure that are the catalysts of change and development (Power supply, Health, Education, Transportation, Housing and Telecommunication). As a result, Africa is faced with problems of massive poverty and untold misery in the continent. The commonest trend has been, as Dike (2009) put it, in the case of Nigeria;â€¦’ case of voting by proxy, de-listing of authentic delegate, abuse of party regulations and outright rigging, rampant decamping and political assassinations and many other anomalies that threatens the integrity of the system. Despite poor performances of the political leaders in most African countries, they filled the public with impressive figures of their achievements that contradicts the reality on the ground. For example, Governor Ameachi (2009) of Rivers state in Nigeria admitted that the state received #569,994,113,359.47 from the Federal Government in two years. The breakdown indicated that the state received #502,063,163,390.2 from the federal account, internal generated revenue #61, 393, 400, 731, 78, Paris club refund amount to$63,793,867.68. All the monies received do not tally with the reality on the ground.
President Obama in Ghana parliament challenged the African leaders that “in the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the keys to success. Strong parliament, hardworking police force, independent judiciary and civil society. These are the things that give life to democracy. Africans strong men and strong institutions to actualized the dream continent. Africans future is in the hands of Africans. He further challenged African leaders, that, from south-Korea to Singapore, history that countries strives only when they invest in people and infrastructures. These infrastructures promote multiple experts, develop skills workforce, and enhance small and medium businesses that create job opportunities to people. In summary, the US president observed that. That 21st century would be shaped by not what happened in Moscow or Washington but by what happen in Africa as well. Disease conflict and corruption have ravaged parts of African economy and its development. Development depends on governance. That is, the basic ingredients that is missing for much too long in Africa. Finally, mutual relationship is the foundation of democracy. African leaders should therefore, focus on four (4) things that are critical to development of the continent; democracy opportunity, health and peaceful resolution of conflicts.
THE COLONIAL HERITAGE
Another factor that may hinder the growth prospects is its colonial heritage. Africa has much smaller countries in terms of population than other regions in the world. To Gerald and James (2005) sub Sahara Africa has a population of about half of that of India, divided into 48 states. These many states combined with low level of income, makes Africa’s national economy radically smaller than those of other regions. Very small state might be economically disadvantaged for several reasons. If government has some fixed cost, either in its administration or as service provider, then it might be hard for a small state to at minimum cost, moreover, the society may forfeit much more expensive scale economies if it combine small scale with isolation. Some domestic market may be too small even for the minimum efficient scale of production of single producer, all domestic market taken alone will less competitive than in larger economies. Colher and Dollar (1999) are of the view that, small economies are also perceived by investors as significantly more risky. Finally, they may have a slower rate of technological innovation.
In addition, Kremer (1999) argues, the incidence of discoveries may be broadly proportional to the population, so that if discoveries con not readily spread in the society, low population societies will have less innovation. Must African government in the post colonial period, were not democratic. The median African government during the 1970’s to 1980’s close to autocracy. African states witnessed several military coups de tats. As the struggle for political leadership become more contentions and in several cases, more violent. African states were far less democratic than the median non-African developing country (as measured by the Gastil scale of political right shown in table 2). A typical pattern was that governments were captured by the educational elites, urban resident population, with few or no agricultural interest.
POOR SERVICE DELIVERY AND PROGRAMME FAILURES
Today, particularly every discussion on Africa’s slow level of development mentioned poor service delivery and project failures. Africa experienced a paradox of poor public services despite relatively high public expenditure (Pradhan, 1996). Poor service delivery handicapped firms through unreliable transport and power, inadequate telecommunication networks and unreliable waters for example, Zimbabwe manufacturing company need to hold high level of inventories, despite high interest rates, due to unreliable delivery of input tied to poor transportation infrastructure (Fafchamps et. al., 1998). A survey of Ugandan firms found that shortage of electricity was identified as one of the most important constraint on the growth of companies. Electricity in Nigeria, despite the country’s four generating stations is nothing to write home about. Most firms are either not performing or not functioning due to unreliable power supply. A study in Nigeria found that, own generators account for the three-quarters of the capital equipment of small manufacturers (Lee and Anas, 1991).
Programme failures also contributed to slow Africa’s growth. A major World Bank report (1984) on Africa’s woes began. “â€¦the root of Africa’s problem continues to be the combination of those policies government as well as debtors’ that influence the efficiency of resource use. Those policies should remain the focus of action. Unless they are corrected, extra foreign exchange from whatever source- trade or capital inflow may bring temporary relief but will have no lasting benefits. If governments are to address, their domestic policies, more external finance could even exacerbate the problems”.
In May 1986 address to the UN on the crisis in Africa, the then Secretary of States, George Shutty observed