TICAD specialist chides African leaders for 'dependence syndrome'

  Tokyo- Japan (PANA) -- On the eve of the 3rd Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) opening here Monday, a respected Japanese expert in the TICAD process has said the "dependence syndrome" among African leaders was, in part, to blame for the continent's frustrations with the international economic order.
Shinsuke Horiuchi, long time TICAD specialist at Japan's foreign ministry and currently special adviser to the foreign affairs minister, challenged African leaders to explore ways to develop the private sector without recourse to foreign capital, let alone donor assistance now on the decline.
Evoking the concept of "ownership" of the development process, as embraced by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Horiuchi insisted that "African leaders need to get rid of their dependency syndrome," if only to avoid foreign investors who come in with little prospects for ploughing back profits to boost growth.
Horiuchi, an outspoken Research Fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs, who is well known for challenging mainstream economic perceptions, said it might be necessary for Africa to resort to alternative strategies, even if unorthodox, to cope with a global market system much too strong for the continent's tottering economies.
At a press briefing here Saturday, he contended that for 40 years Japan avoided foreign dependency, opting rather for technological know-how, hence was able to grow.
The Japanese critic insisted it would be illusive to claim ownership of a country's development process in a context where the economy was powered by foreign investors.
"We cannot escape globalisation but if we let it sweep us off our feet into a system controlled by foreign capital, we stand little chance of surviving," Horiuchi warned.
He recalled that it was, after all, in a closed, protective market regime that most Southeast Asian and even pre-Capitalist western economies managed to nurture the strength they needed before venturing out to face open competition.
"There is this talk about Africa being marginalised in the global market system.
But the trouble lies in a market dominated by the American dollar.
Stepping into the global market means that your profits wind up at Wall Street, hence my hesitance about foreign investment," Horiuchi explained.
Elaborating further on the incongruities of the capitalist world market system, he decried what he coined a "patron-client" dynamic in which Africa, from colonial times till to-date, remains confined to primary exports with marginal earnings.
In the 60-billion dollar coffee market, the growers get five billion dollars while their western manufacturers and distributors of processed coffee get 55 billion dollars, he pointed out.
Horiuchi cited the stunning scenario in which Germany, one of the world's biggest coffee exporters (finished products) does not have a single coffee tree.
Conversely Kenya, a traditional grower, cannot export processed coffee due to the high tariff charged by western importers, thus confining the East African country to primary exports.
Horiuchi's concerns were shared by erstwhile Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob, now executive secretary of the Global Coalition for Africa (GCA), who was part of the seven-strong panel at Saturday's press briefing.
"Africa must be helped to add value to the raw material it produces, so as to make its exports more competitive at the world market," Geingob stressed, saying only then could it be said to trade on an equal footing with other market players.

28 Setembro 2003 09:41:00

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