property rights and economic development in africa

Forget (almost) everything else. The trouble with African economies is simply and squarely the lack of property rights protection. It still beats me why the African political elite have failed at instituting even intra-elite property rights protection. The fact that the African political elite – who also happen to be the wealthiest people on the Continent – cannot invest in their own countries has resulted in massive capital flight. The quote below says it all.

Speaking at the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in December 2003, the former British secretary of state for international development, Lynda Chalker, noted that 40 percent of the wealth created in Africa is invested outside the continent.

And this is only what gets counted. Although obviously the upper bound, recent revelations of Mubarak’s wealth (between 20 -70 billion) may be an indication of the amount of personal wealth stashed overseas by long time autocrats like oil-rich Angola’s Edwardo do Santos, Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang’ and Sudan’s Bashir, among others.

The contrast is that:

In corrupt societies in Asia, such as Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan the citizens still prosper because the corrupt elite keep their money at home. They invest in new mobile phone network, build private hospitals and tourist hotels (here).

In short, elite political instability and distrust in Africa is one of the key reasons why the region remains poorer than any other in the world.

south sudan and the challenges of self-rule

The BBC reports that at least 100 people have been killed in clashes between the South Sudan government and soldiers loyal to a renegade rebel, George Athor, in Jonglei State.

This latest clash does not come as a surprise. Most analysts predict a high likelihood of civil war in post-independence South Sudan. Conflict will most likely come from two sources: Khartoum funding local dissident groups in order to check Juba and internal ethnic rivalry over government positions and the sharing of oil wealth.

Civil war in South Sudan may prove to be deadlier than the 2 decade war against Khartoum. Civilianization of the two decade war placed guns in the hands of most able bodied young men (In the South cattle herders tend to their animals with AK’s in hand). The prospect of Khartoum supporting secessionist movements along its border with the South is not pure fantasy.

The spotlight is on the political elite in the South. Will they hammer out a power and resource sharing deal or will despotism yet again kill the independence dreams of an African nation? I can’t stop thinking that John Garang’ de Mabior died too soon.