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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Guest blogger: Strategizing industrial development in Africa

My guest blogger is my friend Stella Evelyne Tesha. She is active with Green Waters (http://www.green-waters.org/) and Friends of Afrika (http://friendsofafrika.ning.com/)

Give her post a good read; it’s well worth your time.

Strategizing industrial development in Africa

Developing countries in Africa have long since faced extreme poverty challenges. Yet according to available natural resources this should not be the case.

The natural resources in developing countries include minerals, ocean resources, forestry resources and people skills. Africa is very rich in resources.

Development in Tanzania as well as the rest of Africa, is crippled by lack of good strategies, disorganised governance, corruption and international policies.

The best strategy I can think of to accelerate the development process , is region by region development.

Regional by region development:

Taking an example of one of the richest regions in Tanzania, Arusha. Among other things, this is a region rich in minerals such as tanzanite, rubies, diamonds, gold, and forestry.

This is just one of the many rich regions in Tanzania, and yet the UN HDI shows that the country is one of the poorest in the world. http://hdrstats.undp.org/countries/country_fact_sheets/cty_fs_TZA.html

Why region by region development?

First of all, available resources are usually what stimulates the people skills. Therefore, in an areas such as Arusha, mining and hunting are the main existing primary skills, professional trainings can be given to improve on these.

The best strategy for region by region development, would be to establish processing industries within the regions. These industries should focus on increasing the value of the products and creating employment for the local people.

The government will benefit by getting more tax payers, and furthermore the regional administration can create enough revenue to contribute by investing in i.e local health and educational institutions.

For lake regions, creating fish processing industries, will also carve employment spaces for people in tools making, uniforms and other required stock for fishing industries. I can only suggest from experience that restaurants with special local menus will be a huge attraction both locally and internationally, if well publicised.

For agricultural regions, food processing/packaging industries will do the same.

These are the projects that are needed in developing countries, because they are sustainable and they utilise local resources.

Furthermore, regional administration is a way to upset corruption. This is by making regional administration systems accountable to the government, to enable more transparency and a detail oriented system.

Region by region development is also a ‘’bypass’’ to international policies, and will provide possibilities for locals from different regions to be more focused on product value for fair trade, locally and internationally.

It is not possible, to have a topsy turvy, happy go lucky system as it used to be in the past. Development and globalisation are now hand in hand. The economic interdependence regional and international, is there to stay. The value and price competition is going to be even more tougher, considering available subsidies from the first world. Governments from developing countries, have to be more proactive in planning and de-centralising.

I would urge the first world to keep an eye on the bigger picture and assist region by region development. Throughout history Africa has always been a big market for the first world, but with increased poverty Africa is hard hit and can’t afford to buy as much.

This has affected all of us living in Europe, production without demand is a recipe for profit loss which leads to job losses, less tax payers, more dependency on social welfare, less spending, increased stress and health hazards, higher health insurance which has to be paid by the governments, as more people loose their jobs.

By helping third world countries to develop sustainable regional industries, this will create more purchasing power among individuals , and most especially create demand for high technology tools from first world for the regional industries.

Furthermore, the situation might enable the achievement of millennium goals and lower the need for humongous grants. The available funds can then be reinvested in reducing the ecological footprint and maybe we can manage to reverse the damage we have already caused on our environment.

I believe, we all need to work together in development, we each can make a contribution even by just suggesting an idea and letting someone else work on it!

It really is a win win situation.

Stella Evelyne Tesha

“The people are the foundation for development” J.K Nyerere