Third World Network Africa

The rebirth of economic planning in Africa

Friday, 1st February 2013 - No. 99 – Year 2013

Thursday 14 February 2013

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Authorship: Martin Khor.

Published by: Third World Network Africa.

Canal: Third World Network.

Type of document: news.

Date: Friday, 1st February 2013 - No. 99 - Year 2013.

Language: Spanish.

Theme: Economy and Policies.

Keywords: Economy, Alternative economy, IMF, Politics, African countries.

Countries and Regions: Africa.

Description: Finances. Economic planning, IMF.

Developing countries used for many years planning to set into motion their economies. But in the decades of 1980 and 1990 several countries suspended this practice, especially in Africa due to the influence exerted by the IMF and the World Bank. Under their structural adjustment program, planning or any other type of strategy on issues of development entailing an active role to be played by the State was considered taboo.

As a consequence, in several African countries both the economic growth and the social development lagged behind. Governments abandoned planning, refrain from participating in economy, reduced jobs, eliminated subventions and other methods of assistant to national companies and agricultural workers. The new order was that of privatizing, liberalizing imports and depend on foreign investments for growth..

For over two decades, most of the African economies suffered economic stagnation, while they continue immersed on indebtedness. The agricultural sector, which in many countries has been moving forward, weakened and several local industries were shut down or were reduced confronted to the competence of cheaper imports.

This was in contrast with South East Asian countries, which attained a bigger growth, fostered by a general development strategy, with five-year plans and sector policies for industry, agriculture, and some services.

In some sectors, especially social services, public services, infrastructure and strategic industries, the government preserved ownership or a greater participation of share capital. In others, it fostered the development of national companies with the use of subventions, credit, sales promotion and sector road maps.

In Africa there are at present a growing rebirth of development planning, while the role played by the State in the economy is strengthened, partly due to the lesson obtained in Asia.

This rebirth was the main theme of a conference I attended last week in Dakar, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, a United Nations organization linked to the Economic Commission for Africa, which have the participation of regional African leaders and ministers as well as high level officials from the economic area from around thirty countries. The all showed great interest in the rebirth of planning and a leadership role played by the State.

The new director of the Economic Commission for Africa and United Nations Joint Secretary General, Carlos Lopes, offered an amazing panorama of the ups and down of planning in this continent.

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