Bridging the Development Gap between Rich and Poor Nations

by suleimanharuna


Countries of Africa and other developing regions of

the world are bedeviled by problems which are
primarily local but which were inspired and publicized
from outside. Problems of poverty, stunted economies,
unemployment, environmental degradation, poor
educational growth, health and sanitation facilities,
and ordinary infrastructure necessary for life
including good roads, electricity, communication and
potable water. These are the same issues canvassed as
MDGs by the UN and pursued since 2000. Whether there
is considerable progress or not in the global effort
to eradicate them is a matter for conjecture.

It is an invitation to disaster for anyone to adopt
development blueprints of other social entities hook,
line and sinker. A group of human societies have never
been known to collectively agree to identify, design,
pursue and eventually succeed in implementing an
agenda unless there is a common bond, especially
social, among them. The countries of Europe, for
example, used to be one, considering geography and
linguistic similarities.  The US, however, is a
conglomeration of people from many countries who came
with myriads of ideas both evil and benign and met a
ready market as well as the perfect environment for
these ideas which included appropriate legislation,
cheap labour and less competition. These were the
factors that precipitated their development and which
Africa lacked.

A continent of over 1000 incongruous nationalities,
each at different levels of historical advancement,
Africa has had a disadvantage for centuries. For one,
the locals were not obsessed with finding ways to make
life easier to live. Another issue is the slave trade
which literally swept the turf clean of youngsters who
had the potential to think up changes and pursue them.

Besides, some ideologues posit that the west attained
development in the process of dealing with the
challenges of their natural environment. Blizzards led
to the development of sustainable indoor heating;
earthquakes, hurricanes and cyclones led to brick
houses et cetera. Africa on the other hand never had
such problems. They were therefore contented with the
mud house which had been in use since the beginning of
architecture.

Of importance also, is another issue. Europeans who
traveled to the new world, apart from having some
technical capacity had the opportunity to mix and
learn new ideas from other nationals. They also had
the freedom to travel back and forth between their
country and the US, making technology transfer easier.
Africans however never had these privileges. They were
slaves. They came with the only capacity they had –
physical strength, which was only useful for labour.
Despite their long stay in the developed US and
Europe, therefore, their capacity never improved.
These people were only allowed the use of lanterns
even where their owners enjoyed electricity. After
centuries of their sojourn, some were dumped at
Sierra-Leone and Liberia and many were left to their
own devices in their host countries, lost in identity
and without any capacity beyond the physical.

There are various arguments as to what could have
happened if the explorers never came. There could
certainly not have been slavery as we knew it;
missionaries, colonialists and probably western
education could not have had such influence in our
lives, we could probably still be living in the
‘trees’ and cannibalizing ourselves. But eventually,
one thing could have led to another and we could have
made an independent start.

The stunted growth of Africa has its roots in the
above-mentioned scenario. The decay in our
infrastructure, pervasive corruption, and failure to
achieve sustainable development are the bombs that
exploded and dispersed our best brains to developed
countries, where they have contributed their
excellence and had been respected as capable minds.
Today’s African youths have graduate degrees from the
best universities in the world. They have the
opportunity of working and internalizing the basic
processes for the achievement of development. Some of
them have the opportunity of working with their home
governments and are infusing their ideas into policy
formulation and implementation.

Informed efforts are being harnessed to bridge the
existing wide gap between the developed and developing
nations. The birth of NEPAD is an example of this
effort. Apart from utilizing Africa’s own resources to
pursue its interests, it has disrobed itself of the
toga of beggary. Concerted efforts are also on to
repackage the continent which has always been
identified with poverty, disease, squalor and
conflict, into one that is rich in all the human and
material resources needed to run the world into the
infinite future.

African’s today have knowledge, which is the weapon
required in the global marketplace to empower a
developing nation to attain economic prosperity. It is
also an equalizing factor because with knowledge its
people will compete with the best in the world and
possibly even conquer them. With knowledge, African
business brands will achieve black employment figures,
to control poverty. With knowledge it will ensure best
practices and good governance, which will in turn curb
corruption and ultimately ensure that funds meant for
public services are not diverted. With knowledge, the
gap between developed and developing nations would be
bridged.

Countries like Nigeria can stand tall and assume the
leadership of this class. Knowledge, not just
political will, is the engine that runs the whole
system. This is evident in the present reform covering
every sector of life from value reorientation, the
economy, to politics. In the communications sector
alone, over 20 million telephone lines have covered
both urban and rural areas and provided both direct
and indirect employment to over 1 million, within a
span of 7 years. With knowledge it has been possible
for Nigeria to have a near zero foreign-debt account
and still save 41 billion dollars in foreign reserves.
It is also as a result of knowledge that the banking,
oil, manufacturing and other sectors are attracting
billions of dollars in foreign direct investment from
erstwhile skeptics and today, some of their
capitalizations compare with national budgets of some
countries.

Perhaps the new Nigeria is the beacon of the rest of
Africa in bridging the development gap between them
and the developed world. I am aware that other
countries are making great strides in this regard.
That explains why the Human Development Index and the
Corruption Perception Index have recorded great
improvement on the continent this year.

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