Africa Must Walk Before She Runs: The Case for Agricultural Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa in Advance of a Global Trade
Palollo Michael Lehloenya*
ABSTRACT: This article contrasts the developmental paths followed by the countries of Southeast Asia and their counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa. The comparison highlights both the lessons sub-Saharan Africa can take from the economic progress achieved by Southeast Asia in the last fifty years and the obstacles likely to impede replication of these achievements. The paper notes the important role prioritization of smallholder rural agriculture ahead of export-oriented manufacturing played in accelerating economic growth in Southeast Asia and how a similar approach could benefit sub-Saharan Africa. However, an argument is made that barriers such as restrictions imposed by the ever-growing number of cross-border trade agreements, erratic climatic conditions and weak domestic policies will continue to hinder the repeat of Southeast Asia’s success in sub-Saharan Africa. Emphasis is also placed on the need for sub-Saharan Africa to realise that even good policies must be followed up with honest and aggressive implementation. The paper concludes that, while using the Southeast Asian model as inspiration, the policies adopted by sub-Saharan Africa must pay regard to the region’s unique circumstances and changes in the trade environment over the years by employing creative ideas. The need for state bureaucracy to be sufficiently independent, while also not too detached from the community is also emphasized. At the same time, the critical role of the state in driving transformation through provision of financial and logistical support is stressed. Lastly, sub-Saharan Africa is encouraged to conclude trade agreements that balance economic growth against the potential for harm to domestic economies.