Africa moves away from Western development model

Updated: 2012-12-14 09:35

By Andrew Moody and Zhong Nan (China Daily)

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Africa moves away from Western development model

John Dramani Mahama, president of Ghana, says China is now playing a key role in the development of Africa.

The African leader, who signed a $3-billion loan from the China Development Bank in Beijing earlier this year, insists that funding from China comes without the red tape insisted upon by Washington-based institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF.

"It makes it simpler to access these critical investments without having to go through contortions, and so in a way it is better Ghana and China have a strategic relationship. This is also of benefit to Africa, and that is the reality of the world today," he says.

Many African leaders have criticized the so-called Washington Consensus, which has led international policy since the late 1980s.

The World Bank and the IMF have imposed conditions on loans as well as demanding that African countries privatize state-owned industries and seek private-sector solutions to infrastructure development.

Meles Zenawi, the late Ethiopian prime minister, speaking to China Daily before his death in August, said this Western-led approach had failed.

"The official doctrine among the international financial institutions which in the past determined policy in Africa was that infrastructure would be taken care of by the private sector. Well, we have waited 30 years and nothing much has happened."

"When the Chinese companies came in and started building infrastructure in a big way they were filling this major gap in the development of Africa. We, in Africa, should feel very satisfied with it."

Mahama, who was re-elected president on Dec 10, insists Africa now has a choice when it seeks funds, and that his country has also agreed on facilities with Brazil as well as China.

"The international financial system is experiencing profound changes, and the fact that Africa is seeking more help from emerging powers will give developing countries more voice and common ground in the reform process."

Mahama argues that China is playing a vital role in the development of not just Ghana but other African countries.

"China has a growing economy and needs natural resources, and Africa has these natural resources but also needs money for development so it becomes a win-win for them to come together and develop closer cooperation."

He believes that Africa will take people by surprise and may prove to be one of the biggest economic success stories of the 21st century.

"In the past, Africa was only mentioned in any medium of mass communication when there were civil wars, droughts, famines where children were dying. This is the picture painted in people's minds by the media, and as a result they don't see what is changing in Africa."

(China Daily 12/14/2012 page5)