How Economic Globalization Hurts Africa’s Development


The impact of economic globalization could be felt in different parts of the world either positively, as in the case of developed societies or negatively, as evident in developing or third world nations – most African countries fall within this category.


Giddens (1938) defines globalization “as the intensification of the worldwide social relations which link realities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice-versa”.


The emergence of globalization could be described as the result of vibrant economic activities in deferent parts of the world. The occurrences of these phenomena in one society led to their presence in other parts of the world. Colonialism was the major tool through which advancement in communication, transportation, and information technologies was transferred from the so-called first world to the Africa continent.


The industrial revolution which took place in Europe and North America in the 19th century was reported to have spread to other parts of the world as a result of the bilateral and multilateral trade policies which linked different nations together. These industries imported raw materials from the non- or less-industrialized countries while in return they exported finished products back to the less-industrialized countries. An exemption to this rule was Japan, whose government strictly placed restrictions on the importation of goods so as to encourage the development of their local industries.


The developing countries such as Africa, Asia, Central and South America concentrated in exportation of raw materials. Taking Africa continent as concrete example, Nigeria exported various kinds of raw materials such as cocoa, rubber, palm Kennel. Ghana exported gold and uranium to the industrialized nations. Against this background, former U.S President, Bill Clinton reminds us “The only preparation for prospering in the global economy is investing in ourselves”.


The earlier economic ventures of the industrialized nations in Africa were aimed towards exploiting the continent, by this, the developed nations to simply carted away human and materials resources from their developing counterparts to aggressively increase the wealth of their countries and develop their economies, this has posed serious challenge to the African continent which finds it difficult to summon courage and move the continent forward. The result of the half-baked civilization globalization has brought to Africa has made African nations to be less technological and industrial innovative and often welcomes not local innovators.  According to a U.S academic Clarisa Long “Nations that cheat innovators fail to attract capital investment, are unsuitable partners for technology transfers, and have no savings to pass on to their citizens”. That is, the current over-dependency on importation will have a serious negative future effect on African society.


We strictly rely on what is left behind, which is the importation of foreign made goods and services. After all, the economic problem -for whom to produce- is solved when the industrialized economies such as Western European nations, Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan think of the African nations as the main consumers. In view of this, the former U.S first lady, Hillary Clinton said “We desperately need a nation and global economy in which people and not only as consumer but as citizen in which workers reassert their responsibility for themselves and the success of their companies”.  That is, a nation that largely depends on importations has no place in the global economy other than serving merely as consumer.


Inequalities in the standard of living and political instability in different countries of Africa are other challenges facing the African continent today, this is as a result of our participation in globalization; the continent has not been able to develop and function at maximum capacity. Wealth and power struggles within African leadership and followership in attempt to have and spend like the developed citizens has resulted in the adverse socio-economic and political decadence such as election rigging, corruption, looting of public treasuries, trading in illegal drugs, smugglings, robberies, prostitution engaged in by the Africans who are aggressive in pursuit of  wealth.


The issue of terrorism is another outcome of the global bilateral and multilateral arrangement known as globalization, African nations are now referred to as “failed-states” which can be manipulated by the foreign criminals as bases to attack governments and peoples of Africa. Some of the globalized resources in Africa are gold, diamonds, crude-oil, the exploration/extraction and exportation of these resources have today led to social unrest, political instabilities such as the militants’ activities in the creeks of the Niger Delta, apartheid  South Africa, genocide Rwanda, civil  war in Liberia. Also mercenary armies obtain their arms and ammunitions through bilateral and multilateral relations and use such to engage in criminal despots, massive killings, genocides, rapping, stealing and extortion of various kinds.


The impacts of free-trade has resulted in the violation of human rights in African regions as the labour unions now gain less recognition and often disallowed in many organizations. The absence of this has led to intimidation of workers, sexual harassment among others. In addition, in the views of a British ecologist, Norbert-Hodge “Free trade policies work against the interest of vast majority of producers and consumers… by systematically dismantling locally-based economies”


 African cultures, values, norms, have been swept away by the emergence of globalised economies as the people develop interest in foreign cultures at the expense those handed to us by our ancestors. This would yield nothing but legendary tardiness in our continental economics. According to U.S-born management consultant, Peter Drucker “A small country can now join an economic region and thus get the best of two worlds: cultural and political independence and economic integration”. This seems to be different in case of African nation where imported cultures have occupied principal positions instead of our indigenous cultures in the name of economic and cultural integration.


Africa nations are today battling with the challenges caused by economic globalization, the environmental hazards such as air pollution arising from the burning fossil fuels, floods, ozone depletion, and destruction of the rich rain forests. Other negative impacts include wide-spread diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), bird and swine flu to mention just a few of them.


Abubakar Jimoh

University of Abuja

[email protected]


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