4 Responses to How Not to Help Somalia

  1. John Higgins April 26, 2009 at 6:53 pm #

    I still insist that the best way to help not just Somalia but Africa in general is to promote business investment.

    • Rad Geek April 27, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

      Well, I’m sure it depends on what you mean by “promote business investment.” If you spell out what you mean by that, then we may perhaps agree, but as it stands, that kind of terminology is often used to represent something which has proven wholly toxic throughout the formerly colonized world.

      In the political context of international development politics, especially as it is typically applied to sub-Saharan Africa, there are lots and lots of active schemes to “promote business investment.” The problem is that these schemes are typically driven by large inter-state governmental agencies like the IMF and World Bank; in substance, they typically involved large tax-funded government-to-government loans, packaged with stipulations that the local government bring certain key legislation (notably, Intellectual Property monopolies) into line with the requirements of large business interests, that they implement bureaucratic professionalization of local government (in the name of “good government” and rooting out “corruption”), and that they channel the money into big government forced-modernization boondoggles (e.g. large-scale government infrastructure projects), incentives for large projects by a handful of large multinational corporations, and large-scale privateering commissions for government-backed monopolies on natural resource extraction, utilities, etc.

      All of which is to say that these kind of schemes “promote business investment” by means of large-scale government privilege and government-to-government transfers — when what is really needed is not that kind of political scheming, but rather for international politicos to back off and leave Somalia the hell alone, so as to allow a genuine, spontaneous forms of development to emerge. These may well involve various sorts of domestic and foreign “business investment,” but if so, they ought to be attracted to the investments by the prospects for peaceful cooperation, not by the prospects for rent-seeking and the efforts of political bodies to “promote” them.

  2. Anon73 April 27, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    Perhaps the word you’re looking for Charles is “exploitation”?

  3. John Higgins April 28, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    If there’s a government involved at any point, it’s obviously going to be a disaster. It’s a well-known fact that any dollar that is passed through the hands of an African bureaucrat is a dollar that is never seen by the needy and starving over there.

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