It’s abysmal being sick during Chinese New Year.
It’s the biggest day for us chinese people and yet I’m largely confined to me bed feeling all sorry for myself.
Boyfriend J is also not here to comfort me since he’s in Asia eating too much food and making merry…
The only good thing about staying in bed sans boyfriend is that I have alot of time to read. I managed to finish reading the second book:
Yes, the title is a mouthful and somewhat intimidating but the book’s alot better than the title.
I have always had a fascination with why some countries succeed and why others don’t. Coming from Singapore, I have always believed that a country’s destiny can be changed by willpower, talent and determination. Afterall, a tiny tiny country without natural resources surrounded by hostile neighbors made it, what’s your excuse?
So African countries has always been a mystery to me – not only is it a continent collectively, it has an abundance of natural resources and manpower that many other countries don’t. Yet the situation in Africa is dire and getting worse day by day. Collier argues that while Asia’s emerging economies improved by leaps and bounds within the past 30 years, Africa’s economy has actually declined in absolute terms.
He outlines 4 traps most African countries have fallen into:
1. The conflict trap (most African countries)
2. The natural resource trap (Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Angola etc)
3. Landlocked with bad neighbors (Uganda, Malawai etc)
4. Bad governance in a small country (Zimbawe, Uganda etc)
Most of these african countries are affected by conflict and he argues that poverty create the ideal impetus for conflict. It becomes a vicious cycle where conflict leads to more poverty and in turn leading to more conflict.
Collier also makes the point that some african countries shouldn’t have been countries in the first place. For example, smaller landlocked countries should never have been made into countries in the first place, it would have been better for them to have merged with their neighbors to create a bigger market and gain access to the sea.
While I see his logic (and he’s certainly right about some countries, not just in Africa but in the middle east and central asia), his assertion brings up the question of what is a country?
Is it a shared identity? Geography? Homogeneity? A unified market?
Would these African countries choose to be countries if they knew that they would be better off joining their neighbors?
Another interesting assertion that while celebrity attention on Africa is well and good, it does little for these countries’ well being. Foreign aid often act as disincentives for governments to truly bite the bullet and be disciplined about their spending.
Bono might like us to think that we can help Africa solve its problems by buying a T shirt from Gap but Collier makes a compelling case that real progress has to come from within.