Effect of non-economic factors on development
30 January 2013, 14:11
Popularly known as the Dark Continent, Africa was the last region to gain full autonomy and independence from its bunch of colonisers.
With this lateness in achieving self-rule came the adoption of systems already built by the colonialists and attachment to certain values and traditions established by the colonialists.
Religion and systems of administration were the most emulated institutions followed by education and agricultural techniques.
All these have been altered by various countries to some degree but no country has scrapped off an entire system to replace it with their own.
It is a hard and tiresome task to carry out a whole systems change since it will involve pumping huge sums of money and resources, most of which are not readily available.
Economists always ignore the fact that non-economic factors count for a huge part of either the success or failure of a development policy.
They argue that only economic factors contribute but it has been established by one author named Michael P. Todaro that indeed non-economic factors play a major role.
These so-called non-economic factors arise from the manner in which we view the running and operation of the colonial institutions and systems.
What exactly makes up the non-economic factors?
Examples include but do not restrain to; attitude towards work, life, authority and integrity of government agencies, systems of land tenure and many more.
How good these non-economic factors are dealt with will determine the amount of success achieved from a certain policy.
Since we as African states operate in systems and institutions built by the colonialists, we often tend to ignore the responsibility invested in us by the state to execute duties in a manner that represents the will of the people.
It is natural for any being to misuse resources just because he or she is not the one who formulated, structured, developed or constructed them.
South Africa is an exception of African states since the whites who settled there in the 19th century established a niche that became a home for many generations to come and therefore the South African natives cannot completely chase away the Boers.
With this kind of situation, the white settlers were able to protect their institutions and systems to the benefit of the blacks who ever since history was written have contributed in only activism and nothing more.
The integrity of authority and other non-economic factors determine the impact of a policy.
Whenever you have a government full of secretaries and directors who lack integrity like in the Moi regime you experience a scenario where policies are drafted to favour the few elite at the expense of the poor masses.
Irregular land tenure systems have caused a lot of havoc in Africa and to date, communities still fight over land and resources that emanate from it.
This is because the non-economic factors that deal with land distribution has been ignored.
Colonialists left us with their land tenure system but the problem is that in the African setting, land is valued in a different manner from the western nations.
Therefore, you find policies on agriculture, mining and other economic activities cannot be properly executed since there is no proper agreement on land systems.
However, with the current constitution in Kenya, we are optimistic that many of these non-economic factors will be addressed in a proper manner.
This gives us hope of having development policies implemented in a better manner.
As a country, we might be moving in the right direction but is Africa moving with us?
It is risky to be an island of development surrounded by a lake of impoverished countries grappling with war, famine, diseases and other calamities.
On the other hand, it puts you at the seat of power in that particular region.
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