After reading the Jeffery Herbst and Greg Mills piece “Africa in 2020: Three Scenarios for the Future,” I found the article to be both insightful yet contradictory. In this piece, Herbst and Mills go in depth about three potential outcomes that could take place in Africa over the next fourteen years by outlining the specific policies and procedures that could take place in Africa that could lead to these three potential outcomes. Although I found the three outcomes that Herbst and Mills portray in their article to be clear, I felt that some of the necessary steps that Africa needed to take in order to reach some of the outcomes that they proposed to be unrealistic, especially within the case of the “Africa takes charge” outcome.
In the “Africa takes charge outcome” that Herbst and Mills portray, they suggest that Africa could have success by taking development and politics into its own hands and that reform taking place across Africa on the domestic, regional, and international levels could happen if Africa’s big states lead as “exemplars of success.” However, not only does Africa contain some of the poorest countries in the world, who do not have the financial or political resources to take on development by itself, but also almost all of the large countries that exist within Africa, with the exception of South Africa, have not shown any signs of leadership as they deal with their own problems. I find this to be quite contradictory because although it is true that as countries start to develop, they are better able to help themselves as well as their neighbors, I find it inherently strange that in the outcome of Africa taking charge on its responsibilities, Herbst and Mills neglect the importance of outside foreign investment and presence in Africa. Because not every country in Africa has profitable natural resources that can help spur growth domestically, regionally, and internationally, outside investment and influence should be seen as a major factor in the development of most of Africa’s countries, whether it be through other countries or NGOs. This allows for the necessary infrastructures at the domestic level of these countries to be built up enough so that societal aspects such as the presence of private sectors and a private market, as well as the diminishing of corruption and mismanagement of foreign aid can take place to allow for African countries to not have to rely on nearly as much or any foreign aid.
Looking at Herbst and Mills outcomes today, even with the development of some large African countries, particularly Nigeria, Rwanda, and Ghana, it is unrealistic for these countries to be able to promote development across the continent that would create a stable and productive Africa by 2020, largely due to acts of current terrorism that are hindering the lesser developed countries from gaining any regional or foreign investment into potential private markets that could economically stabilize the countries.
- Herbst, Jeffrey and Greg Mills. Africa in 2020: Three Scenarios for the Future.Brenthurst Discussion Papers, 2/2006.