Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Coffee, Colonialism and Capitalism; Introduction to African Crisis - Part 1

Presenting a young Sidama Intellectual’s standpoint over Africa’s economic and political crisis is a real intellectual adventure; seeing Africa through African eyes offers an extraordinary advantage in terms of accuracy, veracity and clutter elimination.

I am most pleased to present the first part of an insightful paper sent to me by the Sidama Intellectual Side Goodo, who is an acclaimed economist and a free thinker, well exposed to ideas and theoretical systems in 3 (three) continents.

After stating and commenting on key figures pertaining to the overall African economy, Mr. Goodo focalizes on the Sidama Nation’s underdevelopment which is the result of the Colonial Amhara invasions and annexation before 130 years.

As coffee consists in one of the most valuable natural resources, and the main export commodity of the occupied by alien Amhara Abyssinians Sidama Land, the expropriation of the indigenous Sidamas from their rich in coffee trees lands opened the gates of the underdevelopment, poverty and starvation. In a forthcoming article, we will publish the rest of Mr. Side Goodo’s paper.

Sidama Land - Coffee Economics, Politics and Poverty

By Side Goodo, Sidama Intellectual

Part 1. Poverty, Hunger and Underdevelopment in Africa

Over the last two centuries many countries of the world have developed at a breakneck speed. However, after half a century of decolonization, Africa still remains the darkest continent and the majority of its people still live under abject poverty.

Half of the 800 million people on the African continent live on less than US$1 per day while the mortality rate of children under five years of age is 140 per 1000. Only 58 percent of the population had access to safe water. The rate of illiteracy for people over 15 is 41 percent and there are only 18 mainline telephones per 1000 people compared with 146 for the world and 567 for developed countries (NEPAD, 2001).

Thus, in Africa, at present, poverty defined in terms of both lack of ownership of economic resources and lack of access to social and economic services which refer to the broader livelihoods is rampant. Poverty is also about lack of power. The poor is the most vulnerable and the most powerless group of society.

Among the 49 Least Developed Countries (LDC) of the world as of 2007, 33 are in Africa. These are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Democratic Republic, Djibouti, Eritrea, ‘Ethiopia’, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

The LDCs or the fourth world countries are characterized by low income, Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than US$750, low level of human resources development, and economic vulnerability. A country must achieve GNI per capital of over US$ 900 to leave the forth world. About five of these African LDCs are characterized by a very low level of economic progress measured by a very low level of GNI per capita of less than US$ 200. These are: ‘Ethiopia’, Somalia, Seira Leon, Burundi, and Guinea Bissau.

Only two countries in Africa have shown remarkable economic performances during the past 20 years and were able to graduate from the LDC category. These were Botswana which moved up the ladder in 1994 and Cape Verde Island which graduated from LDCs just in 2007.

The poverty and backwardness of Africa stands in stark contrast to the prosperity of the developed world. The continued marginalization of Africa from the globalization process and the social exclusion of the vast majority of its peoples constitute a serious threat to global stability (NEPAD, 2001). The continued influx of Africans seeking better living conditions in Europe has already caused a great alarm among the EU member states but no concrete actions have been taken by this block of wealthy nations to bring sustainable development in the African continent.

The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in 2000 are not likely to be achieved in many of the African countries because of such dismal economic performances in most of these countries. The 2015 targets for most indicators are already accepted as unachievable. Thus many of African countries are trapped in a vicious circle of underdevelopment, poverty, hunger and famine. The world has the resources and the technology to eradicate poverty in Africa and globally, but it does not have the will.

American Chronicle: Coffee, Colonialism and Capitalism; Introduction to African Crisis