The nature continuity change global politics

Aid strategies or Trade Agreements more likely to relieve poverty in Sun-Saharan Africa?

Please a postgraduate essay. GUIDELINE FOR THE ESSAY LINE. In assessing coursework, criteria: • Relevance question • Sound ordering structuring material • Quality clarity written expression • Effective evidence • Appropriate theory • Demonstration sound understanding topic • Adequacy research analysis • Identification major themes arguments • Critical evaluation judgement • Range sources • Consistent referencing AND page numbers • Insight originality • Grammar language Please aware questions require critical analysis consideration: A] The nature continuity change global politics B] An analysis historical, politico-economic geo-political context C] Use case studies.

The development of African countries has been for decades now one of the most discussed subjects in the international arena, especially in the area of international development. There have been numerous attempts to find the proper solutions to be implemented in countries on the Black continent; however, few have been successful. In the sub-Sahara region, there is a wide predominance of failed attempts for development. This is not necessarily due to the lack of initiative but rather because of the limited means of implementing these initiatives, at the political and institutional levels.

The present research paper aims to determine whether aid strategies and trade agreements, as traditional tools for improving the social conditions in least developed countries are more efficient than development programs and projects. It is rather hard to determine a precise answer to such a question, as both aid strategies and development programs are interdependent. The present paper argues that while aid strategies are crucial for the survival of a country, they are not the only ones necessary for improving the lives of the people living in Least Developed Countries. The development programs undergone by agencies such as UNDP, the United Nations Development Program, are indeed vital for relieving poverty in Sub-Sahara region largely because they provide the sound base of a future economic, social, and political life.

Aid strategies and trade agreement

Aid strategies and trade agreement are some of the tools presented by the international community as means through which Least Developed Countries can achieve the status of developing nations

. This group of countries includes however mostly the Sub-Saharan region. In this sense, there have been extensive efforts to try to determine as many donors as possible to contribute the development attempts of countries in poverty to reach a better level of life.

As of 2008, the amounts raised for LDC was $43.8 billion

. However, as seen in current cases, this money lacked the necessary systemic background to become effective for the society.

Trade agreements as a means of development imply the special agreements made with the WTO and other international organisms and states to determine preferential taxes and quota on the international market. In this sense, “of the 49 LDCs, 32 are members of the WTO. As such, their trade policies are bound by the commitments and obligations of their terms of accession.”

Taking aside these two mechanisms, they have proved to be unsuccessful largely because of several reasons. Firstly, because of the institutional legacy they carry as a result of a crippled economic and social background, as a result of colonialism. Secondly and consequently, they lack the local capacity to manage at the national level the financial aid received from donors, the local and regional contractors are unable to compete at the international level and are therefore limited in their ability to use the benefits from the WTO, there is a clear unequal access to information, and an unrealistic time for delivery of the promises made to donors

Why aid and development programs cannot deliver independently

The most important reason for which trade agreements and aid strategies do not provide sound lasting results is the background of the African countries and in particular the sub-Sahara region. The background implies mostly the history and in particular recent history such as that starting from the colonialist era onwards.

The colonial period in Africa marked the beginning of a series of events whose consequences can be seen to this day. These effects are nowadays evident in the way in which the African states conduct their political, economic, and social affairs.

Colonialism as “a form of domination — the control by individuals or groups over the territory and/or behavior of other individuals or groups (…) colonialism refers to group domination and not to social relations and processes among sets of individuals at the family or sub-clan level”

Therefore, it can be argued that the relationship between the colonial powers and the colonized countries was one of which did not include a certain sense of equality; there were the dominant powers and the dominated peoples. This automatically implied a lack of initiative, and a sense of obedience. However, in such cases, any sense of independence or social or political initiative could not have been properly developed. This in turn determined the local society to lose its interest in becoming involved in its own fate. The results of such an attitude are vivid to this day.

There were situation in which the colonial presence in different regions of the world brought certain sense of prosperity and the education of democracy. Such an example is India where the British Empire created the most populous democracy in the world. Nonetheless, this is an exception, which certifies the rule that colonialism represented a dark period in the history of the oppressed peoples. Especially in Africa, there were no particular political entities that would diffuse the shock of the colonial influence and there were little means through which the indigenous peoples could actually stand against a foreign invasion. This is why the impact of the colonial powers was felt more abruptly in the African countries and had negative effects.

For sub-Sahara, the colonial experience was more or less extreme. In this sense, it should be mentioned the British dominance in the region, especially in Kenya. In this particular case, the economic development was reduced to the minimum in the sense that the British system of colonization did not allow a permanent development and a potential power for independence

. Moreover, this particular means of controlling the economy offered no possible local development but the one imposed by the colonizing forces.

Sub-Sahara has also been a constant source of natural resources and not one of production. More precisely, the African states have a large amount of raw material, especially precious stones. The colonial powers, without exception benefited from the exploitation of these resources without any due regard for the situation of the people. Therefore, the countries on the continent came to be considered practical sources of natural resources, as the population deepened in its poverty. Such cases can be seen for instance in Sierra Leone and other countries where diamonds are nowadays used a trading object for the acquisition of weapons to support the guerrilla wars on the continent. Despite these aspects, there were no investments being made to improve the social aspect of these trades, and thus, the locals were not encouraged to pursue entrepreneurship.

At the same time though, this aspect affected the social situation as well. “The practice of favoring one ethnic, religious, racial, or other cultural group over others in colonial society, or of giving them a higher status, helped to promote inter-group rivalries, and often contributed to the unequal distribution of resources. Favored or privileged groups had access to, or control of, important resources that allowed them to enrich their members, at the expense of nonmembers”

(Marker, 2003) Therefore, it can be argued that the colonial powers, in their attempt to control the situation in the African countries, favored certain segments of the society, an element which led to a great disparity in this sense. These disparities created inside the society different layers of development and at the same time levels of superiority and inferiority. Ultimately, this is translated most often into civil wars, unrest, and even genocide. An example in this sense is of course Rwanda.

For the sub-Saharan states, the military presence is most of the times a prerequisite. However, for countries such as Sierra Leone or Ghana, the military forces were the ones to stir up conflict, confusion, and most importantly lack of coherence for a potential road towards democracy. More precisely, in the case of Sierra Leone, in the late 1960s, after its 1961 proclamation of independence, the changes of the government took place not peacefully, but through military coups. In this sense, in 1967, a “Military coup deposes Premier Siaka Stevens’ government”

; a year later, the same prime minister comes back in office after another coup. These uncertainties were by no means useful for the state or for their nationals. However, the strive for power became essential for their rise to a superior function in that state.

An important issue in relation to the constant presence of the military in the political affairs of the Sub-Sahara African countries led to a perpetuation of constant fear and inconsideration. Most importantly, it reflects a negative perception of the environment of the West African region. In this sense, it is worth mentioning the fact that for decades now, the presence of the military in the Sierra Leone’s political life has transformed this country into an environment of mixed attitudes and opinions.

All the elements determined a very poor and uneven environment for development as well as aid strategies. Therefore, it can be argued that these conditions are not favorable for aid strategies that most often include non-refundable credits or even donations. There is no condition to support a clear and vivid administration that would avoid corruption and mismanagement.

Example of good management: Botswana

Botswana is one of the most important Sub-Saharan countries. This is not necessarily because of its size, which is impressive, but rather because it represents a success story in terms of development programs combined with trade agreements that functioned to the benefit of the population. In this sense, Botswana holds the largest diamond mine considered as value

. This mine, currently being exploited by the De Beers giant represents the most important source of income for the Botswana government. However, the strategy of exploitation of these diamonds was viewed as crucial for the way in which the country would develop in the future. In this sense, the state and private companies joined hands and established Debswana Diamond Company

. This encouraged not only the state to become involved but also the private sector.

The effects in Botswana are remarkable. Since the early time of their discovery, diamonds have helped develop the country. The diamond export represents today almost 80% of the total exports of the country, thus helping the economy grow

More precisely, the GDP is one of the highest in Africa, averaging at $5 031, statistics available in 2007

, the educational system is free up to the post graduate studies, the health system and the social system is one of the most performing in Africa, whereas the cities, the buildings, and the capital itself have dramatically changed their appearance, transforming Gaborone into one of the most modern cities in Africa.

The education system is rather simple in the country and is based on a relatively basic idea. Thus, the ministry of education affirmed that given the annual diamond production, every individual has the right to take free studies. The state provides the opportunity to exercise this right up to postgraduate studies.

. Thus, since gaining independence the number of schools tripled and the number of teachers increased from 1200 in 1966 to 7000 in 2002, according to data from the ministry of education

. The health system is as well essential and very well placed in the society. There are new hospitals being built, doctors being employed.

What is important about this study case is the fact that Botswana is no longer a LDC (Least Developed Country) but rather a graduate country, according to the United Nations

. Even according to the Human Development Report of 2010, it is ranked 98

. By comparison, the average of the Sub-Sahara region is only half of the index for Botswana, from 0.389 to 0.633 for the latter

Development programs

The United Nations Development Program has been established to provide the necessary assistance for the implementation of development projects that aim at firstly introducing the concept of development in the political mentality of the Sub-Saharan countries, and secondly at developing at the national level the types of projects that can insure an institutional legacy. In this sense, the presence of the major agencies of the UN in the Sub-Saharan region is crucial because it enable the proper coordination of aid strategies, donations, and trade in such a means as to ensure that the financial aspects are dealt with properly, in a transparent manner, and serves the purpose of the country.

There have been constant attempts to determine the best direction to ensure poverty reduction in the African countries. One of these means was the determination of the Millennium Goals. In this sense, the 8 goals take into account each segment of the society that needs to be improved. Furthermore, it determines the direction for the increasing the “real wealth of nations: human development”

. This is perhaps the most important initiative undertaken at global level that would ensure the sustainable development of nations especially the ones in Sub-Sahara. In this sense, the agencies of the UN play a vital role.

The MDGs fueled a new concept of development, one that was clearly embraced by the sub-Saharan African countries. In this sense, on this direction, they were seen to have significantly improved their performance. More precisely “ub-Saharan Africa has also succeeded in reducing by 17.4 per cent between 2001 and 2008 the number of adults and children newly infected by HIV / AIDS, and access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy has been expanded in many countries. The region continues to show overall progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Gender parity in primary education will be achieved in most countries in Africa in 2015. The number of seats held by women in parliament has increased in at least 31 countries”

Yet, despite there efforts, the economic crisis affected largely the minimal results achieved. This is largely due to the fact that the elements mentioned previously such as the historical legacy left behind by colonialism or military occupation has determined a different institutional framework that needs still to be modified and improved. In this sense, the only direction that has lacked any type of improvement remains the poverty reduction area

. Thus, Sub-Sahara is still among the poorest regions in the world, with a high rate of infant mortality rate, among others. This aspect alone comes to point out that despite serious aid strategies, there are increased gaps in the African systems, from the health to the education and beyond.


There are several conclusions to be drawn. Firstly, aid strategies and trade agreements are by no means a negative tool for action in Least Developed Countries such as the Sub-Sahara region. They offer the necessary financial input that is crucial for the way in which a country can develop. At the same time, the preferential trade agreements and the accession to the WTO are essential for the trade that is taking place regionally and internationally.

Secondly, these two measures cannot suffice. Despite their value and power, they are not sufficient to determine the change in sub-Saharan Africa. This is largely due to the fact that international organisms, donor countries, and even international institutions struggle with a still incipient model of government that has emerged throughout Sub-Sahara Africa after gaining independence, overthrowing military regimes, and ending civil wars. This is why it is crucial that each country, taking into account their own particularities and their own ultimate goal, endorses development strategies. A successful story is that of Botswana that has used its most important resources, the diamonds and the mines to attract foreign investors in the industry and become one of the largest diamond exporters in the world. This however was not achieved through the traditional development channels but rather it included the state and the emerging private sector.

The issue of poverty reduction is essential for the well being of the populations in Africa. There is indeed a great sense of disparity but, at the same time, the need for improvement is visible. Yet, the state is not ready, nor determined to embrace the development programs proposed by other international agencies such as the UN. There is a lack of personnel, of infrastructure, of political commitment. Therefore, there is an even greater need to have aid strategies, trade agreements, and development projects present in the same country so that actions be taken at all these levels and a clear, positive effect be registered and quantifiable in the MDGs and other statistical and life data.


CNN “Gem-of-a-deal spares Botswana from blood diamonds,” in World, 15 decembrie 2006, available at

CNN. “Your world today (transcript)” in Your World Today, 12 decembrie 2006, available at

Horvath, Ronald J. “A Definition of Colonialism.” Current Anthropology, Vol. 13, No. 1, (Feb., 1972), pp. 45-57

Ministry of Education in Botswana. “The Revised National Policy On Education” in Government Paper No. 2, 1994, available at

UNDP. UNDP in Africa. 2011. Available at

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2010 The Least Developed Countries Report 2010. United Nations. New York.

United Nations Development Program. Human Development Report. 2010. Accessed on 08 April 2011

Wallace G. Mills Hist. 317 3 Brit. Colonial Policies. N.d. accessed 08 April 2011, from

WTO. “Botswana” in Trade profiles, Aprilie 2009, available at

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2010 The Least Developed Countries Report 2010. United Nations. New York.


idem, p57

idem, p56.

Ronald Horvath, J. “A Definition of Colonialism.” Current Anthropology, Vol. 13, No. 1, (Feb., 1972), pp. 45-57

Mills Wallace, British Colonial Policies. N.d.

Sandra Marker, Effects of Colonization. 2003.

BBC. Timeline: Sierra Leone. 2010. Accessed 30 April 2010, from

Gemstones. “Diamond Mines of the World | Botswana” All about diamonds, 2009, available at ?

CNN. “Your world today (transcript)” in Your World Today, 12 decembrie 2006, available at

Organizatia Mondiala a Comertului. “Botswana” in Trade profiles, Aprilie 2009, available at

CNN “Gem-of-a-deal spares Botswana from blood diamonds,” in World, 15 decembrie 2006, available


Ministry of Education Botswana. “The Revised National Policy On Education” in Government Paper No. 2, 1994, available at

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2010 The Least Developed Countries Report 2010. United Nations. New York.

United Nations Development Program. Human Development Report. 2010. viewed on 08 April 2011 ?

UNDP. UNDP in Africa. 2011. Available at / idem

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