Draft, ICT4D

The White Man’s Burden [2]

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[A blog post that I never completed.  Published in its unfinished draft form]


“The gulf between today’s rich and poor countries is”, observes Jeffrey Sachs (The End of Poverty, p.28), “a new phenomenon, a yawning gap that opened during the period of modern economic growth”. Oddly, it seems not to occur to him that the two facts may not be unrelated in a fairly @@@obvious way. [“to many in the developing world, globalization has not brought the promised economic benefits. A growing divide between the haves and have-nots has left increasing numbers in the Third World in dire poverty, living on less than a dollar a day. Despite repeated promises of poverty reduction made over the last decade of the twentieth century, the actual number of people living in poverty has actually increased by almost 100 million.” Stiglitz, p.5]

By 1998, the gap between the richest economy, the United States, and the poorest region, Africa, had widened [from four to one in per capita income] to twenty to one. Since all parts of the world had roughly comparable starting points in 1820 (all very poor by current standards), today’s vast inequalities reflect the fact that some parts of the world achieved modern economic growth while others did not.

This is all of course perfectly true [“The IMF has made mistakes in all the areas it has been involved in: development, crisis management, … In many countries, mistakes in sequencing and pacing led to rising unemployment and increased poverty” Stiglitz, p.18]

Notes and quotes —

[1] “Although the IMF invariably insists that indebted countries adopt structural adjustment programs, World Bank figures show that 63 of 69 countries under such plans saw their external debt increase during the programs. … The external debt burden of sub-Saharan Africa has increased by nearly 400% since 1980, when the IMF and World Bank began imposing their ‘structural adjustment programs.'” (http://www.50years.org/factsheets/africa.html)
[2] “According to the World Bank, countries in Africa following IMF structural adjustment policies have slower growth in agricultural production than countries which are not adhering to IMF structural adjustment.” (http://www.citizen.org/trade/africa/house_fight/articles.cfm?ID=7688)

Bibliography and references

Sachs, J. The End of Poverty.

Stiglitz, J. (2002). Globalization and Its Discontents. London: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN: 014101038X.  [Amazon]


‘Survey of IMF Impact on African Countries’, Public Citizen.

Africa Out of the Limelight: The Debt Crisis One Year After the Gleneagles G8‘, Africa Action.

50 Years Is Enough