Editorial from ROAPE Volume 21 Number 62
Stranglehold on Africa
The IMF and the World Bank and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have undoubtedly played a major role in shaping Africa's recent economic, political and social history. Their own interpretation of their role is, not surprisingly, generally positive; the consequences of their intervention, we suggest by contrast, have been generally negative as far as economic, political and social development in Africa are concerned. The World Bank has argued that significant recovery took place in the second half of the 1980s, as a result of the IFIs interventions. We disagree. The interventions of the IFIs have involved the crude application of a standard package of measures to what they see as a general set of ‘deficiencies’ , rather than the careful construction of specific measures adapted to the particular circumstances of particular countries, and have been associated with conditional lending which has contributed to increasing indebtedness. The interventions have also not worked, even on their own terms. If there is a pattern to be seen in African development over the last twenty years, it is generally one of poor performance. There have been some success stories, and the trajectories of individual countries often vary considerably, but the majority of African economies are in a poor state in the mid-1990s.