Human capital, sustainability, and globalization

Enterprise Resilience Management Blog has an excellent article about the proper way to help Africa. The best paragraph:

Part of the Development-in-a-Box flexible framework involves investment in human capital. After all, unless local workers can sustain development by themselves nothing but economic colonialism can be achieved. Kaberuka concludes with arguments that echo Ghani’s: “Lastly, Africa must be given a chance to meaningfully integrate into the global trading environment in order to sustain growth performance.” Perhaps the strongest “no” comes from James Shikwati, the founder and director of the Inter Region Economic Network and CEO of The African Executive business magazine. As a businessman and entrepreneur myself, I certainly find myself in sympathy with what Shikwati writes.

Steve (EMRB’s writer) and Bradd (the blog’s editor) hit the nail on the head.

African developmetn has to focus on three broad areas: human capital, sustainability, and globalization.

Human capital is relatively straightforward. To over simplify the situation, general intelligence, along with economic system, is an excellent predictor for national wealth. Conservative estimates suggest that sub-saharan Africa’s mean IQ can be raised by 15 points merely be reducing disease, starvation, and other environmental factors. Programs that feed the hungry and inoculate against disease are not just humanitarian niceties, but vital components in raising sub-Saharan Africa up.

Sustainability is a must. Indeed, sustainability is the watchword behind my concept of a Sysadmin Industrial Complex. Any system that relies on continued goodwill to keep running will run into failure, because that goodwill will eventually be lost, either out of boredom or outright reevaluation. Real engagement with Africa needs to transcend charity and politics, so that the solution is “locked in.” Working with China to build up the infrastructures of countries where Beijing acquires natural resources, for instance, is a sustainable mode of development.

Likewise, without globalization no true progress is possible.The world economy not only allows countries to keep compounding their wealth, but it also locks them in to sane economic management. Thomas Friedman refered to globalization as a “golden straightjacket” which brings wealth and removes freedom of action.

Human capital, sustainability, globalization: the prescription for Africa.