Challenges of Leadership in the Developing Countries: Administrating Populous Economic Equity and Large Scale Development:  

“The Tall Tales of How China did it”

  By: Raphael Kutota Basisa, MBA


One important aspect of things my latest trip in China made me become aware of is the fact that I now strongly believe “If China can do it, So does Africa !”. It should be our Slogan and Motto – the summary basis to be proven for the study here. This Slogan and Motto is simply to mean that the latest closing that China had performed on the development gap between it and the former colonizing powers of the world (an astonishing economic leap forward), the group countries labeled as “The West” over the last 30 years is remarkable that the countries of the Sub-Sahara Africa should be taking notice. Sub-Sahara Africa is the last Frontier for Economic Development – the last piece of the Earth negatively affected by Development as it is scientifically known and defined today. It should be of their utmost interest to study this notable phenomenon and at their best of their ability attempt to duplicate the results for their own application. Not too long ago, China was one of the non-aligned countries just as they are now plus much additional hurdles to overcome: Overpopulation, Communism and Undemocratic Leadership Systems that the experts labeled as a counter-productive means for development, and finally the most non-westernized country – China was never officially a western colony nor a colony of any other occupying imperial power: Japan, Korea, Russia, Mongol…which could have brought development notion from the outside. All other aside, an important question as far as China 's economic prowess is concerned is: “For a poor country, where did the money come from?”. We will follow the trail of money. Seriously, China 's meteoric climb is extraordinary and really noteworthy.

At glance, it is appearing that the Chinese Development Model can be passed for an alternative to the Western Model. The model which after 50 years of trial at in Africa and over 150 years at different spots around the world notably in South America, Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, … has yet to bear fruits. Thus, it is so to say it for Africa as a special case along the thoughts of Bieker (2007): “ The 48 countries south of the Sahara desert in Africa make up the most impoverished and diseased region of the world. Although wealthy countries have poured more than $450 billion of development assistance (in 2003 dollars) into the region since 1980, nearly half the population lives on less than $1 per day, the average life expectancy is only 46 years and nearly one-third of children are underweight and malnourished. Despite its noble intent, aid has not rescued Sub-Saharan Africa from poverty. In many cases, it has undermined devel­opment, propped up dictators and fueled corruption ”.

Thus, if China and many of the countries in Asia have performed these level of rise in sector to gain economic prowess, the countries of Sub-Sahara Africa can reproduce the same results – if knowingly, we can discover the underground enterprise deployed by these Asian countries (the underlying undertaking). A special attention will be given to those of China , which is truly unconventional.

China came from behind so to speak as a country engrained in Undemocratic and Communist ideology – an ideology similar to the faulty one that has been attributed as root cause for the collapsed the USSR . Contrary to those other Asian countries within the same category – countries which were once colonies or foreign territories or commonwealth of western powers and have therefore always followed western development models: Democratic – Capitalist agendas). China on the other end barely received that outside type of influence – other than the negligible influence from western religious missionaries until the Maoist Revolution in 1949 and afterward, the contribution of paid technical consultants and educators. Counteracting those small advantages, China was loaded with bigger hurdles to overcome attempting economic development: the panaceas of overpopulation and an initially rudimental rural society ingrained in agrarian tradition far different than those of westerners. This is not an advantageous point of beginning in modern scientific terms. Amid that, within 30 years, China has performed these giant's feats that helped her overshoot formerly known as “Developed Countries” in many sectors of the national economies.

30 years in the lifespan of economic development for a nation is a compressed amount of time. As an initially impoverished country, some key interesting questions immediately come to mind: Where did China get the money to implement the expensive infrastructure and solid state institutions necessary for the country's take-off? Is China deploying a revolutionary/innovative “Revenue Structure” that other countries need to take notice of? What were China 's special strength, breakthrough opportunities, and true competitive advantages? Did China 's continuous years of recorded history of ruling Dynasties for the last two millennia contributed to the recent years of economic progress? Does national ambition and human talents alone adequate for Take-off? Were the Maoist Cultural Revolution and Westerner isolation assets and factors for China 's take-off? Was a Communistic system a pre-requisite for China 's expedient take-off?

This is the year of 2010 as this introduction is being written; It's now has been 50 years - not a milestone for the Sub-Saharans, but only a mile marker for the countries south of Sahara Desert. 50 years has gone by since the official year of Africa 's Independence : 1960.

Many experts in the field of Development Economics (different from Economic Development), the field of the economic science deeded to analyze development matters as it related to developing countries have more like hypothesized that underdevelopment is not a status but a given state of matter that many of the developing countries of this world do not have what it takes to lifting from and breakout of their inherent dilemma. The China 's flight is coming to them as a Kuhn Paradigm that they yet have to come to terms with. (“In sum, a Kuhn Paradigm includes not only a unique and unprecedented orientation toward the phenomena, a dramatic break with past and existing orientation” Reynolds (2007).

A few years before Africa 's independence, a new discipline developed: “NationsBuilding” with purpose to assist newly freed countries to position them into development. Until the late 1980's, it had converted from a civilian study into a military inquiry. On the civilian side, Development Economists were the only social scientist left to tackle the issues of developing nations. There are many Development Economists who'd taken the time to research the Sub-Saharans and other developing spots around the world. They often fall under the following strict five different banners:

1. The “Act of God” Pessimists – these are the ones that claim that Geography is cause for the inherent disadvantages plaguing development and erecting an insurmountable natural barrier to development. The most infamous apostle for this notion is Gerald Diamond, a Canadian Sociologist in his popular film: “Guns, Butter, and Steel” and David S. Landes and his book “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, Why some are so rich and some so poor”.

2. The “Econometrics” Pessimists – they believe, faults from lag in national economics deterministic elements are cause for underdevelopment: Paul Collier, “The Bottom Billion” Why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it. Hernando DeSoto, “The Mystery of Capital”, Why capital Triumphs in the West and fails everywhere else

3. “Faulty Model/Change Status Quo” Theorists

Joseph E. Stglitz, “Globalization and its discontents”.

William Easterly, “The White man's Burden, why the West's efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good”

4. Open The Valve: More Aid will Do Good Optimists – this is the bunch that still opting for Developing nations to remain the basket case for western and other rich locus “Charity Case”. The notion that developing nations do not have the capacity for tackling their own problem, so, “The West to the Rescue” is the only strategy to save the poorest of the human race to leave existence and live as decent human beings.

Jeffrey Sachs in his book “The end of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our time”, Rock Star “Bono”, although he is not a Development Economist, but his very influential persona resulted in persuading the world's government (the United Nations) in initiating the “Millennium Development Goals” (MDG) by 2015.

The Non-Profits, the Religious Missionary, the Foundations, the Assistance Agencies of the developed Nations - their faulty short term model, unless it is for strictly for the temporary alleviation of suffering from poverty or natural calamities, their models ignore the long term economic sustainability model: “One billion in rich west cannot sustain six billions poor in the rest of the world”.

5. Trade Not Aid Optimists: This is an oversimplified notion that because it is often said that a capitalistic exchange within one country is characterized as a positive sum game that the poor can trade fairly with the rich - “Trade between nations is not a Zero-Sum Game” – a utopian theory that only the free-hearted can believe in.

C. K. Prahalad, “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”, Bieke, C., “ Trade Is the Best Aid for Africa ”, the National Center for Policy Analysis. What is wrong with the Western Development Model?

We believe that the China case represent a resurgence of hypothesis that underdevelopment can be overcame. At this point, the countries of Sub-Sahara are still buried up to their shoulders fighting for their survivals while China , once a non-aligned as they were at independence is thriving.

As I once wrote in previous essay: In 1960, “Upon the independence days, much optimism was in the air for the newly freed and sovereign states. Ghana , formerly British Gold Coast, was in the same economic standing with South Korea which was just emerging from westerner ideological war against its northern half-sister. The Congo , the country also known as Zaire and formerly then as Belgian Congo , was at the same economic footing as its African counterpart - the still white dominated South Africa . The Republic of Sierra Leone was at the same development footing if not slightly above than China and India . Today almost half-century afterward, the economic divide between these countries sited as examples in the above paragraphs and many others is so drastic that it is not impossible that one should all ask: “What's wrong with Africa 's self-rule?”

It appears that there is no clear interchangeability among national development experts on what development and underdevelopment really are and the specific steps to be taken by one to become developed.

Development Economics is a subset of Economic Science. Theorists on how to solve the development conundrum of the long string of the third world countries have not yet to connect their ideas to the overall theoretical explanation of past and existing theories of economic sciences:

1. The Market Theory by Adam Smith: Markets – the physical or virtual places whereas supply and demand interact with one another and keep each other in check resulting in fair and balanced price of goods and services. In summary, Adam Smith in his “Wealth of Nations” advocated that free market will act as a well balanced Dice. The free push and pull of supply and demand, if left alone, will result in the final price, as he referred to it; “in equilibrium”. Markets are self-actuating instruments necessary for the success of a capitalistic economy.

2. British Economist John Maynard Keynes in his 1935 book “ The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money ” theorized that in times of dyer need that it is sometimes important that Government action intervene by infusion of money for boosting the national economy back into health. This is not to construe that the magical hand of free market by Adam Smith is not a valid economic theory. This is simply a temporary measure to remove from or to provisionally stop the downward spiral of some bad transitional economic conditions. John Maynard Keynes advocated as well the notion for national government borrowing from private markets and running budgetary deficits in lean time as a momentary fix to enhance or maintain the level of employment or capital investment to weather the time till the return of the boom.

3. Additionally to those two main ones, the following is an old perhaps outdated theory that still need to be illustrated here. Milton Freidman in Laisser-Faire and Deregulation Economic Theories: Essays in Positive Economics, 1953 and Karl Marx in “Capitalist Manifesto” Economic Theory: Das Capital, 1867. The Laisser-Faire Economic Theory is the one that promote the notion that “Free Market” rarely works in real life situations – human being are driven by greed and that if left alone, they will simply concerned with their personal gain and continually exploit the workers down to the level of sub-human status (Karl Marx in Das Kapital). That a certain measures such as Unionization of workers or Communitarian ownership of Capital and other production tools. Only things such as these will introduce a balance of power to counter-act the evil nature of man (self-interest).

Another important point often overlooked by national development theorists is the effect of the human factor in resolving national economy dilemmas. Nations are led by political leaders and the professional public administrators. The effects of Leadership (Policy Makers) and the Public Policies they make as nations development is concerned should not be undermined. W. W. Rostow writes on page 91 of his “Politics and the Stages of Growth” that the Chinese government had little to do with economic control down to 1949.

The purpose of this research is to identify the steps taken by the Asian countries, especially those of China in the attempt to identify what was the process underwent as pre-requisite for the economic propulsion during the last half-a-century to come as close as to seal the development gap. These steps can be as well applied to the countries of the Sub-Sahara Africa as strategy to help them perform similar stride and move their humongous population out below lives under extreme poverty.

Why is this research important: extreme poverty is not something that anyone one can wish to for another person. Every year, billions of charitable dollars are spent to alleviate suffering caused by extreme poverty in the many underdeveloped countries to sustain the faulty economic model of one billion rich people to carry the weight of the other six billions: a kill ratio of 1-to-6. A ratio much worst than that of the bankrupting United States Social Security system of retired baby boomers to working adults 1-to-3. If only someone can understand the process of development and therefore allow underdeveloped countries to sustain their economies as means to reducing the scale of current quantity.

The Abstractness in the laws of economics will permit the duplication of results from one locus to another.

The results for this study will be communicated in an upcoming article.

Published June 20, 2010.

Also read

A World beyond the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

By: Raphael Kutota Basisa, MBA

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