Reasserting African critical authority in the national development picture

Helen Lauer


The self-promotional rhetoric generated by Western development aid industries and scientific research cartels sustains a popular pretence that Africans require foreign technical wherewithal and moral initiative to meet their development goals. I argue to the contrary. Focusing first upon medical care delivery as a case in point, I demonstrate how global health spending in billions of dollars perpetuates the chronic morbidity and short life expectancy of people in economically-disadvantaged regions of the world. Secondly, turning to Africa’s so-called ‘resource curse’, the sheer ignorance of foreigners about the social significance of land and the meaning of legitimate political authority in Africa defeats cutting edge proposals of Westernoriented ethicists to solve the gross distributive injustices of globalisation. The dearth of African control and decision making authority in international partnerships implicates proposed natural resource reparation schemes which, if carried out, could exacerbate the economic injustices they were designed to reconcile. I argue that, in general, unregulated economic principles determining success in the global knowledge market are an unreliable indicator for ranking the value of knowledge or for predicting the potential success of strategic plans in the management of national development.

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