«ANSA Alternatives to Neo-liberalism in Southern Africa The search for Sustainable human development in Southern Africa Editors: Godfrey Kanyenze, ...»
The difference between this alternative and the self-discovery approach is that the latter places emphasis on production for exports using old technology. Successful competition using such technologies is difficult to imagine. However, production to meet the national demand of the regional market is possible especially with a well-articulated regional integration strategy. The alternative approach suggested here recognises that the technological gap between developing and developed countries is huge, and it will be difficult for Southern Africa to compete with the developed world on frontier technology. However, it must be pointed out that there are certain areas of frontier technology, such as biotechnology research, that the region can enter into and afford collectively, especially as it relates to agriculture. The Industrial Research and Development Centre in Zimbabwe has been successful in developing and introducing new crop varieties through tissue culture that have improved agricultural productivity. South Africa is also involved in such research. Software development, in the case of information technology, is knowledge intensive but does no require huge unaffordable investment although the competition is stiff.
The "self discovery" approach underplays the role of research and development. In fact R&D is not seen as being important in any way.
However, in the alternative that we are proposing, R&D is seen as being important.
Going back to the consultative framework that is central to this alternative approach, it has already been pointed out that the consultative process should come up with a set of activities by the various economic players (SME, informal sector, agriculture, industry etc.). The role of R&D is to facilitate the successful implementation of the desired activities by the various actors in order for them to meet their aspirations. In other words R&D and science and technology are people centred.
The lack of an effective well-functioning consultative framework for science and technology policy making can lead to missing opportunities for self discovery. An example in Zimbabwe is the current efforts in promoting the planting of the Jatropha tree to use the seeds to produce bio-diesel.
This is not a new idea. It was mooted several years ago within the Ministry of Energy but was never taken up. If discussions were conducted with rural communities and these communities were able to see the potential benefits that growing and marketing Jatropha seeds held for them, social pressure could have been applied to have the project instigated. At times knowledge is available but foresight is lacking. Bright ideas are scattered around the region but the main problem is harnessing and implementing them. The thrust of this alternative approach is to use science and technology for development in a way that benefits the majority.
The fundamental point of emphasis in the proposed strategy is that organisations of civil society and labour should develop mechanisms for making sure that science and technology is not sidelined by macroeconomic stability considerations. These are usually short-term and tend to be the pre-occupation of tripartite negotiations. In other words, science and technology is a long-term national vision that should not be distracted by short-term considerations, much as these may be important.
7. Summary and conclusions
This paper has reviewed science and technology policies and practices in Africa as a whole and in Southern Africa in particular. It has been observed that Africa recognises the importance of science and technology in development, but has not made much progress in harnessing its scientific and technological capabilities and utilising these for national development that benefits its people. African governments have not demonstrated serious commitment to the development and utilisation of science and technology, partly due to the preoccupation with short-term economic stabilisation programmes.
The national innovation systems in Africa, including the SADC are disarticulated and compartmentalised and linked more to the Empire rather than being internally integrated. Such national innovation systems cannot function efficiently to uplift the standards of living of the majority and serve national interests. African countries do have the capacity to formulate and implement science and technology policies and programmes that can benefit the majority provided they harness the human resources among the various science and technology stakeholders, including the potential beneficiaries of such programmes.
SADC recognises that science and technology is the key to solving the challenges facing the region, but the general approach used with regards to science and technology is predominantly based on the neo-liberal theory, which is not surprising, given the overall economic development approaches within the region that are premised on this philosophy. There is a need for an interventionist approach in the development of science and technology since market forces alone cannot deliver the required results given the long gestation period, uncertainties and externalities that characterise investment in science and technology.
The experience of the South East Asian countries is that governments used strategic interventionist approaches to promote the development and utilisation of science and technology for national development. These governments invested heavily in science and technology development institutions and provided incentives to the private sector to invest in science and technology, thereby building effective national innovation systems.
This paper proposes a science and technology development strategy that is built upon what is termed "self discovery". This approach recognises the importance of market forces and private entrepreneurship in development and the strategic role of government in co-ordinating and stimulating the development process, including investing in scientific and technological activities. The proposed approach is premised on the science and technology policymaking process as the foundation upon which strategies can be developed to harness a nation's science and technology for the benefit of the majority. There is a need to set up an institutional framework covering all stakeholders to facilitate their contribution to science and technology policymaking through a consultative process.
The consultative process should lead to the development of a nationally shared vision, based on the needs and aspirations of the people. That process should identify activities that require to be undertaken to attain the national vision and the actors. The role of science and technology to enable fulfilment of tasks by the various actors should then be defined. In this regard, areas of R&D are identified and the roles of government and the private sector are defined.
This approach tends to create inbuilt mechanisms to ensure that science and technology is not sidelined by the need to address short-term macroeconomic stability considerations. Science and technology will have a great potential to improve the livelihoods of the majority since its development will be determined/guided by the needs and aspirations of these people as identified in the consultative processes.
Chapter 14 Gender issues in Southern Africa "A gender perspective means recognising that women stand at the crossroads between production and reproduction, between economic activity and the care of human beings, and therefore between economic growth and human development. They are workers in both spheres and those that suffer the most at sake, those that suffer most when the two spheres meet at cross-purposes, and those most sensitive to the need for better integration between the two." (Gita Sen)
Since the early 1980s, Southern African countries have adopted "structural adjustment programmes". Typically, these programmes have involved a combination of short-run measures aimed at stabilisation and the long-run structural reforms aimed at transforming "heavily controlled" economies into market economies. The key policy goals and instruments of the adjustment framework have included the devaluation of national currencies; the adoption of measures aimed at liberalising trade, investment, and foreign currency transactions; the deregulation of prices and interest rates; the promotion of cost-cutting, deficit reducing measures such as subsidy withdrawal, cost sharing, and cost recovery;
the retrenchment of workers in the public sector; the liquidation, privatisation, and commercialisation of public enterprises both for budgetary reasons and as part for promoting market efficiency; and the introduction of measures aimed at promoting the private sector while simultaneously rolling back the frontiers of the interventionist state.
Neo-liberalism in short is expected to result in increased growth and development, with a trickle down effect for correcting social misdemeanours, such as poverty. Despite these ambitious expectations, very little has been attained under neo-liberal policy reforms except resoundingly, an increase in poverty and widening income and gender disparities. At the meso-level, the net effect of adjustment has led to the closure of several public sector units, loss of employment, spiralling prices, declines in food security, the introduction of user fees in hospitals, increasing costs of services due to the decline in government subsidies and provisioning of the social sector. The liberalisation of markets has severe class, community and gender specific impacts – instead of producing growth, equity and improved livelihoods, it has accentuated pre-existing inequities.
When discussing social policy during the adjustment years brings us squarely into the heart of a long-standing debate on the adjustment process itself. The debate is now whether neo-liberalism can deliver the expected outcomes and whether the costs of adjustment that have already been experienced can be termed transitory. The design of economic adjustment measures and the assessment of their impact on the behaviour of economic agents; be they individuals, households, or firms, still tends not to consider gender as a distinguishing factor. While both men and women participate in and are affected by economic adjustment and the implementation of neo-liberal policies, what is often not recognised by policy-makers, is that this occurs in different ways, because men and women play different roles and face different constraints in responding to economic policy changes and to shifts in relative prices and incentives. The failure to explicitly recognise gender differentiated economic agents, and the extent to which these agents have differential access to management and use of and control over economically productive resources (land, labour, capital, technology and training) has implications for the productivity, flexibility and dynamism of the economy.
This paper aims to question neo-liberalism as a panacea for the woes of Southern African women. Women still remain severely marginalised from socio-economic frameworks and if this continues, the resolutions continuously made towards achieving poverty eradication cannot be accomplished.
There is substantial global lobbying and advocacy that alternative economic growth and development policies be more engendered.
However, the extent to which economic policies within Southern Africa will be engendered depends very much on the gender dynamics inherent in our economies. It is not surprising that many of the early development strategies did not incorporate gender dimensions such as the feminisation of poverty and gender equity. However, as the definition of gender expanded to include the "human factor", gender issues have begun to characterise development strategies. Regrettably, many development strategies that are mapped out for many countries within Southern Africa are still often characterised by gender-neutral language. Opportunities for women with Southern Africa to diversify their roles within the economy have remained limited and therefore they continue to be marginalized from the economic framework. The fact that women remain confined to the care economy, to which an economic value is rarely attached, has consequently resulted in their exclusion from benefiting from nationally drawn economic strategies.
Early writings on structural adjustment highlighted the potentially negative effects, particularly on poor women. The gender debate continues to create interest at all levels of development. At the international level, most of the Southern African countries have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (CEDAW). Many of the SADC member states are also signatories to some international conventions on civil and political rights and on economic, social and cultural rights. There have been many world conferences/summits held in pursuance of equality, equity and the empowerment of disadvantaged groups. These include the Beijing Conference in 1995, the series of World Summit events and the World Social Forum. At the regional level, SADC has put in place a Declaration on Gender (1997). The SADC Gender Declaration "expresses their (SADC heads of State) conviction that gender equality is a fundamental human right and that the integration and mainstreaming of gender issues into the SADC Programme of Action and Community Building Initiative is key to the sustainable development of the SADC region".
In the year 2000, at the Millennium Summit, 189 heads of state and government, through the Millennium Development Goals committed themselves to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women by the year 2015. At the national level, some Southern African countries have put in place constitutions which incorporate gender equality as a human right issue supported by national legislative instruments on equality, equity and affirmative action. Most SADC countries now boast of national gender policies. What is missing is the questioning of neo-liberal policies that continue to undermine all these initiatives (efforts) and perceptibly have no space for addressing livelihoods, gender equity and the eradication of poverty, which are key elements for roping in women into the economic growth and development agenda.