Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Think Tank Resource for Africa

Article excerpt

Abstract

In the years since post-European colonial independence, African countries have tried to improve their economic condition with the help of European, IMF, and/or World Bank sponsored aid packages. These assistance programs, though promoted as benevolent, have actually, by-and-large, exacerbated national poverty and infrastructure decay because of their structure, design, and associated stipulations. From these experiences, it is clear that Africa must be ingenious in designing solutions for economic and technology uplift that depend, with greatest weight, upon use of its own human and natural resources. In the Pan-African sense, HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the United States, with use of their graduates, faculty, and/or facilities, can provide economic/policy management advice and technology transfer to African nations and other Black countries. Thus this paper explores the parameters in which Black institutions of higher learning can facilitate Africa's development on multiple fronts.

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In the years following post-European colonial independence, the African continent has undergone the effects and "growing pains", trying numerous strategies and initiatives aimed at developing the infrastructure and jump starting the economies of its nations. Yet, very few of these efforts have yielded substantive and tangible rewards for Africa on either the national or regional level; many nations, as an initial venture, focused on North-South bilateral cooperation as a conduit for economic and industrial development, as bilateral cooperation was conceptually envisioned and organized around interactions / partnerships between a Northern hemisphere country (i.e. European; rich; industrialized) and a Southern hemisphere country (i.e. African or non-White; poor; developing) with aims of establishing a one-way transfer of technological/economic assistance and resources from the rich nations to the poor ones.

This kind of assistance to developing countries has shown its limitations, particularly in Africa, because aid is often allocated and directed to foreign/non-indigenous corporations/firms (operating in the recipient nations) that are of the same national origin as the donor country; moreover, the aid-receipt stipulations usually favor projects of interest to businesses and enterprise ventures from the donor country. In this scenario, the allotted/earmarked money never really reaches the donor country, but merely is re-circulated back to the origin-point donor country via their national corporations; subsequently, its impact on economic growth and development has been negligible because countries funding the projects conduct and design them for self-advantage and benefit, and at best, the recipient countries are passive participants to any of the projects.

Many have hoped that a multilateral approach to development and economic relief with use of such international organizations/agencies as the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank would bring more fairness to the system than did the bilateral concept. Unfortunately, the interventions of these organizations have done very little to help Africa while (in fact) they have exacerbated poverty and indebtedness (Shah, 2005). In this second scenario, the economic programs imposed by the IMF and the World Bank, particularly throughout Africa, require drastic internal reductions in spending on health, education and development amongst recipient nations in order to repay the loan debt owned to donor nations; thus, as financial resources are drained in loan payback and associated high interest rates, no money is available to tackle issues of socioeconomics and health such as poverty and a declining life expectancy. Thus, per capita GDP that grew 30% in the last two decades following 1960s-independence fell by 15% in the next two decades after intervention of the IMF and the World Bank which involved imposed drastic measures for African recipient nations, e. …

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