Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Models for African Revival

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Models for African Revival

Article excerpt

As the twin menaces of tribal conflict and civil war continue to engulf Rwanda, Burundi, and Zaire, long-term economic reconstruction in these countries is low on the international agenda. But when ethnic Hutu and Tutsi refugees return home eventually and again attempt peaceful coexistence, attention will have to turn to the process of establishing the physical and policy underpinnings for development.

Despite devastation and a lack of political consensus, the three countries have useful models near at hand. Neighbors Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania have embraced stabilization and structural reform. They have integrated trade and investment, raising incomes and curtailing historical confrontation.

Zaire remains Central Africa's mineral-rich giant, whose potential has been squandered by decades of corruption and mismanagement. President Mobutu Sese Seko, its leader since independence, is believed to have amassed a multibillion-dollar fortune through diamond concessions. Fighting between government soldiers and rebels has renewed fears of hyperinflation. Prices soared more than 2,000 percent in 1994-95. Gross domestic product (GDP) has not risen for several years, and the country has been suspended since 1991 from receiving International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank aid for failure to service debts. The outlook for Burundi and Rwanda is similarly bleak. Values for key exports like bananas and coffee have slumped as ethnic massacres have decimated populations and agricultural estates. Civil servants have not been paid for months, and few major companies have maintained operations. Burundi is under an African commercial embargo to protest human rights violations. In contrast, Uganda, which also experienced mass slaughter during the reign of Idi Amin, today records GDP expansion of 10 percent. Once a pariah, it is a favorite of the development banks and will be the first beneficiary of their just-completed debt reduction plan. …

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