Thursday, April 06, 2006

Africa's development

Today was my last day of class for this first quarter and I am left with one week to complete my two essays. Today's class had an engaging debate about Africa's development and whether "concessionary" corporations will continue to help or impede the growth of this continent. Some tough questions were brought up on about the bargaining power of this transnational corporations and if nations can use their negotiating power to make sound decisions and partnerships with these companies and see the benefits reek to the people. In my opinion, it seems that this negotiating power has much to do with understanding the strategies of business and obtaining this information and knowledge. If Africa is looking to see a capitalist society with an African elite, then maybe investment should be placed in nurturing the business leaders who believe in this culture. However, once we see these business leaders become government, there is also a need to nurture an active civil society who will be willing to fight for democracy, accountability and transparency from the government and see the state act in the interests of better lifes for communities. But what can be done now while we watch our universities and technical schools create this base of educated individuals? Do you sit in the sidelines and watch business exploit opportunities of cheap labour and tax avoidance? I suppose it can come down to a socially responsible business as well as a socially responsible person. I suppose leaders can grow to understand their power to help others will have greater intrinsic values versus the power of profit. I'm still on the fence about that. But individuals can also become socially responsible by seeing their value as shareholders for some of these companies that supposedly are pressured by their shareholders to produce bigger dividends. Choosing to invest and use the services of socially responsible companies and encouraging others to do the same can be the start. If you like some street action, try to look further and show interest into why social movements and protests are increasing all around the world and gasp, participate in one yourself. Again, I've made it here to South Africa to not just sit on the sidelines but take a small step in a better direction, and you, as caring optimistic individuals, will also take strives to see the small changes you can make in your own lives.

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