The African continent has been bombarded, for so many years, with economic theories that were/are supposed to make this continent a viable international economic player. These theories, for the most part, are developed outside the African continent by foreigners who teach Africans what they have identified as the best parameters that will trigger Africa’s development process. However, the reality on the ground is that these theories do not seem to have significantly improved the economic and social indicators of the vast majority of African countries.
An economic theory is only viable when it addresses a specific issue within a specific context. In other words, if an economic theory was applied successfully in Asia, for instance, the same economic model may not be replicated in most African countries because Asians and Africans do not share the same culture. Why is culture important here? Because your culture determines who you are and affects your state of mind (positively or negatively).
One of the problems in Africa is that the economic theories or models that are applied to develop the continent barely take into account the local environment and culture. This is because, as mentioned above, these theories are drafted by foreigners or international economists/theorists. And African countries seem to take for granted all such theories that are developed by renowned international experts and/or institutions. Unfortunately, this is a mistake which is still perpetuated when African students go to study in institutions/universities based outside the African continent and that have specialized on “development issues”. These students are thus given development theories that they will eventually apply when they become influential African leaders.
Before colonization, Africans had economic and social models that perfectly espoused their environment and culture. This was the result of years and years of experiments, of trials and errors, etc. The ancient economic models that they used could be a basis for developing new economic theories in Africa. In other words, in this complex and globalized world, this new economic theory could take into account Africa’s past as well as the best practices learned from other nations. Yet, at the end of the day, the best practices from overseas must be contextualized in order to avoid the copy/paste phenomena which is slowing down Africa’s development/industrialization. This is the reason why a new economic model, in Africa, cannot be the sole endeavor of economists. Indeed, African philosophers, anthropologists, historians, sociologists, etc. must be consulted in order to develop a viable economic model.
An economic model must be simple as it intends to resolve an issue. It can be complex, but not complicated. Otherwise, only the conceptor will be able to understand his model. Complexity, as opposed to complication, means that there can be different layers to resolve a problem. It is the accumulation of these layers that complexifies an economic model; but the latter remains accessible because the layers, taken individually, are actually simple (complex to some extent). These layers are: sociology, economics, technology, history, demographics, etc. In other words [Simplicity + Complexity + n = Complexity (not Complication)]
Africans do know what they have to do in order to develop the African continent, provided the African expertise is valued; thus not considered inferior to international expertise. It is this inferiority complex which is seriously preventing the continent from moving ahead. How many Africans have given up trying to help their continent with new ideas that were rejected because deemed irrelevant or inferior? There are many of them, and it is high time this attitude changes if Africa wants to take advantage of the multidimensionality of her numerous talents.