National Planning and Development in British West Africa Essay

West Africa states have maintained close political and economic ties with their former colonial powers. During the colonial era, the colonial administrators successfully imposed and impressed their alien pattern and orientation in the socio;political and economic affairs of West African countries. West African economic affairs were distorted to an extent that two decades after independence, all the countries are very much dependent economically on their former colonial administrators. Post-colonial African economies are replete with the scars of the uneven and exploitative nature of colonialism.

Despite the abundant resources of Africa, African countries are among the least developed and industrialized nations in the world. Thus, it cannot be denied that the post-colonial African economics are, by and large, a function of their colonial past. The colonial economics were directly linked to the economics of their respective metropolitan powers through an array of policies ranging from control of currency, trade policies and infrastructure. Thus after independence, one of the problems of the new Independent states was the struggle to break the colonial economic system Inherited t independence. Ender the colonial economy, these states remained predominantly producers of raw materials for the manufacturing industries of the colonial powers and consumers of their manufactured goods. Again, the Imported and exported trade of these states was dominated by the big trading companies of the colonial powers. However, West African government are very aware of the problems arising from the underdeveloped nature of their economy and that is why since independence, they have made concrete programmer to transform the economy and improve the peoples standard of living.

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The determination is reflected in the various development plans that have been drawn up by all the countries. 1 It Is at this Juncture that this paper examines the various development plans drafted after independence, the objectives of the plans and factors that worked against the success of the plans. To Illuminate these points effectively, it is important to identify the English speaking West African states. These are Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra-Leone,and The Gambia. Wholly, these states share the same history and this explains why they were confronted with the same problems after independence.

OBJECTIVES OF THE PAPER To provide a conceptual clarification to the concepts; National Planning and Development ;Give an historical background of British West Africa thereby examining the antecedent of development plans In West Africa with the Colonial Development Welfare Act of 1945. ; Highlight the Post-colonial Development plans and critically elucidate the adopted Western Models in post-colonial British West Africa. ; Examine the role of COCOAS as a plan action in fostering National Economic Development. ; Examine the aftermath of the adopted models as well as factors hat militated against the success of the development plans.

FIFO According to Diana Conveys, National planning is a continuous process which involves decisions or choice about alternative ways of using available resources with the aim of achieving particular goals at some time in future. It is a technique, a means to an end, being the realization of certain pre-determined and well-defined aims and objectives laid down by a central planning authority. The end may be to achieve economic, social, political or military objectives. 2 The concept of development is relative and as such has many meanings.

According to Toying Fallow, development can be thought of as a process of structural change and capital accumulation that moves a society closer to conditions in which the basic needs of the people are meet. To Akin Ambiguous, development is essentially a human issue, a concern with the capacity of individuals to realize their inherent potentials and effectively to cope with the changing circumstances of their lives. This view was seconded by Walter Rodney who tends to draw a distinction between the perceptions of development, as it relates to the individual, and as it relates to the larger society.

Rodney explains that development, at the level of the individual, implies increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self -discipline, responsibility and material wellbeing. In this explanation, Rodney has identified the key qualities by which human potentials are Judged. However, he goes on to state that the achievement of any of those aspects of human development is very much tied in with the state of the society as a whole. What this means is that any society that intends to develop would naturally hinge the success of its development on meeting these basic needs of those within its confines.

Development plan on the other hand has in practice been used to describe a wide range of documents or verbal statements of a government’s long- term and short-term objectives towards the development of its country. For the purpose of this paper, development is looked at within the context of the nation state and what national development plan entails. Scholars like M. L Changing have noted that the term, national development plan connotes the preparation of a process through which set goals for development are intended to be achieved.

The development plan of a region or nation is usually considered in conjunction with the placement of social needs. The development of any nation is multi purposed and the process towards achieving this involves different criteria. He said that the contents of the country can vary greatly and that the development of different nations and its content are very different, and this difference is due not only to the initial level of development, but also the characteristics of each nation, its industrial structure, geographical location, production specialization and many other factors.

The need for planning in underdeveloped countries is further stressed by the stickiest of removing widespread unemployment and ensuring human capital development. Len the absence of sufficient enterprise and initiative, a centralized planning authority is the only institution for planning the development of the economy. For rapid economic development, underdeveloped countries require the development of the agricultural and the industrial sectors, the establishment of social and economic overheads and the expansion of the domestic and foreign trade sectors in a harmonious way.

All this requires simultaneous investment in different sectors which is only possible under development planning. BRITISH WEST AFRICA – Africa is a blessed continent with natural, mineral, national and human resources and could have been one of the most developed continents in the world, but the present underdeveloped state of the continent is alarming. The reason for its underdevelopment is deeply rooted in its colonial past.

This explains why scholars like Michael Crowder are of the view that British colonial rule in West Africa was purely driven by commercial interest and whatever kind of development that accrued to Africa at this time was by accident, not designs. Thus, till date, there is a natural indecency in newly independent African countries to blame colonialism for their difficulties and to see in neo-colonialism an obstacle in the way of further advance. During the early years of colonial rule, there was considerable debate as to what type of colonial rule was suitable for the administration of West Africa.

There was, furthermore, growing concern as to how the people of diverse origins and cultures could be integrated for administrative convenience. Consequently, Britain adopted the policy of Indirect Rule. The policy was first introduced in Northern Nigeria under Lord Lugar, although it had been practiced before in India. Indirect rule was inspired by the belief that the European and the African were culturally distinct though not necessarily unequal, and that the institutions of government most suited to the latter were those which he had devised for himself.

However, the first attempt at development planning in English Speaking West Africa was the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1945. A ten-year plan initiated after the Second World War. The ten-year plans were however partial plans in that they consisted only of public sector capital expenditure programmer, mostly for expanding educational, health, transportation and communication facilities and modernizing the administrative framework and strengthening agricultural support services.

The general short-falls of this plan is immediately evidenced in its time span especially as this was an initial effort by a country which hardly had a development plan. In addition, the emphasis was on transportation which received the largest share in order to facilitate the extraction and export of agricultural products as well as promote the systematic penetration of the hinterland by British merchant firms and other business interest.

In Nigeria for instance, even though the majority of its population lived in the rural areas in 1946, the plan allocated more money to the urban centre 1 . It is important to note that after the Second World War in 1945, there was an emergence of two superpowers, The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) which brought about a new world order that foster the principle of national self-determinism and racial equality.

A development that turned West Africa into a strategic staging point for the allied forces and the allied propaganda which emphasizes democracy and the right of all people to hose whatever forms of government they would like to be under. This stimulated considerably political awakening in the country. As a result, British policies and practices were subject to critical scrutiny and virulent criticisms 2. At this time, the imperial power, Britain, had been weakened by the war .

Therefore during the twenty years after 1945, African nationalists, using the mass party and the mass meeting, awakened their docile peoples to press for independence. This internal and external heat led Britain to begin the policy of disconsolation. Britain began to grant Sierra-Leone and The Gambia. Nigeria gained independence in 1960, Sierra-Leone was self-governing by 1958 and gained independence in 1960, The Gambia gained independence in 1965, the British Gold Coast was allowed by Britain to self- government and in 1957, the Gold Coast was given independence under the name Ghanaian.

THE DILEMMA OF ADOPTING WESTERN DEVELOPMENT MODELS IN POST- COLONIAL BRITISH WEST AFRICA The west African economies dung the colonial period were dependent economies. This is further expounded by a theory called dependency theory. The theory is predicated on the notion that resources flow from a periphery’ of the poor and underdeveloped states to the “core” or “centre” of the wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the formerly 5. It is important to know that the ten-year-plan of the colonial era was channeled towards the actualization of this motive.

According to Dupe Ultrasound, commenting on the motive behind the introduction of the plan, he argued that after the Second World War, the colonial government realized that only by interfering in the organization of the primary and other activities could it remedy the acute shortage of export crops badly needed by its home markets. This was manifested in the activities of the colonial banks as the banks were developing monopolies to control competition at the expense of British West African people.

There were only two major banks that operated in British West Africa; Barclay and the Bank of British West Africa. They had great economic and financial influence over all of British West Africa from 1916-1960. From a dependency theory view point, these banks took advantage through price fixing and certain unfair regulations. From the above premise, it is obvious that the plan was hardly aimed at developing West Africa either economically or otherwise.

It did not show any intention of establishing popular and democratic institutions or a preparedness to involve the majority of the people in the planning of their lives and society. Its conceptualization and implementation were highly static, elitist, discriminatory and undisciplined. The projects had no linkages with one another and rather than improve the living standards of the people, the plan had an opposite effect. As such, any claim that the British colonial government developed West Africa either in terms of laying the foundation or achieving concrete development on behalf of the people must be illusory.

It is clear that the peripheral role and location of the West Africa formation today in the international division of labor, the existence of a weak and largely unproductive bourgeoisie, the co- existence of production (capitalist models), the existence of an unstable state and the generally low standards of living were the direct consequences of the colonial planning and policies which are being re-produced in the contemporary period.

The outward orientation of the West African economy, the absence of a technological base, the neo-colonial content of the educational system, the viciousness of the armed and security forces and the existence of inefficient and ineffective institutions are also products of colonial rule which deliberately emphasizes the interests of the metropolis at the expense of the colonized people. It was in this unhealthy relation that West African states gained independence. Thus, after independence, British West African states had to confront the challenges of development through various development plans.

Since independence, Nigeria has had four development plans; 1970-1971, 1975-1976, 1979-1980, Sierra-Leone; 1962-1963, 1971-1972, 1974-1975, 1978-1979, The Gambia; 1967-1968, 1970-1971, 1974-197518. While some of these plans are Short-range and Medium-range plans, others are Perspective and Rolling Plans. Although to an extent, there have been some signs of progress; these attempts have been fraught with difficulties that have emerged from the continued reliance on adopted western models inherited from their former colonial powers.

These development models have been rooted in the colonial development plans drawn up during the colonial period. It has been observed that the development plans of post-colonial government of British West Africa was focused on the development aims set by the previous colonial powers. In British West Africa, this has manifested itself in the unequal trade relations and the dependency structure. This view is supported by Professor Daddies. He explains that the post- colonial development plans have remained largely dependent on external trade, foreign technology, foreign enterprise and other stimuli.

He adds that the very strategies of development which African government have been pursuing since independent have come from theories derived from economic development which have been developed during colonial pattern of production in Africa. For instance, the second plan of Nigeria was criticized as the type of plan whose document were produced largely by an expatriate team without much local involvement and therefore less effective as a means of monopolizing domestic efforts. Even as a technical exercise, the database for planning was so defective that the principal architect of the plan, W.

F Stopper described the experience as “planning without facts”21. However, the post-colonial elites of the West African states accepted and absorbed a number of mythical notions about development and planning which were to influence thinking in post- Leonia era and consequently, these mythical notions and models laid down by the colonial powers were adopted by the new independent states of West Africa. These are: ; Planning had to be elitist in initiation and implementation; there was no need to involve the masses whose lives and future were being planned. Planning had to be heavily centralized and kept secret from the people because the decentralization of decision-making and executing institutions demands a level of political and power decentralization. ; For a plan to be successful, it must involve huge expenditure n all sorts of projects whether co-ordinate or not was a secondary matter and ; Planners must rely on foreign aid capital, technology and manpower. The problem of development planning in West Africa is also compounded by the practice of mixed economy system, a model which they do not fully understand.

Mixed economy is a compromise between the two economic systems; capitalism and socialism. It divides the economy into public and private sectors for the purpose of economic development. The primary aim of such planning in underdeveloped countries is to increase the growth rate of the economy, given the various limiting factors in such entries. For this, planning in a mixed economy envisages a high rate of capital formation through various monetary, fiscal and physical control measures; through foreign aid, exchange control and protective tariffs and through public and private investments so that the economy develops in a balanced way.

Unfortunately, the reverse is the case as these economic policies are dictated by the metropolis. This West African States are economically weak due to the lack of domestic economic capacity and weak social infrastructure following the colonial experience. As such, they are not fit to compete with developed states of the world. They are even made weaker by low export prices and significant terms of trade decline as well as the debt crisis and the burden of debt servicing. As a result of this, since independence, Brightness African states have faced the challenges of building a united, strong and self-reliant nation.

Thus, her core objectives since the drafting of development plans have centered on; ; Economic growth and the provision of infrastructure ; Increase in productivity and in the level of agricultural exports ; Increase in per- capita income Reduction In the level of unemployment and increase in the supply of high level manpower ; Balanced development Diversification of the economy and promotion of national economic independence in terms of creation of effective links between sectors of the economy so that development becomes mutually reinforcing 25.

To achieve these objectives, it was necessary for West African States to be integrated economically. COCOAS: A REQUISITE FOR NATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. The formation of COCOAS in 1975 rests on the believe that through economic integration, West African States can rely more on each other for supply of goods and services and less dependent on developed countries for industrial goods. On this basis, its primary objective was centered on a comprehensive effort which anticipates total economic and social integration of West African economies.

These objectives are to be met through nation-state projects and programmer. These nation-state projects are carried out to harness the resources of West Africa in order to enhance development. These projects require a lot of funding and West African States do not have these funds. This results to foreign aid. To finance development projects, West African states borrowed heavily from their former colonial powers. For instance, the First National Rolling Plan of Nigeria relied heavily, almost entirely on deficit financing.

The federal government was not only to borrow NON. Billion to finance its capital expenditure but an additional Inhibition to meet its recurrent expenditure, bringing the total deficit to a staggering NON. Billion. This was to be the genesis of the problems of West African states as the same applies to other British West Africa States. This aid created room for Britain influence in every sector of the economy; the currency/banking, agriculture, trade and industry. However, scholars like J.

C Anyway eave observed that the quest for foreign capital and the reliance on western colonial models for their economies led the majority of British West African states to come to terms with British hegemony. This further explains why West African countries till date are tied to the apron strings of their former colonial powers. Apart from funding, COCOAS was also confronted with the problem of low technology and undeveloped infrastructure; this to a large extent halted the proper functioning of the body.

Unequivocally, the objective of COCOAS was thwarted by its dependency structure, emanating from its colonial past. Owing to the differing colonial experiences of West African countries, the countries had more links with their former colonial administrators than with their neighboring West African States. Also, there was no levels of development by these states after independence created different development priorities. While Ghana concentrated its planning on the creation of import-substitute industries, Nigeria placed emphasis on comprehensive national planning.

This discrepancy in relation is also rooted in their colonial past. The colonial powers in West Rica: Britain, France and Portugal have influenced inconsiderably the pattern and growth of economic cooperation. The four former British colonies were not contiguous and were administered separately. The French speaking colonies on the other hand were Joined together in the federation of French West Africa and governed as one economic unit. This explains why the French West Africa is more integrated economically; this is evidenced in their common currency, SFA.

It is relevant to know that unlike French West Africa, British West Africa do not have a unified body for the control of monetary flow or the regulation of currencies ND fiscal policies except COCOAS. However, the creation of the Francophone Cosmonaut communique des Teats De lavaliere l’ Quest (CEASE, later became The Union communique et monetary Quest Francine (MEMO) after COCOAS, became a strong competitor with COCOAS and the powers of COCOAS as a unifying body began to wane 27.

WHY THE PLANS FAILED The adoption of the Western Models could not tackle the problems of development in British West Africa because the environment and circumstances of Britain and the colonized people is very different. The limitations of the development plans are quite enormous. First, in the immediate post-colonial era, the major challenge was that of political instability. The civil wars, coups and counter-coups, military take over and political rivalries drastically affected the proper planning of West African states.

Also, the fostering of despotic government and military regimes that manifested in personal interpretations of development agendas also ensured that programmer suffered epileptic attention. These challenges have greatly stalled the implementation of development plans. Development is not possible except in an environment of tranquility and stability. In addition, plans are poorly implemented. The greatest weakness of many plans in Africa has been the failure to translate the plan from paper into operational planning.

Aside this, the most common error in development planning is to project an impossibly high rate of growth and have a wrong priority. Failure to achieve the target in this case will no doubt be due to the failure of one or more sectors to develop as planned and this will in turn imply that consistency with other sectors has been lost, resulting in the imbalances that the plan was partly designed to avoid. The success of a development programmer rests ultimately on the availability of productive projects which determine the immediate scope for development.

Other impediments are: The lack of man-power skills or the availability of the necessary technical know-how, the non-existence of appropriate policies to integrate the development plans and lack of accurate or detailed information on the economy as a whole. Furthermore, the rate of borrowing and debt servicing is alarming for a developing nation. The neglect of rural development which is the major reason for the rural-urban migration is also another factor.

The most crucial set back of development plans in West Africa is the corrupt nature and practices of its leaders. The corrupt practices of West African leaders bring about in the new nations. It has been stressed that the existence off good plan is not enough as the basis for achieving development. There must be, in addition, a political leadership that has the vision, education, the will, the credibility and capacity to manage the process of change. Also, the lackadaisical attitude of the people is a contributing factor to the stagnation of the economy.

People are both the means and ends of development and for a nation to develop; both the people and leaders must work towards it. Thus, the more people develop themselves, the more they would become instruments for further change. According to Walter Rodney, Africans are saddled with the responsibility to understand the system for development and they should work towards its actualization and not against it. CONCLUSION From the foregoing, there is no doubt that the purpose of colonization was purely for economic prosperity of the metropolis and the subjugation of the subject.

Thus, after independence, the major challenge of the modern states was to break the colonial economic system inherited at independence. Under the colonial economy, these states remained predominantly producers of raw materials for the manufacturing industries of the colonial powers and consumers of their manufactured goods. These unequal trade and fiscal policies dictated by the metropolis led to the balance of payment deficit by the African states and consequently, depended on the economy of the western world to survive.

The consequence of this in modern time is that West African states are unequally integrated into the world system and are currently the losers of globalization. To break away from this dilemma, West African countries came up with different development plans which now seem like a mirage, working against that which it was created for. Hopefully, COCOAS was formed to mitigate these problems but obviously, the body was incapable of solving the problem as it was itself confronted with several problems and its functionality began to wane.

Apart from the adoption of Western models, other reasons for the failure of development plans are: political instability in the immediate post-colonial era, lack of proper implementation of plans, lack of man-power, heavy borrowing and debt servicing, rural neglect, lackadaisical attitude of the people and lastly, the corrupt practices of leaders. It is however recommended that for the success of any development plan and for proper use of resources, there is a need for discipline in leadership.

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