Africa’s Integration Imperative

Sub-Saharan Africa’s historical legacy of artificial and unmanageable colonial boundaries, ethnic antagonisms, and an appalling record of leadership failures has hampered its quest for economic integration. But a sector-by-sector approach, beginning with energy, could mitigate these handicaps.

Karl Marx predicted that states would wither away in anticipation of an idyllic communist society capable of auto-regulating economic imbalances and empowering the masses. So he would have been flabbergasted to see his prophecy realized, not by communism, but by the globalization of Anglo-American economic liberalism. Opening up markets to the free flow of capital, not the dictatorship of the proletariat, has rendered state power obsolete.

Today’s capital markets raise money for governments, corporate clients, and individual customers, manage pension funds’ investments, and bet on the level of interest rates or the stock market. Trading in derivatives by investment banks, hedge funds, and other market participants, reaps huge profits for traders while depriving the real economy of productive investment and job creation.

No population in the world is spared from the harsh treatment of such a system. Some 40% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in poverty, and a sixth live in extreme poverty. However, the world’s black populations are the prime victims. In the United States, one-eighth of all black males between the ages of 25 and 34 are in jail, and three out of five black American households with children are headed by a single mother.

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