China’s rising power is based on its remarkable economic success.
Shanghai’s overall economy is currently growing at around 13% per year,
thus doubling in size every five or six years. Everywhere there are
start-ups, innovations, and young entrepreneurs hungry for profits.
In a series of high level meetings between chinese and African officials,
the advice that the African leaders received from the Chinese was sound,
and more practical than they typically get from the World Bank.
Chinese officials stress the crucial role of public investments,
especially in agriculture and infrastructure, to lay the basis for
private sector-led growth. In a hungry and poor rural economy, as
China was in the 1970s and as most of Africa is today, a key starting
point is to raise farm productivity.
Farmers need the benefits of fertilizer, irrigation and high-yield seeds,
all of which were a core part of China’s economical take off.
Two other equally critical investments are also needed :
roads and electricity, without which there cannot be a modern economy.
Farmers might be able to increase their output, but it won’t be able to
reach the cities, and the cities won’t be able to provide the
countryside with inputs.
The government has taken pains to ensure that the electricity grids
and transportation networks reach every village in China.
China is prepared to help Africa in substantial ways in agriculture,
roads, power, health and education. And that is not an empty boast.
Chinese leaders are prepared to share new high yield rice varieties,
with their African counterparts and, all over Africa, China is
financing and constructing basic infrastructure.
This illustrates what is wrong with the World Bank.
The World Bank has often forgotten the most basic lessons of development,
preferring to lecture the poor and force them to privatise basic
infrastructure, which is untenable, rather than to help the poor
to invest in infrastructure and other crucial sectors.
The Banks’s failure began in the early 1980s when under the
ideological sway of them American President and British Prime
Minister it tried to get Africa and other poor regions to cut back
or close down government investments and services.
For 25 years, the bank tries to get governments out of agriculture,
leaving impoverished peasants to fend for themselves.
The result has been a disaster in Africa, with farm productivity
stagnant for decades. The bank also pushed for privatization of
national health systems, water utilities, and road and power networks,
and has grossly underfinanced these critical sectors.
This extreme free-market ideology, also called “structural adjustment”,
went against the practical lessons of development successes in China
and the rest or Asia. Practical development strategy recognises that
public investments - in agriculture, health, education, and
infrastructure- are necessary complements to private investments.
The World Bank has instead wrongly seen such vital public investments
as an enemy of private sector development.
Whenever the banks’ ideology failed, it has blamed the poor for
corruption, mismanagement, or lack of initiative.
Instead of focusing its attention on helping the poorest countries to
improve their infrastructure, there has been a crusade against corruption.
The good news is that African governments are getting the massage on
how to spur economic growth and are getting crucial help from China
and other partners that are less wedded to extreme free-market ideology
than the world Bank.
They have declared their intention to invest in infrastructure,
agriculture modernistation, public health, and education.
It is clear the Bank can regain its relevance only if it becomes
practical once again, by returning its focus to financing public
investments in priority sectors.
If that happens, the Bank can still do justice to the bold vision of
a world of shared prosperity that prompted its creation after
World War II.
Ques. The author’s main objective in writing the passage is to