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Why Africa’s underdevelopment will continue, by U.S. diplomat


Aerial view of buildings and markets on Lagos Island.

The economic under-development of Africa and third world nations would continue until the global economic design, which is deliberately made to keep poor nations down changes, a development Economist, Brian Browne has said.

He stated this at the 90th birthday lecture in honour of Professor Adetowun Ogunsheye, the first woman professor in Nigeria and the first African woman to graduate from the Ivy-league University of Cambridge, held in Ibadan, Oyo State recently.

It was organised by Ogunsheye’s colleagues in ‘Atayese,’ a Yoruba organisation that believes in the redirection of the lot of Nigerians.


In his lecture titled: “What Will Save us From the Injustice of Mainstream Economics?” he argued that only a conscious effort by the developed nations could change the wrongs that have “relegated so much of humanity to poverty and despair.”

Browne, a columnist with the Nation newspaper and a career diplomat whose last African posting was American Consul General to Nigeria, co-authored the famous book, ‘Financialism’, with the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The book depicts how misleading conventional economic thinking can lead to bad policy decisions and underdevelopment using examples from the United States and Nigeria.

Explaining the nature of the financial and economic crises that had bedevilled poor nations of the world, he said the system was such that the poor nations were held down in all respects.

“Ten of the world’s richest people hold more wealth than the 3.6 billion people who constitute the poorest half of humanity. The world produces more food than at any point in history yet one in every 10 people struggles against dire poverty and imminent hunger. Meanwhile, tons of edible food are discarded and burned on a daily basis.

“Affluent people have amassed so much wealth that they can afford to visit outer space in their own craft. Yet, billions of people live as their distant ancestors did, using the same rudimentary farm implements to till barren soil to eke out a hard scratch existence. The cell phones that have pierced into these areas are but trinkets to gull people into believing they are of the modern world when that world has left them far behind,” he said.

Browne noted that it was only a conscious understanding of the nature of the underdevelopment that could break the cycle of want and poverty.

“Try as they might, African nations cannot break the hold that poverty and rich nations have on them. African nations have basically done whatever they are told by the economic masters. You opened your markets to free trade. Instead of benefiting, you lost the small control you had over your economic life. You integrated into their financial system and banks like them. The more banks you build, the more you fall into debt that takes you farther away from the development you want,” he said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Tokunbo Ajasin said that ‘Atayese’ recognised the contributions of Ogunsheye and thought it wise to celebrate her on the attainment of such a significant age and enjoined the Yoruba to come to terms with the objectives of the organisation.

He bemoaned the state of the Nigerian economy which he said had been so bastardized, pulverized and looted to the extent that over 80 per cent of Nigerians now live below the poverty line stating that the Yoruba organisation, ‘Atayese’, believes that now more than ever is the time to think out of the box, saying, “we cannot continue to do things the same way over the years and expect a different result.”


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