Political change and upheavels dominated the economics throughout sub Saharan african in 1976, a trend certain to continue this year.
The growing political traumas, especially in Southern Africa, further burdened young governments still struggling to overcome the recent worldwide recession and inflation, oil price increases and raw materials price drips.
The majority of governmetns, independent only since the early '60s, also do not yet have the sophisticated infrastructure to push significant expansion. Among the basic problems that prevent independent development:
Transportation: a lack of railways, ports and road systems to transport products within the country and to neighboring countries. The network in Africa was designed by colonial powers for export abroad and not to serve other African states.
Markets: again geared to shipment abroad, with little focus on regional coordination or needs. Many countries are dependent on a single crop, producing too much for local consumption and&or unable to channel the raw materials into finished products.
Absence of technical and human resources: Many countries do not have the knowhow or numbers to support a move from agrarian to profitable and efficiemt industrial-based economies.
Population control: Soaring population growth surpasses increases in the gross national product. Birth control by and large has not made headway in Black Africa due to tribal customs that promote large families.
Weather: The success or failure of agriculture-based economies is often controlled by the amount of rain. The northern Sahelian states, for example, suffered a devasting famine during the recent drought.
The inability to provide answers for these problems has led the State Department to list only 15 African countries as economically viable (not perpetually dependent on external aid) within 20 years. They are Nigeria, Kenye, Angola, Zaire, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, SUdan, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, Gabon, Cameroon, Gunea, Liberia and Rhodesia. but again, a stable political situation is important, and the lack of it could prevent achievement of a higher degree of self-suffieciency within this time frame.
Perhaps the single most important boost Black African recently received was the signing of the Lome Convention, an agreement between 19 African countries and the European Economic Community which eliminates the previous trade preferences for European exports.
The convention also will provide a commodity stabilization program, participation in the European Development Fund, and special concessions and trade arrangements for underdeveloped countries according to Robert Duncan, a State Department economist specializing in Africa.
But the political situation remains the major factor determining the sources and type of investment and foreign aid available, and instability could negate all steps toward economic growth.
Economic growth and greater independence in the short term will depend largely on the ability of regions to work together to coordinate manufacturing, and to provide larger markets for the smaller countries. The regional breakdown is as follows: Southern Africa
Political and military conflicts in Southern Africa have left the region's black nations in economic shambles, despite the great potential in most of the subcontinent's states.
Mineral-rich Angola and Mozambique, the two former Portuguese colonies that gained independence in 1975, would be destitute without massive injections of emergency aid from their socialist allies. Their problems have had an impact on the entire area.
The continuing guerilla war in Angola has prevented reopening of the [TEXT OMMITED FROM SOURCE]
Angola's new socialist government has not been able yet to get cooperation in its northern province, until earlier last year under the control of a pro-Western liberation movement, to harvest the vital coffee crop, one of Angola's major sources of foreign exchange. And the guerilla campaign in the south by a second pro-Western group, Unita, has prevented cultivation of the secondary crops used to feed the country's 5.7 million inhabitants.
Mozambique's economic woes also multiplied last year, after President Samora Machel closed the border with Rhodesia and imposed sanctions on March 3, cutting off a major source of foreign exchange from transportation links. as a result, the government is even more reliant on South Africa for imports and use of its ports and railways.
Again almost ironically, the white minority government in Rhodesia, despite international sanctions for more than a decade, has done better than any of its neighbors. The only African country with a higher increase in per capita largely due to oil, according to the World Bank Atlas.
The only other white-ruled country, South Africa, had a bad year, due to the dramatic fall in gold prices, unemployement, overexpenditures on development and defense programs, and inflation - compounded by six months of sputtering on-off racial violence that led foreign investors and multinational corporations to reconsider their plans.
The East African Community
The three-naiton alliance of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda appears to be on the verge of collapse due to rising political tensions. In many ways, the EAC is an unnatural alliance anyway, with Tanzania a poor socialist state, Kenya one of the most developed and industrialized capitalist countries on the continent, and Uganda running down quickly under an erratic policy based largely on the whims of President Idi Amin, State Department economists claimed.
Since [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the community has shared transportation facilities, a common currency base, duty-free trade, a development bank and regional expansion projects. But the political conflicts and rivalries among all three have resultedd in a near-breakdown in efficiency and cooperation.
Kenya is locking to go it alone, while Tanzania views a southern alliance with Zambia, Mozambique and eventually Zimbabwe as a more compatible long-term alliance.
Kenya has niot been as severely hit by oil price increases as other African states because of its own refinery that saves costs, according to Duncan. And increasing coffee prices have helped the balance of payments situation. foreign investors remain enthusiastic about Kenya, Sate Department figures show.
Tanzania's ujamas (collective farms) still have not paid the expected dividends due to opposition from tribes forced to resettle and to logistical reorganisation problems, leaving the country one of the east developed in Africa despite a thoughtful attempt to restructure the cronial infrasturcture.
Under Amin, the Uganda economy has became increasingly troubled. Export industries have floudered since all non-citizen Asian were expelled in 1972, and mass takeovers of foreign firms without compensation led to sharply reduced output last year. West Africa
There are only two countries in the western region in a healthy economic state: Nigeria, Africa's overwhelming economic power because of its oil, and the Ivny Coast, because of recent agricultural diversification.
Several others such as Cameron, Guinea and Ghana have the potential, but have not been able to develop because of the basic problems that plague the entire continent and because of mismanagement, according to Duncan.
But a new union established last year, the 14-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), should offer relief in the near future for several of the smaller, one-crop countries.
ECOWAS is modeled after the European Common Market, opening new markets, lowering import tariffs and promoting regional cooperation and planning so that countries such as Ghana, with its domiinant cocoa crop, would not be forced to look exclusively to overseas buyers. The Sahel
The northern countries covered by Saharan desert, all former French colonies which serve as the line dividing Arab from balck Africa, have begun to make a comeback from the devastating drought that left hundreds of thousands destitute and starving.
Emergency programs and rains have relieved the famine condition. But it still will take the large doses of foreign aid to put the economies of Upper Volta, Chad, Mali, Niger and Mauritania back on their feet and to develop programs that will prevent another wipe-out from the cyclical dry periods.