Mozambique - Future trends

The economic and political trends that have characterized Mozambican development since the peace accords of 1992 are symptomatic of the larger trends that have prevailed throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. In the main, SAPs have failed to solve the longstanding problems of unemployment, mass poverty, balance of payments deficit, insecure informal employment, debt, inequality, and lack of access to essential social services. In many cases, these problems have actually been exacerbated by inappropriate policies, such as reckless privatization and trade liberalization. Although the country experienced a considerable rate of growth throughout the 1990s, much of this growth has disproportionately benefited a small minority of business elites, and can be attributed to the termination of the civil war and the massive increase in foreign investment. As for the latter factor, it is debatable how beneficial a role FDI will play in the development of the Mozambican economy.

Politically, the cessation of the civil war and the more or less successful integration of RENAMO into the political system represents a positive development. If the economic situation as experienced by the vast majority of the Mozambican populace continues to deteriorate, however, the sustainability of the democratic process might be jeopardized. Already, the U.S. State Department has warned that political unrest and discontent are increasing in the country. The IMF and World Bank's recently touted Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative—which substantially reduces the debt and debt-servicing obligations of severely poor nations—is a first step in the reformation of the largely negative role that the IFIs have played in sub-Saharan economies. It will take much more than this initiative, however, to dramatically alter the course of development of African countries. True development will not occur until free-market panaceas (cure-alls) are discarded and a more contextual development scheme—one which possibly includes a strong role for the state—is promoted by the international community.

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