Rural Development Decentralisation Policy …the ideal strategies for speedy development in African countries
Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia Prime Minister of the Second Republic of Ghana of blessed memory, introduced a brilliant strategy for the development of the rural areas in Ghana; and backed this strategy with the imposition of a rural development levy for its implementation and operation, when he led the erstwhile Progress Party(P.P.) to win the 1969 general elections.
Clearly, a critical analysis and evaluation of this development strategy without any prejudice or bias whatsoever, this brainchild of Busia was the best for Ghana and the rest of Africa at that period of time; and it is still significant and relevant at the present time as far as economic growth and development are concerned in African countries.
Unfortunately, for Ghana, this brilliant development strategy could not see the light of the day as Dr. Abrefa Busia and his Progress Party government was overthrown in a military coup de tat on January 13, 1972, led by Colonel I.K. Acheampong of blessed memory.
It is a fact that Ghana, the star of Africa, has virtually neglected the development of the rural areas since attaining political freedom from British colonial rule on 6th March,1957.
Although one may argue that, the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory did something significant in terms of developing the rural areas such as the Akosombo Dam and township, the Kade Matches Factory, Bonso Rubber Factory Komenda Sugar Plantation Factory etc.
Clearly and indisputably, these genuine efforts of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah was quantitatively and qualititatively inadequate in comparison to Euro-America, Asia rural developments.
Generally, Ghana and the rest of the African countries are found wanting in terms of rural development. African countries have the tendency of concentrating development in the cities and urban areas, and neglecting the rural areas.
This is a bane in development in African countries after attaining political independence from European colonial rule and exploitation. And this unpleasant situation must be reversed now so that African countries can experience a speedy healthy economic growth, development and prosperity.
There are a number of factors that are imperative for the need for development of the rural areas in African countries in order to induce and promote fast economic growth, development and prosperity. These are socio-economic.
Starting from Ghana, the rural areas in African countries are virtually empty without the availability of job opportunities to engage the teeming youth who have received formal education in the first, second and tertiary cycles of Ghana’s education delivery system.
Thus, the youth become idle without any means of employment.
As result, they flock to the cities and urban areas in search of jobs which are often scarce to get. Employments and jobs had been taken by the already densed population of the urban and cities setup.
Consequently, the youth who flock to the urban and cities areas resort to all kinds of criminal activities in order to survive, such as gambling, pick-pocketing, armed robbery, drugs, alcoholism, misuse of the internet to persue “Sakawa” activities which lure and victimize unsuspecting and innocent big business men and women locally and internationally.
Young women idling in the urban and cities without jobs or any means of employment often take to street work.
The cities and urban areas become heavily populated and choked with the influx of the youth who make these areas more accentuated in density of people that become unpleasant and unbearable.
Thus, slums are eventually created which are characterized with all sorts of immoralities and low standard of living styles.
Filthy environments are thus created as these places are chocked with people. Consequently, insanitary conditions develop as there are no social amenities such as incinerators and toilet facilities.
There is often outbreaks of epidemic diseases such as cholera, HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, etc which afflict the people in these slummy areas.
Typical examples of these slummy areas in Accra, the capital city of Ghana is the old Fadama, popularly referred to as “Sodom and Gommorah”,some parts of Nima, Mamobi suburbs of Accra.
In Nigeria, the well known slums of Lagos well known as “Agege” are also example of the numerous slums existing in the capital cities and urban areas in African countries.
As stated earlier, these slummy parts of the cities and urban areas in African countries are frought with all types of criminals and criminal activities; and heavily chocked with people of questionable characters. These areas become the breeding grounds for all kinds of evil practices and immoralities that one can imagine!
These areas in African countries constitute a big burden and a challenge to economic and development planners for economic growth and development in African countries.
When jobs and employment are available and easy to get as a result of developed urban and cities areas in African countries it will go a long way to ease the hitherto dense population in these areas and their attendant problems that had been mentioned in the foregoing.
This will definitely bring about a fast growth of African countries’ economies and consequently bring about high levels of development and prosperity to African countries.
I reiterate the fact that the slummy areas in African cities and urban areas had been the perennial bane and havoc to the economic growth and development of the African continent to compare favourably to Euro-America and Asia; although there are other major factors that are accountable for this unpleasant state of affairs in Africa as far as economic growth and development are concerned.
In conclusion, I state categorically with conviction that it is necessary that the rural areas in African countries must be developed to a certain reasonable level to offset the present big disparity that exists between rural parts of Africa and the cities and the urban areas and those of Euro-America and Asia.
This should be given priority attention by the various government systems of African countries in order to depart from the hitherto tendency to ignore and neglect development of the rural areas.
Furthermore, there is also the need to adopt decentralization policy alongside rural development strategies. And certainly, African countries will witness unprecedented significant improvements in their aspirations to experience high economic growth development and prosperity in the forseeable future from now.
BY MICHAEL AKENOO