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5 Political Liberty

Is political liberty consistent with economic development? A negative correlation will justify the Kigali [Rwanda] Success and the Chinese Model. Some of the ongoing debates among African economists, discussed earlier, support the implied hypothesis that democracy, at least in developing economies, is inhibiting to economic progress. In Sen's work, and in line with the focus of this paper, we see the argument in a different way: that political freedom is a component of economic development, and not a mere driver (explanatory variable) of it! To coin a phrase, political freedom, as indeed freedoms of all sorts, is endogenous to economic development!

6 Trust in National Governments in Africa

No trust in leadership can germinate in a governance environment where the leadership is consistently 'morgue'—brain dead!—and consistently obtains failed grades in governance, no matter how fast the economy is growing. This situation of failed leadership is shown in Fig. 5. On the core measures of political liberty, The Democracy Index, only 10 ECOWAS countries are ranked at all, among the 186 countries on this component, and as Fig. 6 shows, only half of the 10 countries recorded some gains; the other half lost in ranks.

7 Civil Liberties, Education and Economic Security

When compared to the rest of the world, ECOWAS countries are behind in basic education, measured by the mean years of schooling, illustrated in Fig. 7. The mean-years-of-schooling in ECOWAS is 3.4 years with an HDI of 0.42, whereas the world averages for these measures are 7.5 years and 0.69 respectively.

For ECOWAS, there is no comfort either, in some of the other forms of freedoms, including Press Freedom. ECOWAS countries appear to be on the cliff here, as indicated in Fig. 8, where virtually all of them lost in the rankings, often precipitously.

8 The Power of Freedom to Bring About Development

As mentioned earlier, Sen (2001) claimed that no major famine has occurred in societies with regular polls, flourishing opposition parties, and free media. This is a testimony to the “protective power of political liberty”, Sen (2001, p. 507). The weak form of this claim holds for high income, advanced democratic societies while the strong form will hold even in economies with pervasive poverty and food insecurity. A proof of this hypothesis is the case of post-independence democratic India compared to an authoritarian government in China. In the former, the last known major famine occurred in Bengal in 1943 (4 years before independence from Britain). In the latter, the most fatal famine in history was experienced in 1959–

Fig. 5 Distribution of governance grades. Source: Omosegbon and Okeke (2014), Fig. 4

Fig. 6 ECOWAS Democracy Index, '08–'09 and '11–'12. Source: Campbell et al. (2013)

1962, with an estimated extra mortality of up to 30 million perishing (Sen 2001). In Africa, the 1983–1985 famine is the last major one of its kind in Ethiopia, and especially since the country moved to parliamentary democracy and the devolution of governance to the regions. Recorded history of famine and food insecurity in Ethiopia dates back to antiquity and remained so until 1994, a period characterized by royal autocracy and military dictatorship. The country became a republic with the adoption of a democratic constitution in December, 1994 (Wikipedia 2014).

Figure 9 shows a combination of three social integration indices, Satisfaction with Community, SWC, Trust in National Governments, TING and Perception of Safety, PoS. Now, if a society does not do well in these categories, it seems that development seen in terms of how many cars are driven or how expensive are

Fig. 7 Basic education. Source: United Nations Development Program (2014b). Table 1: Human Development Index and its components

Fig. 8 Change in press freedom rank in ECOWAS 2014. Source: Campbell et al. (2013)

homes is devoid of a true and fulfilling life. Here, again, ECOWAS members are not performing to par with the rest of the world and certainly not any different from the poor showing of their cousins in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Fig. 9 Social Integration Indices. Source: United Nations Development Program (2014a). Table 9: Social integration. SWC Satisfaction with community, TING Trust in National Government, PoS Perception of safety

 
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