Equating capitalism with colonialism, Africa’s nationalist leaders rejected it and adopted socialism in the 1960s. Foreign companies were nationalized, a string of state-owned enterprises was established and a plethora of state controls on rent, prices, imports, and foreign exchange were imposed to capture the commanding heights of the economy. But nowhere in Africa was the socialist experiment successful.
It was a miserable fiasco in country after country including Angola (under dos Santos), Benin (under Kerekou), Ethiopia (under Mengistu), Ghana (under Nkrumah), Guinea (under Toure), Mali (under Keita), Mozambique (under Chissano), Tanzania (under Nyerere), and Zambia, among others.
In 1961, workers on Ghana state farms barely produce enough to feed themselves let alone the nation. In Tanzania, Ujamaa destroyed the country’s agriculture. Ethiopia’s misguided villagization program did the same.
Zimbabwe socialist experiment ended in disaster, transforming the country which used to be called the breadbasket of the region into a net food importer, with millions facing starvation. Over 4 million fled the country into neighboring countries such as Botswana, South Africa, and Mozambique. Tragically, South Africa is gearing up to repeat these catastrophic mistakes.
Below is Professor George Ayittey’s presentation on the topic at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. on March 11, 2019.
George Ayittey is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute; Founder and President of the Free Africa Foundation; and formerly a Distinguished Economist in Residence at American University. He is the author of numerous op-eds for the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. He writes columns for African-owned publications including The African Letter, African Continent News, Africa News Weekly, and African Forum. His books include “Africa in Chaos,” “Indigenous African Institutions,” “The Blueprint for Ghana’s Economic Recovery,” and “Africa Betrayed.”