Underdevelopment: The Democratic Republic Of Congo
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Most of African countries are underdeveloped, and according to theories of modernization factors such as population, traditional agrarian structure, and illiteracy, low division of labor, poor infrastructure and communication. For development to take place there has to be change in these factors for example the rate of population growth has to change, infrastructure has to be improved and so on. Countries in the world are ranked in terms of development from the most to the least developed and each country has its position. In that regard, Democratic Republic of Congo ranks among the underdeveloped countries in the world.
According to Theodore, (2009) The Democratic Republic of Congo earlier known as Zaire is the biggest nation in Africa. This country is rich in valuable natural resources, which include petroleum, cobalt, diamond, and copper. Since its independence in 1960, the country knows not what true democracy is. It has been faced with prolonged civil and ethnic strife. This has led to political, economic, and social instability all over the country, making this country to remain underdeveloped despite its wealth in natural resources. Mining and exportation of diamond, copper, cobalt and other resources have greatly contributed to internal conflicts.
According to Hope (2004) civil war started as early as after the independence; however, the United Nations intervened on a peacekeeping mission. The country experienced thirty-six years of conflict from 1964 to 1997 when Mobutu Sese Sekou was overthrown from presidency by the present President Kabila forces. Though the neighboring countries came, in to support restores peace in the country but this has not been a success as these countries also show interests in getting a share of the wealth got from mining of these resources. The peace deal signed in 1999 by the concerned parties did not stop the civil war (Udombana, 2000).
Political situation of the country has been a major contribution to the countries underdevelopment. Countries that are developed or developing normally are good democracies. The rule of the people by the people, political stability is very critical in providing room for change in the factors that cause underdevelopment. Contrary to democratic rule, the country experienced seen a long dictatorial regime during the era of Mobutu Sese Seko. Underdevelopment was fuelled by the fact that power was concentrated to the president. The government institutions were stifled and their role was to rubber stamp orders from above. Compromising the role played by institutions is a major hindrance to the path of development. The dictatorial regime controlled all the corporations and every aspect of the administration. This contributed to the countries underdevelopment in that decisions were centralized and in a top down approach. Since the country was had one party, the dictator took advantage of his power to make sure that only those who were in support and loyal to the party become CEOs, directors and union leaders (Lubeck, 1992). This led to mismanagement of public institutions and much looting at the expense of poor citizens widening the gap between the rich and the poor.
When president Kabila was elected many thought that the country was on the road to democracy. However, the regime maintained the status quo in that the president had legislative. Executive and military powers vested in him. This kind of a government structure does not give full support of development because the executive is not accountable for any omission or commission in any act regarding the country. After the assignation of Kabila in 2001, his son Kabila took over with the objective of developing the country. The transition constitution has greatly contributed in determining the structure and organization of the country's institutions helping put them back on development track. The constitution has also caused devolution of powers between the central and provinces governments.
From the economic perspective, the Democratic Republic of Congo is economically underdeveloped compared to other countries in Africa and all over the world. Democratic Republic Congo is very rich in valuable minerals and favorable climate that can spur economic growth to great height however, the country is still underdeveloped mainly due to the political instability of the country. Economic development is what causes an increase in the living standards of a country's' population. In Congo the citizens, live in poor conditions despite the presence of mining firms in the country the citizens earn very little wages, which translates into poor quality of life (Mbaku, 2004).
Though there has been several economic development plans set as early as 1982 the expenditure called for in the development of infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, and light industry is never reached due to economic difficulties. One main challenge to economic development in the country is the overdependence on petroleum at the expense of other industries. The country has not succeeded in boosting those economic activities that do not mainly rely on imports. Despite the favorable climate sector such as agriculture have been neglected. Thus, the income earned in exportation of minerals is used to import food supplies.
Overreliance on international aid is a major bottleneck to economic development in the country (Porter, & Craig 2004). Countries such as China, Soviet Union, and France provided significant aid with France being the leading donor. Although international aid is normally given to spur economic development, countries that relies much on foreign aid face economic challenges when the donors withdraw or fail to give what such countries expected. The political instability in the country has made many donors to withdraw their pledges put strain on the Congo's economy, which is a combination of industrial sector relying on petroleum mining, traditional agriculture and services.
Congo's economy has however, made substantial progress mainly because of the reforms. The country has taken measures to liberalize the economy through investment, hydrocarbons, and tax reforms. However, not all these reforms have succeeded some are yet to be felt by neither the common citizens on the ground nor the investors. Plans to privatize main parastatals the transportation and telecommunication monopolies, was a good one that would have helped improve unreliable and dilapidated infrastructure. Nevertheless, the plans were never implemented and the state of telecommunication and infrastructure is still very poor. To achieve economic development the country needs to make serious moves towards economic stabilization through restructuring external debt and public finances improvement.
In the late 1990, the country was back on track in terms of economic development with major economic reforms. However, this later hindered by several external and internal factors that followed. For example, in 1998 the oil prices slumped put much strain on the country's budget deficit. Armed conflict broke out in the same year straining the economic prospects, which chiefly depend on political stability (Booth, 1985). The country has to make the investment climate remains unfavorable making many investors to shy away from investing in the country. Investor's especially foreign investors have in many countries contributed to spur the economic growth of these countries.
Slater (1993) argues that development from the social perspective refers to qualitative changes in the society structure and functioning, in a bid to achieve the objectives better. To attain social development there has to be increased awareness that will lead to better organizations. In the Democratic Republic of Congo from the social perspective is poorly developed. The structure and functioning of the society is poor there is need to create awareness among the Congolese to help create better organizations. This will help improve their living standards, health, education and other quality life measures. Education levels and access to facilities such as hospitals in the country is still very poor (Brohman, 1996). Most of the citizens are either illiterate or only have basic education. The political instability has played a significant role in hindering human development this further deters social development.
Political instability of the country has caused major social injustices; social development takes place in societies that have democratic rule and freedom. This freedom promotes creativity and invention for the betterment of a society. The social welfare in the country has for a long time been compromised, the economic gains only benefit a few who are in power. Women have over the year's fallen victims of social injustices from rape especially during conflicts to discrimination in the job market. The country has failed to provide social services such as security and health care to its population. Social services are not equally distributed in the country (Harrison, 2005).
It is no doubt that The Democratic Republic of Congo is an underdeveloped country despite its wealth in valuable resources. Political instability has been the main challenge to a successful economic development strategy. The country has poor transportation networks, which is still a major challenge to economic development. The country needs major reforms be on the development track. To achieve overall development the country must not overlook any of the development perspectives (Simon, 2003). The political development is crucial for any development or growth to take place. It is through political stability and democratic rule that lead to the development of other sectors such as economic, social and technological.
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