Has Capitalism failed in Africa?
That’s what someone asserted to me the other night over drinks and dinner. As the sole conservative at a table of 5, I had listened quietly for about half an hour to a lot of bluster while trying to steer the conversation back to something a bit less controversial. Then I lost it.
Really! I shouted (note: I’m not really a shouting kind of guy) across the table. Where?!
The silence was deafening.
Now, I have to admit I’m no Africa expert, but I was fairly sure that most African nations were not especially capitalist. Sure enough, the countries of Africa don’t exactly head up the list of Economic freedom . In fact I asserted, the only countries I knew of that respected property rights and didn’t have massive government interference in their economies seemed to be doing better than the rest (South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria). In fact, my guess is that the lower on the index you find them the worse their economy (generally true as it turns out). That is hardly some scathing rebuke of capitalism; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. If anything is failing over there, it’s kleptocracies and central planning.
My real question is where do these people get ideas like this? They seem harmless enough on the surface, but I’m concerned that ignorance and assumptions on this subject (ooh, capitalism is bad in Africa) lead to more distrust of capitalism in general, but without any basis in fact. So here was a table where 4 of 5 reasonably well paid people working for an entrepreneurial company really thought that capitalism was failing. As a business owner – and their employer – I’m more than a bit concerned about this. I’m not really sure what to do about it, but you can rest assured I’ll start by defending my viewpoint vigorously in the future.
4 months ago