HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsNurturing, not repressing, ideas vital for development

Nurturing, not repressing, ideas vital for development

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The greatest loss of our time is not only in the economic capital dissipated by the political madness in the past 10 years which left the country as poor as never imagined.

It’s not only in the bad image of the country that has affected the veracity of its intelligent and hard-working people.

It’s not only in the many years of investment in skilled manpower and brains that have left the country in search of better living conditions.

It is not only in the time lost while waiting for things to improve. It’s been a long decade of waiting. Ideas, plans and capital have expired while in the shelves hoping one day things would improve.

This greatest loss has also been in the millions of ideas contributed to the national development discourse but have suffered stillbirth due to the impervious and infertile political environment. It is just impotent to new ideas.

Ask any person next to you what they would want to do if all things were equal.

You will be amazed by the response. We don’t have a shortage of ideas, neither is there a lack of potential nor commitment to pursue them, but regrettably the environment is arid and stifles creativity and the art of thinking.

Where new ideas were allowed to proliferate, Strive Masiwa’s mobile telecommunication efforts dominated Africa and Nigel Chanakira’s banking tentacles spread across the region. These are just a few examples.

Human capital is not only in the value of labour, but in the ability to nurture intellect and new ideas to make use of available natural resources to propel development.

It’s better to be wise than strong, for the wise can use the strong to build their empire. Because of lack of wisdom or rather lack of freedom to express ideas, very low levels of industrial innovation and creativity, the abundant natural resources such as land and minerals are unable to transform into a vibrant processing industry.

The top 50 most developed countries in the world do not have any natural resources to match their economic power except that they are wise enough to have allowed innovation of ideas and investment in industrialisation as a key to economic development, high employment and very low levels of poverty.

The three strata of human development index (developed, developing and underdeveloped countries) are determined by the conversation of resources and ideas into industrial capital, observes Nirvana Coaching in a recent call for Africans to industrialise or remain poorest and the least developed.

The least developed countries’ economies like Zimbabwe are based on strength of natural resources in which the biggest labour force is found, thereby becoming the highest exporters of primary products but due to lack of wisdom still have the highest unemployment.

They do not have industrial use of their natural resources resulting in low employment, low government revenue, pushing them to over-borrow subsequently trapping their people in abject and perpetual poverty.

The Nirvana Coaching argues that an economy based on the agricultural sector and the extraction of natural resources alone without industrialisation sustains poverty, cheap labour and a primitive livelihood of a people.

Japan is one of the leading global economies with the world’s second-largest steel producer in volume and the second most profitable steel company in the world, but doesn’t have iron ore or coal as natural resources.

It is also the second largest motor vehicle producer after China, with Toyota as the largest motor vehicle manufacturing group in the world, but Japan does not have a single raw material for the automotive industry, apart from fish.

Japan boasts of the most lucrative electronics industry in the world, with most of the resources imported.

According to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), South Korea is the eighth largest exporter in the world after China, but South Korea is a country with the least natural resources, just like Singapore.

Israel, on the other hand, doesn’t have extensive land, but produces the best irrigation and is the leading producer of greenhouse technology.

The top 10 global chocolate producing companies are found in non-cocoa producing countries in Europe, the US and Asia.

The major cocoa producers are the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon but the main chocolate exporters in the world are all European, with the four largest, according to WTO statistics, being Germany (US$1,5 billion exports in 2003), Belgium ($1,4 billion), France ($856 million) and the Netherlands ($821 million).

Before Zimbabwe’s recent discovery, diamonds were mined primarily in Botswana, Russia, South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Canada.

Belgium and Israel are leading exporters of cut diamonds because they produced the best diamond technology in the world, but still they do not have the diamond mines.

Realising this, Botswana now insists the lucrative cutting process is also done within the country.

The least developed countries, especially those in Africa, have the highest electricity shortages and highest sun-hours but lowest solar power generation.
We tend to find comfort in the victim card.

We don’t take responsibility for making things right but blame everything that goes wrong on someone.

Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in
Pretoria, South Africa

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