Nyerere: In Africa, As In Asia, The State Must Nurture Economic Development

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Julius Nyerere

[From The Archives]

After a 1995 press conference in Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, who had then already retired as Tanzania's first president answers a question from a German journalist at the 1:05 minute mark and gets to share his views on economic development. Here are his comments:

If you go to Asia one thing which strikes you is the commitment of the State to development. There is a tremendous commitment by the State to development. They are not uncorrupted.

But I heard a story that there is a difference between corruption in Asia and corruption in Africa.  In Asia if there is a contract to build a road that contract might be awarded to the son of the president. In Africa it might also be awarded to the son of the President.

The difference:  In Asia the road will be built. In Africa it will not be built.

So it's true. Commitment is involved. You have to have to have commitment to development.

You see it in Japan. That commitment of the government of Japan to development. Even now, they are a developed country but there is tremendous commitment by the state -- don't listen to this nonsense that the state should give up the direction of the economy.

It's nonsensical. And we have so many stupid leaders who think that somehow you can hand over the development of your country to something called 'private enterprise' unregulated. That you just abandon it to them like that.

That is idiocy. Which country has ever done that? The Japanese have not done it; the British have not done it; the Germans have not done it. They meet in Halifax in June (The Industrialized countries). What for? To drink tea?

What for? The Big 7 are going to meet in Halifax. To do what? To discuss how to control the economy. It's not a meeting of bankers. It's a meeting of presidents and prime ministers on the economy.

And these ignorant people in Africa are being deceived. Don't do this -- leave it to the private sector. Where is the private sector? Where is this private sector in Tanzania to which you are going to leave the development of the country. Where is it?

It needs nursing; it needs nursing before you can have it. So you nurse it. And this is what the Asian countries have done. And you go on nursing it. The Japanese did it.  Korea -- tough; tough. It's only now that they are beginning to open up their market.

How do you open up your market to big competitors when you have no power to compete with big competitors? It's ridiculous. It's like --  in the world of boxing there are heavy weights; middle weights; fly weights; feather weights. And although the rules are the same you put them separately, in separate rings.

The heavy weight in their own ring; the middle weights in their own ring. You don't put in the same ring a heavyweight and a feather weights.Never. Never. How do you do that? That is murder.

But that's what The Big 7 are telling us to do. That Germany and Burkina Faso should get in the same ring. And that is called Globalization; liberalization; freedom. This is nonsense.

This is absolute nonsense. You protect the weak until they become strong before they can compete. Always. This is the rule. This is the rule everywhere. But our leaders even when we tell them they do not argue. They don't argue. They are afraid. You can't say 'no'?

One is the weakness. Our own weaknesses -- internal weaknesses. Until we remove those weaknesses. The internal weaknesses  are not the only problem. The problem is the pressure from the rich that we should open up our markets for  competition.

I'm told we have opened now here banking for instance. Tanzanian banking to compete with European and North American banking? This is nonsensical.

NBC (Tanzanian bank). Is NBC free to open a branch in New York? Can NBC really open a branch in New York? So when you are saying let's be treated equally are you really saying this equality will give NBC an opportunity to open a branch in New York? This is rubbish.

Absolute rubbish. So these big banks they come to Tanzania. I'm told they are beginning to come and then they find NBC and they are now complaining. NBC is too big. We can't compete.  NBC! What kind of bank is NBC. They want to buy its assets. Will our people accept this? 

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