While this might seem true on the surface, especially if using the mess that is the current Zambia's Copperbelt area as an example, Robin would argue that it was the development projects themselves that led to failure not governmental influence as proscribed by Ferguson and others.
Robin states; "Development packages are resisted, embraced, reshaped or accommodated depending on the specific content and context." (Robin 2003-page 265)
Robin also states that, "In addition, in many parts of the developing world, it is the retreat of the neo-liberal state, rather than 'the tyranny of development', that poses the most serious threat to household livelihood strategies and economic survival." (Robin 2003-page 265)
In discovering developmental projects that are taking place across Africa it is interesting to note that there are a number of regional projects taking place.
These combined projects could enhance the entire continent's status. Ferguson espoused the fact that there was no 'national economy' in Africa that would help to alleviate the problems associated with attempting to develop nationally, what can only take place on a regional scale. With this thinking in mind, a number of regional projects have been initiated that may culminate in a 'national' feel to the developed regions. If many of the regions can grow, especially with regards to their infrastructure(s), then it would make sense that all the regions would grow exponentially.
Some of the projects currently taking place on the African continent that may help in achieving that growth include; "the construction of the Kenya- Uganda oil pipeline and the launching of the construction phase of the Kenya-Ethiopia highway, extending nearly 1,600km from the port of Mombasa to Addis Ababa, as a means of enhancing transport and communication in the East African region." (Bank 2007)
Many of these types of projects have come to fruition due to the creation of the African Development Bank Group. This is financing group established with the primary purpose of providing the financial support to build and develop 'various infrastructure improvement projects across Africa.'
The group is instrumental in looking to develop Africa and to assisting the African continent in its effort to join with its brethren countries around the world.
"The projects, which are mainly concentrated in transport and energy sectors, will help provide the continent with modern, world-class infrastructure." (Bank 2007)
It is difficult to discern how a finance group such as the African Development Bank Group fits into Ferguson's thoughts about the tyranny of governmental development for the sake of development, and how the only entities to truly benefit from these types of projects are the governmental 'powers to be'.
When the director of a group that has garnered over $1.8 billion to support initiatives across Africa states; "The Bank Group has mobilized additional finances to bolster Africa's push for better roads, electricity and is currently working on the launch of a major financing initiative to dispense more financial resources to African countries under a G8 initiative," (Bank 2007) it is difficult to see how that could equate into more neoliberal control by the current, or future African governments.
If Ferguson's thoughts are that the projects are destined to failure anyway, would the G8 initiatives to assist Africa really receive the support necessary for completion? A cynic might say yes, especially if the thought is that the governments that would control those funds would also benefit from the control established by the receipt of such financial windfalls. This is perhaps what Ferguson means when he talks about the depoliticization process, and how it could be more effective if governments were left out of the mix.
One way to assure that these funds are distributed to their maximum benefit could be to establish groups such as the African Development Bank Group and bringing and staffing the group with experts who are as non-politic as possible.
Experts could include such individuals as economists, environmental economists, bankers, financiers and infrastructure experts from developed countries. Building transportation and energy infrastructure, if done correctly, can enhance a country's wealth and the citizen's lifestyles.
"While environmental economics is still in its infancy in India, it has gained immense popularity in the U.S.A. And Europe." (Webwatch 2006) These individuals would help to ensure that such infrastructure(s) are more of an asset to the country and would continue to provide benefits environmentally as well as financially to each region.
Bankers and financiers are currently in place as are the infrastructure experts necessary for success.
"We want our partners to work with us collectively on issues which affect the continent; the important thing we are telling Africa is that we are helping to finance regional initiatives and our interests remain the development of Africa," (Bank 2007)
With the completion of these various projects it would seem that perhaps the countries involved would be able to join the developed worldwide community and no longer would the 'pall of despair' hang over its citizenry.
African citizens would also not be labeled with the title of failures, even as they attempt to struggle through these labels that may have been unfairly derived.
Within their governments could be individuals that realize the true worth of these projects and that the wealth of the nation(s) could actually culminate in the improvement of every citizen's lives, not just a few. No longer would these impoverished citizens be cast as 'at the bottom' but on an equal footing with the other developed nations around the world.
"Ferguson reminds us in an essay entitled "Decomposing Modernity: History and Hierarchy after Development," has long cast Africans as being not merely "at the bottom," but also "at the beginning" of a developmental process that would, one day, allow them to rise. "For those at the bottom of the global hierarchy," Ferguson writes, "the message was clear: Wait, have patience; your turn will come." (West 2006-page 153)
The citizens of Africa have heard that message and now must realize that through their own power, ambition and initiative they too can become members of the worldwide 'developed' country fraternity.
"Ferguson suggests that "none of the impoverished nations of the world are truly 'sovereign' or 'independent,' and nowhere do we find a true 'national economy.'" to suggest otherwise, Ferguson tells us, is to obscure the operative dynamics of the global economy. Africa's present-day marginalization, he asserts, is indeed the product of specific kinds of economic and political relations forged across national boundaries." (West 2006-page 154)
No longer can Africans accept that their nation will always be impoverished, will always be controlled by colonial powers or that they have now power to establish their own 'developed' status as a country.
Their only obstacles are the ones made by themselves, and they have the power to overcome those obstacles. No longer would anthropologists such as Ferguson be able to condemn the government, or colonial influence, for the failure of African development. Instead, the Africans would be able to show that they to belong to the brotherhood of 'development'.
No longer would Ferguson have the luxury of touting the "myth of modernization'. His book, "according to Ferguson, is about the modernization myth, and what happens when it is turned upside down, shaken, and shattered." (Pritchett 2000-page 150)
If the citizens of Africa can realize their true potential no longer would the myth be shattered or broken, no matter what Ferguson believes.
Bank Group Set to Fund Infrastructure Projects (2007) African Development Bank Group, http://www.afdb.org/portal/page?_pageid=293,174339&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&press_item=12184235&press_lang=us, Accessed March 10, 2007
Baird Private Equity explores India strategies (2007) the Business Journal of Milwaukee, http://milwaukee.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2007/02/26/daily4.html, Accessed Mar 10, 2007
Development and Change (2002) Institute of Social Studies, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK, Vol. 33, Issue 2, pp 361-379
Macmillan, H. (1996) More Thoughts on the Historiography of Transition on the Zambian Copperbelt., Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 22, Issue 2, p 309-312
Piot, C., (2001) Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt, Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 74 Issue
Pritchett, J.A. (2000) Expectations of Modernity, Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 33, Issue 1, pp 150-151
Robins, S., (2003) Whose Modernity?, Indigenous Modernities and Land Claims After Apartheid, Development and Change, Vol. 34, Issue 2 pp 265-286
Sharp, J., (2001) Copperbelt and Cape Town: Urban Styles and Urban Connections in Comparative Perspective, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 19 Issue
Webwatch: Role of the Environmental Economist (2006), http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/nov162006/dheducation18582420061115.asp, Accessed March 10, 2007
West, H.G., (2006) Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order,…