Change is one aspect of life that we cannot escape from. Every nation has experienced change in one way or the other. Change occurs in many ways, sometimes it comes as a result of careful planning sometimes it comes suddenly.
It is now clear that Malawians are seeking for carefully-planned change relating to socio-economic aspects of the nation. The change people seek is that which will reduce extreme levels of poverty, high inflation levels that have led to low disposable income of citizens, high unemployment levels, low levels of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, food insecurity and many more.
In a quest to perpetuate positive change, the donor community has, in the aftermath of colonialism for several years now, assisted African economic development through several intervention programmes such as education projects, technical assistance, human capacity building and fiscal budgetary support through grants and soft loans.
All these programmes are largely aimed at alleviating poverty and enhance development efforts for the region. Reportedly, Africa has had the largest share of economic assistance as compared to other relatively poor regions in Asia and Latin America. From the mid-1970s, the donor community increased aid to Africa in response to numerous needs, for instance, oil price shocks, harvest failures and economic recession.
Loxley and Sackey, (2008) reports that an annual rate of 38 percent of all aid earmarked for developing countries was directed to Africa and was highest over the period 1985-1994. However, the total share fell to 31 percent over the period between 1995 and 2004 periods. In real terms, the amount decreased from $27.3 billion to $23.4 billion. Highly indebted countries such as Malawi also benefited by having their external debts forgiven.
However, despite the huge assistance given to African countries, including Malawi, significant positive change has not showed up yet. Instead, African countries are among the poorest in the world so much so that Africa’s slow growth poses the most complex challenge facing economists today.
Despite attaining independence from colonial masters over four decades ago, many African countries still wallow in the shackles of underdevelopment. It is even reported that income inequality between Africa and the developed countries, mainly the euro zone, has even grown wider over the years. Income per capita in Africa is lower today than it was 25 years ago. It is no surprise that many people on the continent survive on less than a dollar a day despite the real per capita GDP indicating a positive growth rate. According to IMF (2010) report, the real per capita GDP growth rate for 1995-2009 for sub-Saharan African countries was on average, slightly higher at 2.3 percent as compared to -0.2 percent registered between 1980 and 1994.
Based on the amount of assistance to African countries, it is a sad development that Malawi and other African countries have not improved even after being given the highest level of assistance than has been directed elsewhere. Reports like these call for drastic measures to be taken at national and grassroots level.
Common sense dictates that when people are dissatisfied with the status quo, like Malawians are, it is their responsibility to make things different by doing some things differently. Barack Obama likes to say ‘we are the change that we seek’. It means that if it is positive change that we seek, then it all starts with us and this requires constant self motivation and awareness as to what can be done by us and not what can be done for us.
Some experts have commented that to have a positive and long lasting socio-economic change, there is need to foster the creation of an independent and fair government apparatus, supported by a strong civil society, an effective private sector and institutions that provide oversight of government actions in upholding the rule of law and accountability.