by Ruth Aine - 14 November 2013
Globalization is a good thing……….or not?
Globalization as the integration and interchange of so many aspects in life is responsible for a lot of things. Advances in telecommunications and the use of the internet being one of those prominent. Being able to communicate across boarders and timezones. In developing countries the positive changes brought about by globalization and the negative ones are highly pronounced. Rapid globalization makes competition for resources intense. It is highly extractive. As we see a lot of growth in interaction and economic independence especially in the developing countries, the migration of people is very imminent and so is the movement of investments. The negatives seem to stare us more boldly in the face than the celebrations that we are supposed to be having.
One of the very many effects of globalization is ethnic fight or civil war. Some researchers have argued that ethnic strife in Africa is inevitable. There are little resources and very many people want share of the pie. Competition for resources between tribes and clans are why we have a continuing war in Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Egypt at the moment and is why there was conflict in Uganda's north, Kenya after the 2007 elections and Angola. A reasonable argument has also been made that resource abundance, and not resource scarcity, has been a cause of violent conflict. The more plentiful a resource, the more competition there will be for access and control over a particular resource. More precisely, the argument is : the higher the economic return, the more competition, the higher the likelihood of a violent conflict erupting. This does not paint a very good picture of conflict for the years to come especially in Africa. We do not seem to be able to be content at all with what we have. But what do we value and who is measuring what?
Climate change is a reality. In Africa, the effects are already being felt and the future projections are downright scary. How much of this is fueled by globalization? A recent report by Long Term Adaption Scenarios shows climate change projections up to 2050 and beyond project warming as high as 5 to 8ºC over the South African interior, and somewhat less over the coastal regions, under an unmitigated global emissions scenario. One other report says that there would be one predicted there would be 3700 million environmental migrants by 2050, while another put the figure at 4300 million. Migration and movement of people is seen by the International Monetary Fund as a key aspect of globalization.
The African identity s one that we hold close to heart. Before I am identified as a Ugandan, I want to be called an East African. And before I am called an East African, I want to be called an African. It is a title and identity that I hold with pride. But this identity is under threat because of globalization. And I often wonder what the story will be like 20 years down the road. We take pride in what globalization can do for us. It is fashionable, it is very influential and it is pervasive. It is not our fault I will be quick to add. Today, there are global risks: like terror, climate change, youth unemployment that create a conversation all across the globe. To join in the conversation, we must be able to understand what we are talking about. Patterns of consumption find a common ground, human rights ideas are thriving in all the countries. This is globalization. How much of all this an we take in and still be who we are?
In one blog-post, be it negative or positive, can never tell the whole story.
What is clear, however, is that the unifying forces of globalization and the fragmenting forces of identity politics are two sides of the same coin, two complementary tendencies which must be understood well for anyone wishing to make sense of the global scene.