It was during the 1960s that most African British colonies were gaining their independence. This was also true for Britain's colonies in East Asia. Another feature that these young nations had in common was that their economies had been left in a deplorable state…
Whether it is in the form of education, governance, or availability of social amenities, the colonial powers had made no moves at empowering their subjects (Meredith, 2000).
The departure of the colonialists, though an event that had been looked forward to by the natives, who had fought hard for their freedom, also brought great trepidation. The young nations had to take their first wobbly steps in self governance, international relations and trade, as well as come to terms with globalization which was being thrust upon them.
Kenya and Singapore, who attained independence within two years of each other in 1963 (Ndulu, 2008) and 1965 (Yew, 2000) respectively, both had underdeveloped economies with limited industrialization and a heavy dependence on the agricultural sector. However, there was great potential for development for both countries. Forty years down the line, Singapore, along with several East Asian countries, has been able to raise herself from the status of 'third world' to a quickly growing economy. Kenya, and most other African countries, on the other hand, is still mark timing with no real advances made (Findlay et al, 1993).
The question then arises why today majority of African countries, taking Kenya as a case study, are vastly underdeveloped economies while those in East Asia have moved up the ladder to be labeled as fast growing economies.
This is what shall be analyzed and discussed, by reviewing both countries economic policies, their strengths and shortcomings to try find out what has been done right, or what needs to be revised.
1960: A look at Kenya and Singapore four decades back
Le Blanc (1980) traces Singapore's economic growth from 1960 to the 1980s. He says that though Singapore was considered an underdeveloped economy in the sixties, the transformation that was to be seen two decades later was amazing. On the basis of the three most common development indicators namely, social services, education and per capita output with little indebtedness, Singapore can simply not be classified as a third world country (Le Blanc, 1980).
Singapore under British colonial rule was considered a major trade port and a military outpost for Britain. However, with the disintegration of the colonial empires, Singapore faced a privation because she had been the meeting point for these empires. Her trade was built around exporting spices, rubber and timber in exchange for machinery and processed goods. When Indonesia and Malaysia gained independence, they opted not to conduct trade with Singapore and thus she lost thee source of her export materials (Daquila, 2000).
Her situation was made worse by the communist agitations in china, the impacts of which she experienced in the form of civil unrests and political tensions within the country that scared away any aspiring foreign investors(Yew, 2000).
Singapore looked abroad for help on the way forward and was receptive to the recommendations made by the United Nations Industrial Survey Mission. The Singaporean government realized that it had to achieve three things before it could move towards industrialization (Dent 2002). These were:
- The abolishment of the communist party so as to create room for industrial stability as well as instilling discipline in the relationships ...
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