How Modernization Theory Can Apply In African Development

Clyff By Clyff, 8th Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

Africa Needs to needs to grow at a faster rate. Among the ways to do it is via the Modernization Theory.

African Development

Modernization is a model of progressive transition from a traditional to a modern society.
According to E. Moore modernization refers to total transition of traditional society to types of technology and associated social organization that is characterized by economically advanced and politically table states of the West.
Modernization theory is a theory that explains how the society changes from a traditional society to a modern form, by striving towards a modern society of such as Europe and USA. The theory involves achieving:
 Institutions
 Modern Value
 Modern Behaviour
 Modern Society
 Economic Development
Africa has plentiful of economic resources; however the continent languishes I poverty as evidenced by high prevalence of famine, disease and ignorance (cite, Buthelezi, 2007).
Modernization in Africa means following the development footstep of Europe and USA by creating efficient techniques of production such as agriculture modernization. The modernization theory can be of applied in explaining the African development process.
Development in African can be facilitated through moving from a feudal to a capitalist society. The reliance on the noble families, as the case is feudal system, acts like a hindering factor private investors. However a society based on capitalism, where the private sectors control investments, encourages more investments hence development. For example in the traditional Buganda kingdom in Uganda, the king had all the mandate in controlling all the activities in the kingdom. This was such a hindrance in the development. An embrace of the western capitalism form of society bred the new and developed Uganda.
In the process of African develop, there was, and still is, need to reduce over reliance in agricultural production and embrace industrial production. Africa has had an over reliance in agricultural production. Even though agriculture is such a backbone in Africa, its products are less valuable as compared to the products from the manufacturing industries. This can affect Africa since the revenue earned from agriculture is quite minimal to stimulate rapid development. For example, a comparison of Kenya, which is more into agriculture, and South Africa, which does much industrial production as compared to Kenya, shows that South Africa is much more developed. It also reveals that South Africa will continue growing more rapidly than Kenya since industrial products are of much value, and hence fetches more returns, as compared to agricultural products.
African development can be enhanced by shifting from subsistence farming to surplus production. There is need to shun the traditional subsistence farming where production was just for one’s own consumption. Surplus production should be encouraged, where one can produce products enough to sustain themselves and have a surplus that can be taken to the market for sell. This acts as a food security mechanism as well as an economic empowerment mechanism. The producer of the products will have enough for their own consumption and the sell the surplus, hence earn revenue that can be used in other forms of investment or ploughed back to farm production hence resulting into an increased profit in the subsequent production. Surplus production also encourages specialization. This is where other people in the economy can concentrate in other activities that facilitate development since their food matters are catered for by those who produce in surplus. This enables development in all sectors, unlike everyone engaging in subsistence production to sustain their needs hence causing economic stagnation in other sectors. For example in the African traditional societies (specifically in Kenya), communities used to produce food for their own consumption or for barter trade for other items like food or animals. This made every household engage in farming hence stagnating other important sectors of development. However Kenya has now transformed in development and given regions are known for surplus production, which feeds the rest of the country which can now concentrate in other activities that enhance development. Regions such as Kitale, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu are known for surplus production of maize that caters for the country. Surplus production can be achieved through agriculture modernization, where farmers are encouraged to:
 Try new crops
 Use new production methods
 Use hybrid farm inputs such as modern planting cereals and modern machinery such as tractors and combined harvesters.
 Use greenhouse technology
 Use artificial fertilizers.
 Apply insecticides, et cetera.

The modernization theory also advocates for the use of advanced technology rather than primitive technology in Africa’s attempt to grow. This use of technology cuts across a wide range of sectors. Technology can be applied in agriculture which is a main activity in Africa. Technology in this sector-agriculture- involves use of modern means of agriculture such as hybrid inputs, use of artificial fertilizer, use of modern machinery such as tractors and combined harvesters. Scientific knowledge should also be applied in agriculture, for instance applying artificial insemination. This modern methods will boost production in agriculture.
Advanced technology can also be applied in other sectors such as transport and communication. This involves acquiring modern means of transport and communication such as roads, railways, waterways and including their vessels that is vehicles, trains, ships and modern boats. This reduces time taken to move from one place to another, hence increasing the productivity of people and delivery of goods to the market, for instance perishable goods. For instance delivering fruits ton the market using aircrafts can be much productive unlike using an animal to transport which can lead to some of the fruits going bad before they reach market. Hence quick means of transport adds value to goods hence fetching more returns since they reach the market or processing plant in time.
Modern communication means create a fast medium of exchanging information which can assist in making crucial steps towards development. Use of phones, emails, and chat rooms can be an important avenue for information exchange that can be the next big idea to boost the economy. Some information need quick delivery lest the information becomes outdated. For example information about a market opportunity to be delivered to a person 100 miles away will takes several days if delivered via a messenger riding an animal. There are high chances that by the time the messenger reaches the information, the opportunity is gone. However it just takes less than a minute to deliver the message via phone or email.
The internet, which is such a magnificent innovation, has made lots of things people. This include creating an online platform for information exchange, a platform that enables buying and selling of goods online without a physical market. For example, Amazon is an online venue where one can buy a product from any point in the globe without physically meeting with buyer. The same applies to OLX in Kenya where people can sell and buy products online. Hence unlike the traditional society where people had to travel for long distance to a place to purchase an item, they can now buy it online and invest that travelling time to generating income that leads to development. It also reduces the cost of travel hence channel the funds to other activities.
Advanced technology can be applied to the fishing sector where acquisition of refrigerating equipment will enable long selling period of the perishable fish, hence fetching more revenue. This is unlikely to happen when using traditional methods such as smoking, drying and salting.

Development in Africa involves a shift from a rural society setting to an urban setting. The urban setting/society is characterized with easy access to social amenities such as good schools, good hospitals, recreational centres, electricity, just to mention a few. There is also good infrastructure in urban areas including roads and communication lines, than in rural areas. In addition to that, urban areas have more employment opportunities as compared to rural areas. This is due to the large number of processing industries, service offering firms and other casual jobs that are available in plenty in urban areas. This makes urban people have more avenues of getting income. Hence the living standards in urban areas is better than in most rural areas. This enables people to live a better life in urban areas, hence a progress in development.
Even though the urban areas face challenges that are associated with high population or urbanization, the state of infrastructure and social amenities in urban areas is better than in rural areas. There are also much more employment opportunities than in rural areas.

African development includes moving from culture-based society to a ruled-based/institution-based society. The traditional African society was fully tied to their cultures, some of which were of adverse effect. The society made prejudgements that were prejudiced. They based their judgement on myths and believes that were tied to their society. Some of the activities carried out were not based on any rules but rather on the general culture of the affected society. For example a society in which any alleged thief is set on fire instead of having a trial to determine whether he is really guilty or it is just a mere allegation. Such societies needed/need a shift to a law/ruled based society where a conclusion or judgement is based on some laws that govern the society. Institutions such as courts, which give both parties fair opportunities to forward their case, should be incorporated in societies. This gives equal chances to members of society and hence one can carry out their activities without fear of being ‘crucified’ by cultural beliefs.
A shift from a religion-based to a logical and rational society is another move in development. Some African societies, up to this century, have very strong religious believes, some of which are really amazing and irrational and are not based on any religious evidence. For example, some unique church in Kenya which their members are not allowed to go to hospital in case of any illness! Such a religious believe is irrational because it is logic that an ill person needs medical attention. Some members of this church have even succumbed to various ailments. Some of these religions prohibit their members from doing any economic work that can generate money, and this affects the economy adversely. The society should try an incorporate logic in some matters since some religion are out there to misguide and exploit their members by using some illogical rules and laws of religion.
The society needs to adopt market-oriented labour and shun the family/clan labour. The traditional African societies carried out task in a family/clan manner, where the members of the family or clan helped in doing a task for one another. Although this method is not costly, it has the negative of applying unskilled labour in sectors that may need people with experience and skills. Unskilled labour is less productive hence the job done is not to standard. For example a society in which members of the clan, with no skills, come together to build a house for a clan member. In modern society, people have specialized in various field and hence they carry out tasks in their fields with great standard and productivity. The end product is worth it. Hence Africa needs a move to market-oriented labour where each one does a job in their area of specialization. This boost productivity and hence economy.
Africa, at last, can move from underdeveloped to developed. After making changes in the above discussed areas, the continent can shift from the state of underdevelopment to a developed state. It would have had good infrastructure, good social amenities, good institutions and laws, rationality in its society and its members and embraced technology to the fullest. African will be now a developed continent.

The critiques of the Modernization Theory of development in Africa
The theory of modernization is critiqued because it fails to consider the poor as the centrepiece in poverty reduction initiatives impact on the fails to construct adequate notions of both causal power of social structures and the role of human agency in shaping social relations in general.
The critiques of modernization theory of development in Africa are as follows:
1. Modernization is oversimplified view of social change (Coetzee et al., 2007:101). Human nature has a propensity to resist change which brings in elements of uncertainty.
2. Modernization is based on deterministic reason which states that within the linear model of socio-economic development, changes are initiated externally. The premise encourages the foreign power to prescribe the route to Africa’s development.
3. Modernization is associated with development aid from the developed countries. However, this relation tended to beneficiate the metropolitan states more than the recipient countries (Africa)
4. Modernization impoverished Africa because it failed to recognize the creativity and initiative of the Africans. The theory emphasizes supremacy of the metropolis (developed countries) that altered Africa’s superstructure of beliefs and value system.
Generally, the modernisation theory calls for the deculturalisation of the African people for the continent to follow the development footsteps of metropolitan states such as Europe. This process of modernization as exemplified by the theory involves the creation of efficient techniques of production such as agriculture modernization. The degree of modernity in Africa can be measured by the extent in which the following characteristics as are exhibited.
(i) Readiness to accommodate the process of transformation resulting from changes.
(ii) Continuous broadening of life experiences and receptiveness to new knowledge.
(iii) Continuous planning, calculability and readiness towards new experiences.
(iv) Predictability of action and the ability to exercise effective control.
(v) High premium on technical skills and understanding of the principles of production.
(vi) Changing attitudes to kinship, family roles, family size and the role of religion.
(vii) Changing consumer behaviour and the acceptance of social stratification.

Cliff Ombachi



Africa, Development, Modernization

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author avatar Clyff
Technology geek, Computer Scientist, Writer by Nature, Software Developer, Web Designer/Developer, Mobile App Developer.

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author avatar BAmwenda Bosco
6th May 2014 (#)

Please pull up ua socks

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
10th Nov 2014 (#)

Liberal democracy needs rule of law and to respect the majority decisions and that is a bit tough in some societies. The boss remains the same whoever is elected. Africa has great potential in renewable energy like solar and wind that they can export the surplus to Europe - siva

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author avatar Noor
15th Dec 2017 (#)

this is usefull

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author avatar ELWANA JOSEPH
7th Jan 2019 (#)

Just perfect , exactly what i expected.Thanks

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