transition imperial domination national independence characterized history states Third World 1950s 1960s. To extent change political status transform economic status places? If, ? If, ?
The decolonization process has been one of the most important phenomena of the 20th century. This is largely due to the impact this process had on the reshaping of the political spectrum at the international level as well as the changes that took place as a result of the process in terms of economics.
The process can be defined as being the “undoing of a colonial relationship. The decolonization process operates at four levels. First, an independent government with full power within the boundaries of the colony is created. The colonial power will no longer control the political structure of the colony. A new elite takes over. Second, the provision of public goods and government services is decided and managed by the new government. The colonial power will no longer bear the cost of running the colony. Third, new social and economic institutions are eventually created, aiming at the establishment of political rights and at improving the levels of economic and social well-being of the population. Fourth, there may be a process of incorporating culturally distinct groups in the community, including non-native settlers and different native population groups” (Garoupa and Gata, 2000). The economic aspect played however a crucial role in the reshaping of internal and external relations of former colonies and their colonist powers.
The most important effect of the decolonization process for the former colonies is their reduced economic growth after gaining independence (Sylwester, 2005). This assertion is largely given by the fact that the decolonization process, as stated above, affects all the levels of the society. In this sense, the political life in the former colony changes as there are new emerging elites that try to undergo a reformation process. This was obvious in most African countries. One example in this sense may be Rwanda which, after gaining independence from the Belgians in the 1960s was confronted with a new political elite that did not have the necessary means and knowledge to run the country. Secondly, the integration of all ethnic and culturally different groups has an important part because usually the decolonization process as well as the independence is a rebellion type of action.
The lack of political experience and the attempt to extend the social base affects the economy by decreasing the level of economic development (Sylwester, 2005). This can be explained by the change in perception at the economic level and increase of the assisted population. Clearly, the groups that were neglected before the independence would face economic difficulties which in turn must be absorbed by the new economy. In the Rwandan case this has proven to be decisive in creating not only a weaker economy but also a conflicting social environment.
However, the impact of gaining independence on the economic spectrum is also a matter of the specificity of the colonization process (Sylwester, 2005). More precisely, for instance, India, after gaining independence from the British Empire did not experience a visible negative experience in terms of economy. This was due to the way in which the colonization process affected the country initially. The British type of colonization was a very inclusive one and therefore the economy was self sufficient. Indeed, the burden of maintaining the colony was no longer an issue for India; yet, the Commonwealth structure, which included India after the independence offered the proper means through which the economic ties between the former British Empire colonies and the Crown were maintained and thus the transition was smooth and without any losses in terms of economy. A similar example is that of Algeria which as well, after independence, maintained close ties with France and enjoyed a special trade arrangement with the former colonizer. This enabled a smoother transition and a capitalization on the benefits of the decolonization process, rather than its negative effects.
Garoupa, Nuno and Juao E. Gata. War and Peace: The European Decolonization Process. 2000. Available at http://www.polarizationandconflict.org/Papers/garoupa.pdf
Sylwester, Kevin. “Decolonization and economic growth: the case of Africa.” Journal of economic development. Volume 30, Number 2, December 2005. Available online at http://www.jed.or.kr/full-text/30-2/J05_694.PDF
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