Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, February 25th, 2021

The Economic Barriers of Development in Afghanistan

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The Economic Barriers of Development  in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, despite having a long ancient history, has remained as one of the least developed countries in the world. Whenever, the United Nations and other international orgs release list of backward countries, Afghanistan lies in top of the list with stable indicators of food shortage, substandard behaviors or violence, high birth rates, high illiteracy level, substandard health services and so forth. There are different barriers against development including social and political barriers, economic barriers, cultural barriers, geographical barriers and so forth, but economic barriers seems more serious. According to World Bank estimates, the economic outlook of Afghanistan is not very hopeful and will not surpass 5 % growth until 2030.  The average workforce growth rate is estimated 400,000 individuals yearly while their absorption in labor market is only about 30%.  If we do not change such a dark economic outlook, no power will bring peace and stability in the country.
In the other word, the backwardness of Afghanistan has many factors but as Karl Marx believed economy is the foundation society and seemingly the most powerful barrier against development in Afghanistan. It seems that Afghanistan was a poor country from very long ago, but the rulers provided their needs through military force.  In recent centuries after losing their military power, it became dependent to economic assistance of other countries. This dependency was not confined to the government officials but also ethnic elders. Because of economic requirement they were compelled to accept the legitimate or illegitimate demand of foreign countries.  In Asia level, Afghanistan has constantly got the position of poorest country but in world level it is comparable with only some African countries.  The yearly income of each Afghan is around 200$ largely because of geographical feature of the country.  Geographically, Afghanistan is a landlocked and mountainous with some 5% cultivable lands.
According to famous political scholars such as Huntington, there is a serious relation between economic growth and social and political development believing that economy is one of the most fundamental tools for ensuring political development, political identity and political independence. In fact, without economic capacity talking about political stability, independence and creating political identities seems senseless. In Afghanistan, we always attribute our backwardness to inferences of this and that but we never asked why they do not interfere in other countries simply because we are weak. Unfortunately, our weaknesses are emanated from economic weaknesses and economic dependencies. Some experts added that the economic weaknesses led to unequal relationship with advanced countries. As a result, they always dominate on our natural resources and raw materials with the least constructive feedback for the country.  They provide us with some technological products, but not with its scientific knowledge and skills. Means, they gave us some fishes, but not taught how to fish. As they have domination on international markets, they always buy raw materials in lower prices but supply their own products with higher prices. Moreover, they take large parts of interests which come from transportations, advantages rights, technical assistance and so forth in trade exchanges.
The economic weaknesses are also linked with low human capital while the relationships between the two capitals are as complementary factors for social and political development. The human capitals are created by providing high quality educational services in school and university levels while the poor countries such as Afghanistan cannot afford to sufficiently invest on education. Countries that are highly developed today have a long history of providing free or highly-subsidized or high quality educational services to their citizens. For example, Japan pays around 7500$ to its school teachers while Afghanistan is not able to provide its school teachers with more than 100$. Therefore, the feedback of teachers in both countries will not be comparable because Japan can hire the most talented people for the post of teachers while in Afghanistan the least talented individuals are ready to work as teacher. Moreover, if we look back in past forty years, Afghanistan has suffered from the largest number of brain drains in the world because of economic poverty. Although a number of people left the country because of insecurity, we also witnessed thousands of people who migrated from secure provinces. In h fact, the issues of migrations are not totally linked to insecurity as millions of people migrate from relatively secure countries because of economic motives which are called economic migration.
In general, the scientific research shows a serious link between social and economic development. Most of the public dissatisfactions are rooted in scarcity of economic resources, but if a country has a good economic capacity then the hand of political leaders are open to satisfy all the citizens. Similarly, they are not compelled to be obedient to accept the legitimate or illegitimate demands of foreign countries. So, the more economically powerful the more chances to be successful in social and political advancement because economic welfare promoting higher standard of literacy, education, and public media and eventually paving the way for meaningful political participation. If we look back in few last elections, a large number of people voted to those who distributed more money and foods. As a result, instead of big Afghan scholars with master or PHD degrees and with high position amidst academic community of the country, a few business men succeeded to enter in the parliament of Afghanistan. As a solution, Afghanistan needs to initiate a comprehensive economic strategy to ensure the stability of the country in longer term. The Afghan political leaders need to focus on deterrent factors of development such as economic poverty and economic corruption. However, the current president of Afghanistan could be considered as unique personality in history who has largely changed the land locked feature of the country. He really deserves to be encouraged in terms of paying attention to economic infrastructures though there are still serious criticisms in other cases.  

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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