Administration and Economic Planning in Eastern Africa: A
Ford Foundation Program Evaluation
p. 7 of 8
To satisfy the principal purpose
of an evaluation exercise, i.e. to assess what we have learned from the
experience, it is appropriate to attempt to distill in this concluding
section the lessons of the Foundation’s 15-year engagement with
economic planning and administration in Eastern Africa. The following
sections focus on operational pointers, generalizations on success and
failure, reflections on development strategy, and a possible agenda for
future Foundation work.
Although the list could be extended, the following five points
seem to me most critical concerning the conduct of the program:
a. Technical advisory assistance is most needed and most effective
in the early years after Independence.
As we observed in connection with
their work on management improvement, foreign advisors have the
opportunity to play a more vital role just after Independence than later
on when interest groups have been articulated, habits formed and more
trained local people become available. The early years are particularly
important because serious errors made then, for example in the
allocation of large-scale investments, can limit the country’s options
for many years in the future. Similarly, the creation of effective
procedures and systems in the early years can have a beneficial impact
on the decision-making process well into the future. This point has
obvious relevance to the potential emergence of Namibia and Zimbabwe in
southern Africa. If the Foundation is to become involved in the planning
or administrative processes of those states it should do so very soon
after their creation.
b. The most effective advisors have rare combinations of personal
and professional qualities; they must be personally capable of
identifying themselves with the national objectives of the governments
they serve and professionally able to adapt their knowledge
imaginatively to local conditions.
The building of planning or
administrative systems will initially be modeled to a greater or lesser
degree on foreign experience, and it takes a person of unusual qualities
to recognize ways in which imported procedures and techniques can be
adapted to meet local needs. This is not to endorse foreign
institutional models as ideal; in practice, however, indigenous
institutions capable of handling the tasks of a modern nation-state are
likely to evolve only over time and with experience.
c. Effective programs are more likely to emerge from the interaction
of able advisors with their colleagues in government, rather than from
either Foundation or government preconceptions alone.
This point may boil down simply
to the notion that an effective response to a particular need is most
likely to emerge from a mixture of specific situational factors and a
broad array of possible alternatives. The advisor presumably is familiar
with a variety of feasible alternatives to deal with a situation, and
his colleagues in government, through interaction with him, help to find
the most suitable for that environment.
d. Field Offices play a vital role in mounting effective technical
Representational staff, based in
the field, yet one step removed from actual governmental activity, are
able to perceive developmental trends without becoming directly engaged
in the process or committed to a particular line of action. The
advisors, who are fully engaged, are best able to suggest program
options in many cases, but an allocative function must be performed for
the Foundation by someone less intimately involved, like the
e. Probably the most difficult decisions concern the timing and
manner of withdrawal from a program.
There is seldom universal
agreement on this point. The government or department concerned
generally wants continued technical assistance, while those in other
parts of government or society are critical of continued reliance on
foreign support. In East Africa I found no criticism that the Foundation
stayed in these programs too long, and only in selected cases was the
withdrawal considered in retrospect to have been premature. An exception
to this is the field of management, where, at least in Tanzania, the
Foundation is thought to have given up too soon.
Professor Cranford Pratt of the
University of Toronto described the style of the Foundation’s
technical assistance program in a concise, if flattering, way as
“The Ford Foundation’s
activities in Kenya and Tanzania have been marked by three very special
features. Firstly there has been a shrewd and farsighted identification
of problem areas that are simultaneously of great importance and involve
activities that it is within the competence of the Foundation
effectively to assist. The identification of these problem areas by
Foundation officers or advisors has on some instances preceded their
identification by the governments concerned - or at least has been in
terms far more precise and operational than those in which they had as
yet been conceived by the Governments. Secondly, the Foundation proved
able to recruit individuals whose experience, training and capacity to
work effectively in Africa were unrivalled by other sources of technical
assistance. Thirdly the individuals were recruited with less regard
either to national origin or to ideology than by any other aid agency
and they were encouraged to give their full loyalty to the department or
agency for which they worked rather than to feel themselves also as part
of a Foundation team. These three factors explain why, in both
countries, the governments have recurrently turned to the Foundation for
help in regard to issues that were highly important and quite sensitive.
This is surely an achievement of very substantial proportions for an
agency that could very easily have been closely associated in African
eyes with the U.S. government.”
D. 2. Generalizations
on Successes and Failures
Despite sharp divergences in the chosen strategies of Kenya and
Tanzania, the Foundation was able to work amiably and intimately with
both countries and continues, I believe to enjoy their confidence.
In substantive terms, the record
is also largely positive, but there were areas of considerable
disappointment. As we have noted, most difficulty has been encountered
in arresting the decline in the quality of the public service, in
decentralizing planning and administration, and in improving public
sector management. Is it possible to generalize about the source of
these difficulties; can they be traced to a common cause?
If so, it may be found in the
contradictions between alien institutions and cultural values.
We have observed that the
functioning of modern (western) institutions requires not only
information, which can be acquired through training and experience, but
also a set of attitudes and values that sometimes conflict with
traditional attitudes and values, as in the case of performance
evaluations. Western attitudes and values can also be learned through
training and experience, but they may not be internalized; hence, the
divergence between public and private morality which Hyden remarked
Albert Maleche touches on this
dichotomy in describing the typical African management trainee in the
following terms: “His deeper patterns and relationships have already
been formed and determined within the kinship setting. Furthermore, as
we see continually, the demands or obligations and concerns of kinship
are not compartmentalized, but themselves permeate and effect the
Kinship loyalty is often regarded
as an obstacle to effective performance; indeed, under the name of
nepotism it is commonly considered in the West to be a form of petty
corruption when detected in public or business affairs. Yet tribal
identity and kinship loyalty are important elements in the fabric of
African society, and one wonders if some accommodation with these
powerful forces would not be beneficial in at least some spheres of
Goren Hyden’s impressive study
of cooperatives in Kenya (1973), for example, focuses on the deleterious
effect of “mechanical solidarity,” by which he means loyalty to
family, clan or tribe. Mechanical solidarity is contrasted with organic
solidarity, based more on conscious occupational or class interests.
There is a presumption in this work and in others that organic
solidarity is more advanced and more desirable and the other type needs
to be eradicated as soon as possible.
One should at least examine the
possibility, however, that the greatest gains in output and social
development could be found by using existing loyalties and
identifications, rather than by opposing them. The sine qua non for
cooperation of any sort is a community of trust. It seems doubtful that
one can legislate or achieve through ideological pronouncements the
broadening of this basis of cooperation as rapidly as it can be found
through exercising the potential that already exists. Chambers, for
example, notes in passing that the Harambee movement was originally
built on clan-level groupings but that in recent years it has become
possible to broaden cooperation in order to achieve larger projects,
such as the construction of regional technical institutes. One wonders
if the movement would ever have been launched if it had had to begin at
the level of cooperation it has now achieved.
Tanzania has moved rather sharply
away from recognition of tribal and kinship obligations. I don’t refer
here to the abolition of chieftainships shortly after independence. The
formal tribal institution is less important than the internalized sense
of identity that survives. Disbanding the Bahayya and Chagga marketing
cooperatives are more pertinent examples. Finucane points out that in
the Mwanza region, Government and Party are virtually the only viable
rural organizations. This exclusive reliance on modern institutions may
turn out to be a serious error. An important psychological basis for
productive cooperation is being neglected.
Possibly the socialist values
enunciated so eloquently by President Nyerere will provide a new and
better basis for cooperative effort. This, more than the weather or the
price of oil, is to me the question that will determine the outcome of
In some organizations or
institutions there would seem to be no room for the exercise of kinship
or tribal loyalties. The economic planning system in Kenya is one
example. For the system to function efficiently and effectively, a high
level of professional skill exercised in an objective, impersonal manner
The Economic Service is a device
that serves to buffer its members from pressures growing out of
traditional obligations. It can be a vehicle for enhancing skills and
promoting professional values and identity.
When seen in these terms, the
Service becomes more than a parallel career path in government. It
offers one means to protect the integrity and enrich the experience of
its members. Despite the fact that economists seem always to be in short
supply, it may be more important to deepen the knowledge and
professional commitment of members of the Service than to greatly
increase their numbers.
This perspective also makes one
dubious about the wisdom of assigning members of the Service to regional
and district planning posts. Traditional values are presumably more
powerful in the rural areas, and the professional armor of these new
knights of impartial rationality may be too thin to withstand assault
alone. The possibility
might be considered of inviting several countries to send graduate
students in development economics to work alongside these Kenyan
officers in the field. The foreign students would learn a great deal,
and the Kenyans would be holstered by the presence of professional
Large-scale enterprises using
complex and costly technology will also have difficulty in accommodating
traditional values and obligations. There are many economic and social
arguments leveled against capital-intensive industries, so the case here
is but another straw on the camel’s back. It is now widely recognized
that the modern industrial sector is not going to grow to incorporate
the masses of the population of East Africa in the foreseeable future,
no matter what strategy is followed.
It may in fact be wise to
severely limit the number of import-substitution industries, and let
them be run along western lines by a liberal number of western managers.
They could be regarded as an enclave, necessary in the short run until
local methods and organizations can be devised to do their tasks, or
until a modern African management system emerges which can take them
over. The main benefit of these industries should be efficient output,
not training or experience, because they may not represent the way
things will be done in a modern Kenya or Tanzania.
That position is overstated. Some
industries, like airlines, need to be run in an international manner and
it is simply a question of learning to run them that way. But
international techniques may not be the long-range answer for many
How could a more distinctively
African system for managing large-scale enterprises using complex
technology be found? The
two possible sources that first come to mind are (1) through African
adaptation of modern techniques used elsewhere and (2) through the
evolution of traditional African techniques.
Either of these processes could
be facilitated by outside assistance, but both would in the final
analysis need to be accomplished by Africans. They could be facilitated
in several ways:
a. Experienced African civil servants and managers could be invited
to reflect on the ways in which available institutional models could be
altered to better meet local circumstances;
b. Workshops could be organized wherein African managers and
anthropologists would try to improve curricular elements of local
management training institutions. Manager/anthropologist consulting
teams could also do diagnostic studies of selected African enterprises.
c. Comparative studies of management systems employed in diverse
developed countries such as Japan, USSR, Germany and the U.S. could be
undertaken by African scholars in search of techniques most adaptable to
d. Voluntary organizations in the rural areas could be encouraged;
and the more successful analyzed for keys to their success.
D. 3. Reflections
on Development Strategy
It is not my purpose to judge the merits of the governments of
East Africa, but there is an obligation in an exercise such as this to
order our thinking about development strategy. The experiences of
Tanzania and Kenya are of greater interest today than ever before; they
are both stable and in some respects successful, in an era when much of
Africa is in baffling disarray.
Yet both Kenya and Tanzania are
victims, in a sense, of an essentially Western debate over social
values. Kenya has followed a sensible, growth-oriented strategy, based
to a reasonable degree on economic analysis. In this it has been
remarkably successful, although it has had to pay the penalty of the
emergence of a dual economy and the skewed income distribution inherent
therein. Tanzania has equally successfully sought to avoid the damaging
social effects of a dual economy, achieving admirable income
distribution patterns and relying generally on class analysis for
guidance. The debate between Kenya and Tanzania over their respective
strategies is generally expressed in growth and equity terms reminiscent
of the post-war European ideological competition.
But the Europeans could afford to
debate the merits of growth and equity, freedom and the proper role of
the State, without becoming unduly engrossed with the problem of raising
the general cultural level of their populations to the point where they
could design, produce and use modern technology. These human capacities
had generally been achieved; it was a question of finding an appropriate
harness in which they could pull together to accomplish the chosen
objectives of their societies.
In East Africa, much of the human
capacity required by modern technology and social organization remains
to be realized. Developing human potential may be the main task; undue stress on either growth or equity at this stage may
retard or even defeat the broader development effort.
Education and training programs
do increase human capacities, and both countries have consistently given
high priority to them. Formal learning is doubtless an essential
condition for raising the general level of cultural efficacy, but we
need to understand better than we do the developmental impact of
different kinds of occupational experience.
Participation is a popular word
in today’s development literature. Local-level participation in
planning and decision-making is an explicit Tanzanian objective. One can
observe, however, that participation in an irrigation scheme has a
highly developmental effect, and that is an environment in which the
farmer has very restricted choices. One needs to ask what changes in
competences and attitudes are fostered through participation in
cooperatives, Harambee and other voluntary organizations, irrigation
schemes, local planning, and small private enterprise. This is a
dimension of the development process too often lost sight of in our
concern for the orderly functioning of the essential central planning
and administrative capacity of government.
Several people I spoke with
remarked that an optimal strategy in East Africa would be somewhere
between Kenya’s and Tanzania’s. That is an easy prescription to
accept in principle because it covers a very broad range of
alternatives. I wouldn’t presume to try to define an optimal strategy,
but I would suggest that in addition to considerations of growth and
equity, outcomes should from time to time be reviewed in terms,
necessarily less concrete, of the realization of human potential. One
may ask such questions as:
Are people voluntarily spending more time learning and producing?
Are people accepting more responsibility for their conditions
with respect to occupation, fertility, education, housing, and health?
In short, has their sense of personal efficacy increased?
Are people becoming better able to cooperate with others from
different backgrounds? Has their sense of empathy broadened?
D. 4. Agenda
for the Future?
Perhaps it is in the nature of the evaluation
process that one concludes with more questions than answers. As we
contemplate future program opportunities in Africa and elsewhere, a
number of issues pertaining to our experience in East Africa may well be
in our minds:
Administration and Staff Development
Would a more innovative and imaginative approach to training and
organization have been appropriate in the immediate post-independence
period? Would the new African government have welcomed it?
Is there any feasible way to reverse the apparent decline in
civil service effectiveness in African governments?
What kind of civil service will the more successful African
countries have in ten or twenty years?
How can one assist in the evolution of a stable, effective
Is “the establishment of a lasting, effective planning process,
indigenously staffed, widely spread and used throughout Government” a
realistic objective anywhere in Africa? If so, under what conditions?
Should we concentrate on improving the professional quality and
the sense of professionalism of the Economic Service in Kenya?
Elsewhere? How important is the Ph.D. degree for planners?
Is there a need for an Africa-wide professional association of
economists, or public service economists, paralleling AAPAM?
Can district and regional-level economic planning with broad
local participation be successfully organized in either Kenya or
Tanzania? How would local and national priorities be reconciled?
Can modern, Western management be transferred to Africa? If so,
where has it succeeded? Is emphasis on training appropriate? What
institutional development is needed?
If not Western management, what is the alternative? Can a modern
African management system evolve from experience in the present modern
sector? Is it more likely to emerge from experience with smaller scale
How could the Foundation advance the frontiers of knowledge about
how non-Western cultures can acquire the ability to manage large-scale,
complex, technologically sophisticated productive organizations?
Are there questions of values, cultural taboos and inhibitions,
fundamental beliefs, and culturally dictated patterns of interpersonal
relations to be explored, normally beyond the bounds of the management
How does one determine the extent to which technology and
organization must adjust to the cultural terrain, and the extent to
which cultural elements will be forced to adjust to the requirements of
Development and Cultural Change
Most foreign aid is directed towards institutional modernization
in one form or another. Should not more attention be focused on the
process of change at the individual and micro-institutional level?
Could a concept of “appropriate institutions” be elaborated
for different cultural settings with a validity similar to that of
And finally, recognizing that the cultural aspects of
modernization probably must be analyzed and dealt with by the people of
that culture, which disciplines will be most critical to the process? Is
any existing training program adequate to produce the skills appropriate
to the task?