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Globalization is a comprehensive term for the emergence of a global society in which economic, political, environmental, and cultural events in one part of the world quickly come to have significance for people in other parts of the world.1 The term is also used to refer specifically to economic globalization in the context of integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, and capital flows, migration and spread of technology.2 

It is the transnational circulation of ideas, languages, or popular culture through acculturation. Bhagwati Jagdish sees the globalization process as the result of advances in communication, transportation and information technologies as well the “growing economic, political, technological, and cultural linkages that connect individuals, communities, businesses, and governments around the world.”3 The term describes a process by which regional economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through a globe spanning network of communication.

In the history of inter state relations, travels, trade and migration have been taking place for centuries. Even in the ancient and medieval world, international trading companies were formed, promoted and financed by states, governments and groups of individuals to explore and, at times, pillage and conquer distance and less ambitious ones. Globalization is a concept which is not new in the international trade, although in the world scene, it has been known by different names.4 Those who are conversant with the industrialization of Europe and America will recall the writings of Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations where the doctrine of globalization and liberalization were enunciated.5 

Globalization describes a process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a globe-spanning network of communication and trade. The term is sometimes used to refer to specifically to economic globalization: the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration and the spread of technology.6 

However, globalization is usually recognized as being driven by a combination of economic, technological, socio-cultural, political and biological factors.7 Globalization as it is used today, refers to the growing interaction in the world trade, national and foreign investments, capital markets and the ascribed role of government in national economies. Globalization focuses on economic capitalism and world market power. It seeks to encompass all the countries of the world into one economic unit, possibly without government or without borders.8

The Romans, Phoenicians, religious crusaders, European slave dealers and their collaborators and colonizers operated internationally and in the global world of their time. Particularly after the 15th century, the various exploration, trading and colonizing groups of the west transverse East Indies, North America, South America and Africa, in search of economic gains and empires usually at the expense of those within when they made contacts, conquered or colonized. The European powers partitioned Africa among themselves. The political and economic domination of Africa assisted and complemented the Christian missionary evangelistic and Islamic crusaders who brought new and different cultures, goods and gods in Africa.9

All these worldwide enterprises were globalization of a sort and were undertaken by almost the same group of countries and races that are the main protagonist of today’s globalization. Even though the present day globalization bogey differs in scope, manner and intensity from the earlier international processes, like slavery, colonialism or religious fervor, it benefits the same powerful nations at the expense of the developing nations.10 Globalization is diminishing the economic competitiveness of an increasing number of people and countries outside the triad (Europe, North America and China), because the less economically developed economics are finding it increasingly difficult to be fully integrated into the global economy.

On the other hand, many of the weaker countries are being, once again recolonized economically and politically. Africa is obviously the hardest hit by the globalization process and by financial and economic institutions that promote and sustain the globalization paradigm.11 The African continent has suffered and is still suffering from the problems of arrested development. Attempts by Africa to catch up or bridge the gap between it and other continents have always be frustrated by African’s technological and organizational inferiority vis-à-vis the more dominant economies.12

Aims and Objectives 

The objectives of this research are as follows: 

To show how globalization has affected the economic and political status of the Nigerian economy.

The role of global institutions in the globalization process as it concerns Nigeria. 

To show how the dependency of the less developed economy on the western economy has led to underdevelopment of the less developed countries, through evaluation of the dependency theory. 


This study will focus on the globalization process, right from the 19th century and its effect on the African economy, using Nigeria economy as a case study.


This work will review the works of both African and foreign authors view in the area of globalization, Africa and development. The works mainly rely on both primary and secondary sources from newspapers, journals, development reports, lecture notes, internet sources, and textbooks.

Significance of Study 

This study is important, as it will look at globalization process and the challenges to African development especially in the area of its economy. It will also look at the impact of some of the global institutions like the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization in Africa. The study will also add to the existing body of knowledge in the area of Africa economy.

Literature Review

There are previous efforts in the study of globalization and the Nigerian economy. Joseph Stiglitz work, Globalization and its Discontents is a classical example. Stiglitz, a former chief economist at the World Bank describes globalization as a process that has to be reshaped. In his book, Stiglitz analysis shows that there is an enormous cost to continuing global instability. Globalization can be reshaped, and when it is properly, fairly run, with all countries having a voice in politics affecting them, there is a possibility that it will help create a new global economy in which growth is not only more sustainable and less volatile but the fruits of this growth are more equitably shared”13.

Joan Sparo and Jeffrey Hart’s Politics of International Economic Relations14 is another outstanding example. It undertook an important analysis of the discussions at the Bretton Wood’s Conference and examines the provisions of the original Bretton Woods’ agreement that like to the creation of global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. It exposes the management strategies of the Bretton Woodian institutions under the leadership of the United States and opines that the management of global economic was “made easier by a high level of agreement among the powerful on the goals and means of international economic system”15 and that the foundation of this agreement reached was a share belief in capitalism and liberalism in the global world.

Maurice Obong article, “The Facts and Fallacies of IMF Loans in Nigeria” also contain a short analysis of the genesis of International Monetary Fund and the nature of the global economic management.16 He noted that as the outcome of the Conference, the aforementioned institutions provided an immediate answer to the problems of international payments and noted that the conference had the privileges of being the first to discuss and hammer out the rules by which the world financial system and flow of trade should be managed.17 Bode Onomide’s work on the role of International Monetary Fund in the economies of developing nations is another article that is relevant to the research. It explains that the international monetary fund is the most powerful international organization in today’s world based on the resources it control and its power to interfere in the internal affairs of borrowing states which gives it the authority that is almost supreme.18

In Global Political Economy, Robert Gilpin also explains that the post War World II international monetary system and its fundamental principles was “that exchange rates should be fixed in order to avoid the ‘beggar- thy-neighbour’ policies of the 1930s and the ensuring economic anarchy.”19 The international monetary fund created at the time was intended to achieve this goal and to provide monetary reserved sufficient to enable member governments to maintain the exchange rates for their currencies at predetermined values. Solomon Ajayi looks at the evolution of international economic system. He identifies and discusses the issues that propelled international economic relations right from the fifteen century to the contemporary times.20 These aforementioned research works explains that globalization since World War II is largely the result of planning by politicians to break down boarders hampering trade to increase prosperity and interdependence thereby decreasing the chance of future war.21 This led to the Bretton Woods conference, an agreement by the world’s leading politician to lay down the framework for international commerce and finance, and the founding of several international institutions to oversee the process of globalization.22

These institutions include the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank), the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, etc. The IMF and World Bank were both established at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in July 1st – 22nd 1944.23 The two were created to oversee stability in international monetary affairs and to facilitate the expansion of world trade. Membership in the World Bank requires membership in the IMF to monetary exchange rates, provide short-term financing for balance of payments adjustments, provide a forum for discussion about international monetary concerns, and give technical assistance to member countries.

The impact of the globalization process has also been described by Omowale Kuye in “Alternative to IMF Staff Report on Nigeria.”24 He opines that there is no doubt that the power of globalization has affected the character of domestic and international politics, economies and relations at every level. According to him, “globalization seeks to bring together in one global economy, social, and political structure based on capitalist value and liberal democracy.”25 Its watchword being integration, today’s globalization seeks to climb, domesticate and reshape all cultural barriers in the quest for profit. The Final Act of the Uruguay Round Agreement that was signed in April 1994 and became effective in 1995 after passage by 1244 national legislatures substantially reduced tariff and non-tariff trade barriers in many sectors. It also established its world trade organization to replace the 47 years old General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT).26 The Geneva-based WTO is intended to oversee the agreement to settle trade disputes. The three major provisions of the accord from the perspective of developing nations are

To developed countries, cut tariffs in manufactures by an average of 40% in the five equal annual reductions

Agricultural Product which came under the authority of WTO were to be progressively liberalized. 

For textiles and apparel, the multi-fiber arrangement quotas, which have long penalized exports of African countries were phased out by 2005, with most of the reductions taking effect towards the end of the period.27 

Africa is obviously the hardest hit by globalization process by these financial and economic institutions that promote and sustain the globalization paradigm. Attempts by Africa to catch up or bridge the gap between it and other continent have always been frustrated by African’s technological and organizational inferiority vis-à-vis the more dominant economies. According to the dependency theory, which state that “the dependency of the less developed countries on the developed countries is the main cause of the underdevelopment of the former.”28 

A.G. Frank also holds that the whole world is divided between two set of countries; developed countries and less developed countries. The former are in the centre and the latter are in the periphery.29 The inequality between the centre and the periphery has resulted in a situation whereby the LDCs are dependent on the DCs in trade, investment, technology, etc. This dependence has resulted in the underdevelopment of the periphery. Consequently, Dos Santos believes that “Dependency is a situation in which the economy of certain countries is conditioned by the development and expansion of another economy to which the former is subjected. The relation of interdependence between two or more economies and between these and world trade assumes the form of dependency when some countries (the dominant) can expand and give impulse to their own development, while other countries (dependent) can only develop as a reflection of this expansion”.29

Sanjay Lall points out that “LDCs are poor because they are dependent and any characteristics they display signify dependence”. He views this as leading to immoderation, that is, the growing poverty of the mass of the population in the periphery. According to Amin, “The periphery is just an appendage of the central economy.”30 The development of the centre causes underdevelopment of the periphery and its dependence on the centre. Dependency economists have given divergent views to overcome dependency and underdevelopment of the periphery. Sunkel advocates structural changes in all sector s of the economy as a way to remedy this problem.31

Santos suggests a qualitative change in the internal production structures and external relations of the LDCs. Amin suggest a new developmental strategy for the periphery countries which are: 

Self reliant developmental strategy based on one’s own resource 

collective self reliance strategy based on mutual cooperation and economic integration of LDCs

Demand for a new international economic order based on the transfer of technologies to the LDCs.32 

To many in the developing world, globalization has not brought the promised economic benefits. A growth divides between the world and the dire poverty, lining in less than a dollar a day. Despite repeated promises of poverty reduction made over last decade of the 20th century, the actual number of people living in poverty has actually increased by almost 100 million33

In Africa, the high aspirations following colonial independence have been largely unfulfilled. Instead, the continent plunges deeper into missing, as incomes full and standards of living decline. The hard one improvements in life expectancy gained in the past few decades have begun to reverse, while the scourge of AIDS is at the center of this decline, poverty is also a killer. Even countries that have abandoned African socialism, merged to install reasonably honest governments, balanced their budgets and keep inflation down found that they simply cannot attract private investors. Without this investment, they cannot leave sustainable growth.34 

In the light of the aforementioned, the honourable speaker of the National House of Representative, Nigeria, Hon. Dimeji Bankole said this when he was delivering a speech at a two-day international parliamentary conference in Moscow. In his words,“Africa countries need foreign trade and long investments to develop its economy, not aids.” He noted that Nigeria and indeed other African nations never believed that aids would solve their problems in the long run. In spite of the aids from development agencies to African countries in the last 25 years, Africa have been unable to addressing its sectors economic problems. We need most now is cooperation, partnerships, trade wealth and create employment.35 

In advancing to meet the world, Africa must be circumspect of the WTO, IMF/World Bank set of advice which tends to set off economic crisis and instability. Empowered in its new vision of NEPAD, we must then move at our own pace, on our own terms. If caution is the world, then, Africa in interpreting the clearly not value free globalization concept, make selective integration. De-linking as once advocated by Samir Amin may be attractive but impracticable now but selective integration actions would salvage the vulnerable in the society and enable certain sectors where we do have comparable advantages to grow and steady us to compete at a later day at global levels. Liberalization policy must not be wholesale, otherwise the import substitution programme of years ago would flounder. Again the entire framework for action calls for strategic thinking for and in a global world. The issues to be considered are urgent and imperative. If this is the present, how does Africa sustain itself for the moment, be relevant in terms of global needs and seek to evolve its own hegemonic and salvaging ideals and strategy.36

According to A.G. Frank, Dos Santos and Sanjay Lall, they hinged the backwardness of the LDCs on over dependency of the LDCs on the DCs in terms of trade, investment, technology. They are of the opinion that LDCs should be independent of the DCs. But how can this happen, when we are living in the era of ICT, were the world have become a global village. Africa cannot just break away all of a sudden because she is still technologically backward. It has to be a gradual process, if this idea must be a adopted. Amin has attributed the underdevelopment of LDCs, to the development of the DCs. The DCs according to him have developed themselves without carrying the LDCs along with them. To this he has suggested that the LDCs should come together to demand a new international economic order which will be based on the transfer of technologies to the LDCs. This will favour development of the economies of the LDCs.37 

Joseph Stiglitz also suggest that the process of globalization should be reshaped to favour all and sundry, both the North and South should be involved in decision making, policies that affect the economic and political status.38 Africa should be given a voice and allowed to be part of the total global process. Thus, if the African continent is to participate effectively as a member of the global village, its people and government must first undertake two tasks. First, borrow a leaf from Friedrich list, the 19th century German-American economist who was faced with how a left behind economy could catch up.39 Africans must have to go back to the drawing board. – That is culture, as culture whether we accept it or not is a major factor that aids development of a nation. For example if we look at Asia continent, e.g. China and Japan look at how they have developed over the years. They made sure that cultural heritage was a major foundation in their developmental strategies. 

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research


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